A cyclist rides the bike path on Santa Monica Bay beach. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Cleveland Charter High School

Opinion: Best ways to form new habits

From New Years resolutions to spontaneous bouts of determination, we’ve all decided on habits to either quit or start. However, according to U.S. News, about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. 

Two major reasons behind this failure to maintain habits are that people do not understand how habits are structured and how to use that structure to their advantage or that they are attempting to do too much at once. 

The secret to adopting new habits that actually stick is a lot simpler than you may have imagined, according to Forbes.

First, you must understand the structure of habits. The structure has three basic components: you initially form the idea of a habit you want to adopt, take action on the idea, and the reward you give yourself for successfully acting on the idea. Most people have the first two components down, but fail to adequately reward themselves. A small reward, such as a small piece of chocolate after working out, will help reinforce the habit and help it stick during the early phases of habit development. 

Additionally, you should avoid setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Think about small goals you can set for yourself to build up to your ultimate goal over time. If your habit or goal is to eat less candy, you can slowly start decreasing the number of pieces you eat every day/week until you reach the amount you desire. Breaking big habits down is an easy way to keep yourself on track and decrease the chances of giving up. 

Especially during a time when we have all been thrown into unfamiliar circumstances like distance learning and quarantine, forming good habits will help you adjust positively, and quickly. 

Albert Fuentes, a philosophy teacher at Cleveland Charter High School recommends using the “20-20-20” rule, a trick he learned from his brother.

“Every 20 minutes, stand up, look at something 20 feet away, and stare at it for 20 seconds,” Fuentes said. “This refocuses your eyes and prevents headaches from looking at a screen all day.”