Play Like a Girl pushes girls to dream big in pursuit of the limitless possibilities that lie ahead of them. However, even with the best goal structures and support systems in place, it can be difficult for girls to consistently make progress towards those goals. During adolescence, the brain is still developing the ability to consider long-term consequences and daily decision-making. This makes it especially important that girls take the time to think about the connection between their goals and their daily habits. 

Girls can stay on course toward their goals by forming healthy habits on a daily basis. Habits, such as brushing your teeth every morning, are actions that come naturally and thoughtlessly. When you intentionally create habits that correspond to your goals, you are more likely to stay accountable. Goal-oriented habits might include things such as doing homework at a specific time, updating your planner after class, or stretching before practice.

Below are 7 steps to help you form healthy habits: 

1. Know your habits.

Be aware of the things you need to do every day. Sit and jot down the habits you want to form, such as “do homework right after school” or “read for thirty minutes before bed.” When you identify the things you need to be doing, it makes it much easier to stay focused on them. 

2. Write down your habits.

Write down the habits you are trying to form. Post your list in a place like a mirror or your desk where you will see it every day. This simple step can help you remember what you need to be doing to keep on track. 

3. Remember your goals.

It can also be helpful to either write your goals visibly or mentally to remind yourself of those goals in relation to your habits. Knowing that your habits help to keep you on the path to realizing your big goals can also help you stick with your plan. This is especially critical when you lose the motivation to continue.

4. Be consistent.

Each time you practice a habit, you reinforce patterns in your brain. When you reinforce those patterns each day, they become the natural and thoughtless habit you want. However, each time you decide to skip practicing a habit or put it off, you prolong the amount of time it will take to form the habit making it harder to hold yourself accountable in the future.

5. Start small.

Consistency is key to forming a healthy habit. But start small. Avoid making a lot of changes all at once. Start with just one, simple habit. Once that habit becomes a natural part of your routine, incorporate something else. This will make it easier to commit and be consistent.

6. Be patient.

According to psychologists, it takes 66 days to form a new habit. However, the time required to create healthy habits can be difficult. When you form a new habit, you create and reinforce patterns in your brain. Those patterns don’t fully formed for a period of approximately 66 days. Although new patterns will start to feel natural as time passes, you will have to make a conscious effort to stick to your habits throughout the period of formation.

7. Reward yourself.

Your healthy habits will bring about long-term rewards like an A in a class or improvements on the field. However, they most likely will not bring about short-term rewards. Doing an extra workout or spending extra time on your math homework do not activate the reward centers of your brain immediately. Make sure you take the time to reinforce those habits by rewarding yourself. Listen to your favorite artist after you finish your assignments or eat a yummy snack after a good workout. This will create positive associations between the brain and those healthy habits. And, the habits get easier over time.

Once you form healthy habits, you will find it easier to stay focused on your goals. Without even thinking about it, you will make daily progress towards the goals. It may be challenging, but we know you are capable of anything you set out to do.

Take some time today to consider the healthy habits you need to developed in order to accomplish your big goals.