Jenny: 3 easy ways to create lasting good habits

Jenny is the Senior Psychologist at USQ Student Services. In her down time she likes to travel to faraway places in the world and has one of her artworks hanging in Student Services.


Have you ever gotten so behind in your uni work or jumped on the scales and realised you can’t blame the washing machine for shrinking your clothes and thought ‘I need to make some good habits!’? Well, here are some tips to help you not only make a change for the better, but turn that one positive change into a lasting good habit!

1. Strengthen your willpower by controlling one small thing at a time 
One of the keys to establishing and maintaining good habits is having strong willpower. You can think about your willpower as a muscle. Like any muscle, your willpower can start to fatigue throughout the day. The good thing is that you can strengthen your willpower by controlling just one small thing that you aren’t used to controlling. For example, using your non-dominant hand to eat and open doors or regularly fixing your posture.

This technique works by making your brain pause before acting, notice what you are about to do and give yourself the opportunity to do the more meaningful thing, even though it doesn’t come naturally. As you are only changing one small thing, you are not overwhelming yourself and are unlikely to trigger intense feelings of deprivation, which can lead to abandoning your good habit.

2. See every choice you make as a commitment to all future choices 
When we have something we need to do, we often put it off to tomorrow because we think we will have much more free time and be way more motivated than we are today. However, this is rarely the case and we end up falling even further behind in achieving our goals. When you catch yourself thinking ‘I’ll just do it tomorrow,’ ask yourself ‘Am I someone who puts things off all the time?’ You might find it harder to justify your procrastination if you can see that it may lead to the development of a bad habit. Instead, see this as an opportunity to make a small but significant change.

3. Forgive yourself when you transgress from your good habit 
So you have had one of those days where everything seems to have gone wrong and the only thing you feel like doing is indulging in your vice. Once you do, however, you immediately feel like you have let yourself down and figure since you’ve already fallen off the wagon, why not go all out? The truth is, there will always be days when it’s easy to slip back into bad habits. When this happens, the best thing you can do is forgive yourself. Self-criticism has been shown to be associated with low motivation and lack of self-control, while forgiveness increases accountability. So remember you’re human, and cut yourself some slack.

These 3 easy tips will be very beneficial when you are trying to establish and maintain good habits. To talk about how you can improve your studies by creating better habits, why not get in touch with one of the counsellors at Student Services to have a chat for free?


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The 7 bad study habits… and how to combat them!