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5 Simple Steps to Create a New Habit that Sticks

approval from othersLots of buzz these days about creating habits. Some suggest that forming habits is more important than setting goals. Why?

Because your daily habits determine your long-term results, regardless of your intentions. That makes sense, right?

If your goal is to save money, but you have no savings habits to support it – only spending habits that undermine saving – your savings account balance is going to reflect your spending habits, not the intention behind your savings goal.

Good habits are the backbone of success.

How can you create positive, new habits easily? Here are five simple steps that work.

1. Do set a goal

Your goal will determine which habits you create. It sets the stage for everything that follows. Be specific. If your goal is related to saving money, then get clear. I want to save $5,000 this year. Choose a number that works for you.

Weight loss, getting organized, learning to be at peace – all these goals can work.

I want to lose 30 pounds this year.
I want to live in a clean, organized office.
I want to feel calm throughout the day.

Good goals. And they all need daily habits to support them. So…

2. Determine which daily habits will take you there

With your goal in mind, choose a habit that, if implemented successfully, will get you to your goal.

You may want to develop the habits of depositing money into savings, meditating, taking a daily walk, eating vegetables, and so forth. You can choose as many habits as you want, but it’s best to implement one or two new habits at a time.

3. Trick your brain to cooperate

This is the interesting part. You know, it’s easy to be motivated – initially – when starting a new habit. You’re all pumped up. A few days (or hours) later, all bets are off. Motivation tanks and you just don’t feel like hopping on that elliptical machine, right?

You’ve got to find a way to get yourself to be consistent. Here’s the solution: Make it super easy on yourself to get started. Do this by finding the tiny version of the habit. I wrote all about this on my blog post: If You Want to Accomplish Big Goals, Do Tiny Habits.

The key is to bite off a tiny chunk of your habit and do that. For example, if your habit involves 30 minutes exercising on a treadmill, the tiny version might be simply standing on the treadmill for a few seconds. Just go stand on top of the thing and celebrate getting there!

Once you’re there, chances are you’ll take a few steps…and a few more. The biggest obstacle in the way of habit formation is getting started, each and every day. Make it easy on your brain to get going by committing to a small chunk, not a large one. Momentum tends to kick in once you get going.

4. Celebrate your tiny successes

Yep, allow yourself to feel good just for getting started on a habit, each and every time you begin. Don’t wait until the end to pump your fist or pat yourself on the back. Celebrate the tiny success of doing anything positive. This will fuel your motivation and encourage consistency.

5. Scale up

Achieving a big goal may require several new habits. Take them one at a time. Once one habit is well-established, add another one, then another. You can build a nice group of habits fairly quickly this way.

Further reading:

Tiny Habits is the brainchild of BJ Fogg of Stanford University.

5 Simple Steps to Create a New Habit that Sticks

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2019). 5 Simple Steps to Create a New Habit that Sticks. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Mar 2019
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