Want to Stick to Your Habits? Science Says This Will Double Your Success Rate

The guide to turn your dreams into realities.

The internet is chock full of good habits that can change your success for the better. But actually sticking to them is a completely different story.

This unexpected journey called life gets in the way, and when we have a task list the size of Mount Everest, things like getting up early or meditating are usually the first to be put in the “I’ll do it tomorrow” file.

In fact, research has found that of the 92% of people who set New Year’s resolutions, only 8% actually accomplish them.

Thankfully, science has the answer. Start adopting this method, and you’ll have a proven way to transform your jumbled efforts into a seamless daily routine:

Create specific actions.

To the successful, a dream isn’t something achieved by deliberating how to reach it, but rather a specific, well-conceived desire that always happens. That’s why the scientific key to creating an iron-clad habit is to state when and where you intend to perform the action.

Renowned entrepreneur and habit expert James Clear reports that in a study performed by the British Journal of Health Psychology, people who set an intention by creating an action plan of when and where to work out had a 91 percent success rate in making time for exercise each week.

The two other groups, a control group and a group who simply read a motivational pamphlet on the health benefits of exercise, had just 38 and 35 percent success rates, respectively.

Several other studies confirm that jotting down specific intentions (including the “when” and “where”) supercharges your ability to form habits. So, instead of saying you will be more efficient in your workday, try setting a digital calendar notification for reading your email only in the morning, at noon, and before you go home, and then let it snowball from there.

Make a backup plan.

It’s incredibly odd when things go exactly to plan. That’s why you need a backup plan for those inevitable roadblocks. Instead of completely derailing your habit, you’re simply discovering a new way to make it work.

For instance, your plan may be to work on your MBA studies every evening after dinner. One night, your child has a baseball tournament you want to attend. Instead of studying at your usual time, make a backup plan to study an extra hour the night before and the night after. As Charles Duhigg says in The Power of Habit, “There’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.”

Eliminate your options.

Science says it’s also extremely helpful to eliminate multiple options when forming positive habits.

According to The Power of Habit, “willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” And according to a study from the American Psychological Association, reducing the need to make decisions dramatically strengthens willpower.

Quite simply, habits stick when there’s no other alternative. So try to make a habit second nature by pairing down your options. For example, instead of wishing you’d eat better, spend your monthly food budget on healthy groceries for a few specific recipes.

Try one or more of these tips to help you develop positive changes, and see how far they’ll take you. Whether you want to improve your life or your career, setting an intention and developing the right habits are the key to doubling your success.

Most importantly, become fueled by your passion

“ If you really want to fly, harness your power to your passion.” — Oprah Winfrey

Your ability to make your goals come to life often comes down how badly you want it. If you love what you’re working toward and have fun doing it, science has shown you’re much more likely to see lifestyle changes come to fruition. That doesn’t mean there won’t be hard work involved. However, if you can make your goals a source of play in your life, you’ll have the mindset and mental energy to stop procrastinating and become one of the eight percent of people who achieve their goals.