In order to experience lasting behavior change, maintaining your commitment to your Microstep (a science-backed, too-small-to-fail habit) is critical — even when you don’t necessarily feel like staying on course.That means holding yourself accountable every step of the way.

We asked our Thrive community how they commit — and stay committed — to forming a new habit. Which of these creative tips will you try the next time you set a goal?

See your Microstep as a promise

“My first habit to stay committed to a new Microstep is my mindset. I like to think of deciding to take on a habit as a promise I make to myself. This mindset keeps me honest, as only I can truly judge if I have a good excuse to stray from the habit on occasion. At the same time, I never want to break my promise to myself because my self-esteem takes a hit, and that, in turn, shows up in every other thing that I do.”

—Amal Mehic, industrial process engineer, Syracuse, NY 

Find a goal-oriented community

“To stay committed, I join a group of people who are doing a 14-day or 30-day challenge toward achieving a certain behavior — like intermittent fasting or going sugar-free. I also invite a few people to join me on my own goals, so we can follow them together. Group energy fits me best so I can get the support I need, and provide support to others. It’s both beneficial and rewarding!”

—Loreta Pivoriunaite, performance strategist, Lithuania

Write it down

“To get a habit to stick, my go-to trick is to write it down regularly. You’d be surprised how much more accountable you feel when you’ve put something on paper!”

—S.A., dentist, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Curate your surroundings

“I’ve learned that to stay committed to a new habit, I have to make sure that I set myself up for success by preparing my surroundings to support the habit I’m trying to develop. My goal at the moment is to drink more water and less soda — so I keep a couple of great water bottles on my desk, and make sure one of them is always full!”

—Kirk Miller, consulting, Chicago, IL 

Mark an X on your calendar

“I have a friend that I text every day when I’m done with my habit, and then I mark a big X on my desk calendar to visually represent my progress. Seeing the streak of X’s grow longer and longer is extremely satisfying, and it’s a nice visual reminder of the progress I’m making.”

—Lisa Abramson, executive coach and TEDx speaker, San Francisco, CA

Schedule rewards 

“I find that setting continual reminders on my phone and scheduling in my new habit to my daily calendar works very well.  And when it comes to staying on track, allowing myself rewards every once in a while — like letting myself sleep in on a weekend morning —  is beneficial to my success.”

—Carrie McEachran, executive director, Sarnia, ON, Canada

Find your “why”

“To keep my determination strong and maintain a new habit, I need to discover the real reason behind it. For example, if you want to change your diet to gain more energy and lose weight, then the reason has to be more than ‘to be able to fit into certain clothes.’ You have to go deeper and ask yourself, ‘If I could wear what I wanted, what would that mean to me?’ The answer for that could vary. I usually do this exercise several times until the result is so meaningful that I wake up each day wanting it.”

 —Ali Davies, marketing manager, New Zealand

Enlist an accountability buddy

“Waking up and grabbing my phone first thing in the morning has become an automatic reflex for me. After realizing how much anxiety this habit was creating, I decided to quit. My first step was to interrupt my pattern and make it difficult to reach my phone in the first place, so I relocated my charging station to another room. My second step was to invite my husband to join me in this pursuit. Now, we enthusiastically give up our screen time and do Qi-gong instead. Having an accountability partner helps me stay committed.” 

 —Daria Tsvenger, personal growth expert, Los Angeles, CA

Give yourself a mirror pep talk

“Staying committed to a goal begins with talking to myself. I literally tell myself in the mirror, ‘I am going to…’ Then, I write it in my daily Google calendar to remind me. Finally, I call a friend and ask them to help me with my goal.”

 —Rudy Chavarria, founder and CEO, Walnut, CA 

Keep a visual in front of you

“For me, it’s all about seeing something that reminds me of my commitment to my new habit.  I have written down the rest of my 2020 goals and pasted them to the inside of my closet door so that I see them and recommit to what’s important each and every morning. One of my goals is to get from 30 to 100 pushups by the end of March. To help me stick to my commitment, I’ve moved my yoga mat into my TV room. As I settle in to watch my favorite show, my yoga mat tells me I should be doing pushups during commercial breaks.”

—Shelli Baltman, innovation expert, Toronto, Canada

Identify your purpose

“I try to stay connected to the purpose of the new habit I’m building. I ask myself, ‘Why is it important that I write every morning?’ When I first committed to writing every morning, it was out of passion. But I realized that passion on its own isn’t enough to keep me consistent. When I connected daily writing to the realization that I needed to improve greatly if I wanted to be a successful author, that additional purpose added fuel to my goal and helped me stay committed.”

—Kern Carter, writer, Toronto, Canada

Set reminders

“When I used to set goals, I initially felt enthusiastic about them, but then forgot about them after a week or two. Then, I started implementing the old-fashioned tickler system, but making it digital. Now, I have my new goal appear as a reminder on my digital calendar each day. I set the reminder on repeat and have it pop up two or three times a day for about three or four weeks. This helps me to stay focused and committed.”

—Beth Caldwell, marketing consultant, Pittsburgh, PA

Map out concrete steps

“I used to set goals for myself, but then I would get caught up in the end goal, and miss the crucial steps necessary to get there. Instead of constantly focusing on the result, I now focus on the process. I think a great tool for myself, and for others, is figuring out concrete steps that lead to accomplishing a goal, and executing them. Whenever I come up with a new goal, I spend time outlining what it would take to achieve it, and then set a timeline for myself. It’s revolutionized my productivity and my output.”

—Lindsay Fuce, freelance writer, Washington, D.C.

Use a journal

“I use bullet journal pages to help with the good habits I am working on building. It helps me visualize my achievements and gives me concrete things to strive for. When I don’t do my monthly pages, I can see my habits start to slip. They are game-changers for me when it comes to staying committed.”

—Nicole K., sales partner, Dallas, TX

Pinpoint your ‘aha’ moment

“I recently broke one of the biggest habits of my life, which was biting my nails. In order to stay committed, I found that there first has to be some intrinsic motivation. You can’t do it because someone else wants you to do it. It has to come from within. There needs to be an ‘aha’ moment where you realize that the habit is not serving you. Only then will you find the willpower to overcome this. For me, this was realizing I was a victim to my subconscious mind and tendencies.”

—Brooke Nally, freelance writer, Uluwatu, Bali

Do you have a go-to tip that helps you stay committed to a new habit? Share it with us in the comments!

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.