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3 Steps to Successful Habit Change

Updated: Oct 28



Have you ever tried to change a habit or implement a new behavior?



Did you have the best of intentions to do something new or different only to see your motivation fade and the new habit fizzle out?



Yeah. Me too.






















I don’t know anyone who hasn’t tried (probably more than a few times) to change some behavior or start a new routine, but without it successfully becoming integrated into their life. I know I’ve been there, done that.



I’ve gone “all in” on some super big change that I’m super excited about - until the initial thrill wore off and I’d be back to where I started.



Since then, I’ve learned a lot about the science of habit change and what actually works when it comes to modifying our behaviors. And luckily, there are some simple steps – backed by research! – that can help you change or create a habit and make it last.



These three steps can get your new habit started, create momentum, and build successes, so you keep it up and establish a solid routine:


(And if you'd prefer an audio/visual version of these three steps, check out my YouTube video here and subscribe to my channel for more health and wellness strategies and tips!)



1) Take action


This probably seems obvious, but change occurs because of action. Unfortunately,

we tend to get caught up in the planning, prepping, information gathering etc., and

fail to actually *act* and move forward.



You feel like you are moving forward – I’m learning all this stuff! Making all these

plans! Getting so much knowledge! – but in reality you are still in the same place as

you began.



You have to create an actual action step to begin.



For example, if you want to eat more healthy foods, what is a specific action you can

do to make that happen? Eat a vegetable at every meal? Remove all the less-healthy

options from your house? Drink a glass of water each morning?



Get super clear on the actual action step you will take, which leads us to step

number 2...



2) Make it super tiny and easy


When you’re excited and motivated and embarking on a new change adventure, it

feels thrilling to make a huge overhaul and have grand plans for what you will

accomplish. (I’m going to cook all my own food! And go to the gym 5 days a week!

And drink a gallon of water every day! And never eat sugar again! You get the idea...)



And then real life happens, and it becomes clear that there’s no way you could

sustain that plan for any length of time.



Instead, make your action step so ridiculously tiny and easy that you could do

it even on your very worst day – when you got 4 hours of sleep and the kids are

screaming and the dog threw up on the carpet and you have a big presentation at

work.



If you create a super simple, easy step you can take no matter what, you’ll make it

happen, build momentum, and start making progress. Your brain won’t rebel

against the change because it doesn’t even feel like change!



To go back to the previous example, if you want to eat more healthy foods, and you

decide you will do that by incorporating more vegetables into your meals, what can

you reasonably expect yourself to be able to accomplish even on your worst day?



Eat one veggie at two meals a day? Eat one veggie with dinner every day? Eat one

veggie with dinner 3x per week? Scale it back until you find something that feels

TOO easy, that you are 100% confident you can do for the next two weeks.


Once you’ve successfully integrated that action step into your life, if you want to

make it a little bit harder, go for it! But start small. The tiny thing you do consistently

is far better than the huge thing you do once.



3) Track and celebrate your progress


Whenever you successfully complete your action step, celebrate like you just won a

gold medal at the Olympics (or the Super Bowl, or Stanley Cup, or insert huge

trophy/award of choice here).



You don’t actually have to make a huge show of it, but find a way to acknowledge

your accomplishment and cheer yourself on in some way – maybe a little high five

or a simple “go me, I did it!” or a little dance move...whatever works for you is cool.



Yes, I know this also sounds ridiculous. But it works.



When you celebrate, you create happy vibes in your brain and actually begin to

rewire your experience of whatever you just did, so you want to do more of it. Even

if it feels a bit staged or you have to act it out, it’s still beneficial.


Celebrate even your tiniest “wins,” and find a way to keep track of your progress. It

can be a simple X on a calendar, a note on your phone or notebook, or whatever is

easy and convenient for you. Having a concrete method for tracking will help

solidify your practice and keep you moving forward.



Tracking + celebrating = habit change victory!



With these three simple steps, you can begin implementing any new habit or behavior into your life. Identify your action step, make it (really, really) small and easy, and celebrate and track your progress.



*BONUS STEPS 4 and 5*


Just those first three steps alone will get you on your path to whatever new habit you choose, but there are two “bonus” steps that can be game changers:



4) Start from a place of compassion and acceptance


Yeah, I know. This can sound a little woo-woo, but it’s important to consider. You

can only make a change when your brain feels safe and secure, and accepting what

is happening right now or where you are starting and giving yourself a bit of

compassion and grace along the way makes all the difference.



This doesn’t mean you have to love everything about yourself or that you don’t ever

hold yourself accountable, it just means that you take into account the reality of

your situation (whatever it is at the current moment), and that you treat yourself

with kindness and respect.