Trying to stick to your goals can be hard, especially if you have a track record of missing the mark with previous attempts. Discouragement and frustration can set in and prevent you from making positive changes to your health and wellness. But, you can stick to your goals when you recruit these five principles that work to successfully build new habits. 

Decide ahead of time

Behavior designer, Nir Eyal, explains that precommitment removes a future choice by helping overcome impulsivity. A Ulysses pact, is “a freely made decision that is designed and intended to bind oneself in the future” and comes from Ulysses’ success navigating the sirens in Homer’s well-known adventure in The Odyssey. When you plan for if/then scenarios in advance, it’s more likely you will follow your plan when the time comes. This simple illustration from Greek mythology can help you stick to your goals when distraction (or danger) looms. 

Be accountable

Accountability helps you stick to your goals when you might otherwise get off track. Recruit an accountability partner who will ask you how you’re doing, show up when you need them, and support you on your not-so-great days. Depending on your goal, the best accountability person might be a peer who’s learning along with you or may be someone who’s further down the road. For some health-related goals, it’s best to hire a professional who can guide your progress safely. 

Change your environment

The environment around you will often determine whether you move closer to your goals or move further away from them. If you are in an environment with an abundance of distractions and temptations, you need to recruit more willpower to stick to your goals. When you change your environment to meet your goals, you minimize decisions and make your chosen behavior easier. Shaping your environment helps you outsmart decision fatigue and preserve energy to make better decisions. 

Find a like-minded group

Shaping your environment also means surrounding yourself with people who are moving in the same direction as you. You are more likely to stick to your goals when your preferred behavior is the norm. When others are working toward the same goal you learn from others, get unstuck faster when you hit a roadblock, and experience the camaraderie of a community that shares the same commitment. If you don’t have a natural group in your personal network, join a Facebook group or other online community for support.

Make your goals smaller

If you want to stick to your goals more often, make them smaller. Set smaller benchmarks for success. For example, rather than setting a goal to run a marathon, set a goal to run at least one mile every day. Instead of committing to weekly meal planning, commit to eating one extra vegetable each day. Hitting smaller targets leads to greater self-confidence, motivation, and the likelihood that these small habits will become bigger ones. Eventually, one mile may lead to 26.2 and a single daily vegetable can grow into weekly meal prep

When you put these 5 tips into practice, you are more likely to stick to your goals. If you need more help BetterYou is an AI companion that helps you achieve your goals. To date we’ve helped thousands of people get an extra 30 minutes of sleep each night, improve their talk time with friends by 10 minutes each day, or get in another workout every week. We’d love to help you, too!