Creating and Maintaining Habits for a Successful Fall Semester

August 14, 2023

People are creatures of habit, following similar rhythms each day. But shifting our rhythms towards health can be difficult. Thankfully, shifts during times of transition can be ideal for incorporating new habits and set yourself up for success. Because changing habits means disrupting your routine, it can be more effective to add new behaviors or remove unwanted ones when other big changes are happening – like the start of a new semester. Here are research-informed strategies to help you start your year with positive routines:

Stack Your Habits

Look for patterns of behavior you already implement every day and connect new habits with those existing ones. For example, while you brush your teeth, you might stand on one foot to practice your balance. Or every day when you wake up, do a few minutes of yoga before you shower and start your day.

Start Small 

Big behavior changes require high motivation that is difficult to sustain. Instead, consider tiny changes to make the new habit as easy as possible. 

Do it Every Day

Habits take a long time to create but they form faster when we do them more often. You’re more likely to stick with a habit if you do a small version of it every day rather than big, deep versions of it a few times a week. During times of transition, you can create schedules that block daily time for your health – eating meals, moving your body, spending time with friends, meditating – anything that helps you be your best self.

Be Flexible

Try to give yourself grace – if you miss the scheduled time, go later that day. If you miss a day, start again as soon as you can.

Make it Easy

Set yourself up for success by removing friction to your success, or adding friction to the habits you want to avoid. Sleep in your workout clothes to make it easier to wake up and move. Choose a mini-habit that requires minimal equipment. Make the healthy choice the easy choice! 

Make it Fun

Try adding habits with fun built in – listen to a favorite audiobook or podcast only while doing your new habit. This offers immediate reward of hearing that next installation to help you build your habit. Do your new activity with a campus organization to meet new friends, or pick your favorite person and schedule time to do your thing together.

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