Tips to form a habit

Tips to form a habit

Our life is a result of our habits . For example:

  • How successful we are, is a results of our work habits,
  • Our weight, is a result of our eating habits
  • How fit we are, is a result of our exercise habits
  • How knowledgable we are, is a result of our study habits

What is a habit?

“A habit is a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously”


The construct of a habit has been identified as a habit loop that consists of:

  • Cue – the cue is something that triggers the routine
  • Routine – the action
  • Reward – the enjoyment from the habit. This is the part that makes the action repetitive (makes it a habit).

Tips to form a habit

  • In order to form a habit:
    • Find your Cue or trigger
    • Change your routine – get up at 6am if you want to follow the eat the frog method
    • Be specific in its reward – something that is a treat for you if you perform the habit, like a coffee at your favourite coffee shop


  • Social relationships can help habits stick. If you start a habit in a group it can signal to group that you get it and fit in with the group. So find a group that supports your habit.


  • However, everyone is different. Gretchen Rubin identified four personality types and each one is motivated differently.  Take the four tendencies quiz to find out what motivates you. Find if you are Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.
    • Upholders want to know what should be done. They generally find it easy to form a habit
    • Questioners want justifications. Want to know what they are doing and why
    • Obligers need accountability. Meet outer expectations, but not always inner ones. Most people fall into this category.  They will be motivated by other
    • Rebels want freedom to do something their own way. Meet outer expectations, but not always inner ones. Most people fall into this category


  • James Clear author of Atomic Habits says you need to start small to be successful. He suggests following 5 tips to form a habit by starting with a small habit and incorporating it into your life:
    1. Make it small to start
    2. Increase it gradually (Clear suggests 1% each day)
    3. Break up the habit into chunks that fit into your day. For example two 10 minute meditations or two 30 minute workouts.
    4. Never miss twice – everyone makes mistakes and slips up but top performers get back on track ASAP
    5. Be patient – trust the journey and results will come


  • James also recommends, point and calling – This is when you verbalise what you are doing. For example “I’m going to the gym to get fit and healthy”. The theory here is that the process raises awareness and the task starts to become non-conscious and then habitual.


  • Habit Stacking – put a habit on top of another habit.


  • The 5 second rule by Mel Robbins can help if procrastination sets in.  The idea is that when you are procrastinating, count down from 5, then jump to it, and do it. Count down from 5. For example, if you don’t want to get out of bed. Count 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, then bounce out of bed


  • Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy – prioritise the thing on your to-do list that you don’t want to do.  Do this first.  Mark Twain said if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, then the rest of your day will get better.


  • Visualise your habit. For example post sticky notes on your computer or fridge


  • James Clear indicates that your physical environment and systems decide whether a habit will stick. Try to optimise the starting line make the environment
    • Make your habit specific – Specify your habit in detail. E.g. I want to get up each morning at 6am and go to the gym for 10 minutes
    • Make it easy – have your gym gear ready in the morning
    • Optimise your environment – have your phone away from your bed so you to get up to turn the alarm off
    • Make it attractive – listen to music
    • Make it obvious
    • Make it satisfying – create a habit tracker so you can see your progress see James Clear habit tracker here or simply create your own. Or reward your progress, reward yourself, buy something that you like, book a massage or buy the hand bag that you have had your eye on.


Let’s take an example.  Let’s say you want to start an exercise routine.  Here is how you might approach this habit


Firstly what type of person are you?  Take the Gretchen Rubin Test. Are you influenced by people?  An Upholder or Obliger.  Are you internally influenced? A Questioner or Rebel. This may dictate whether you workout in the gym or at home.


Once you determine this.  You might decide to eat the frog and workout in the morning so you will need

Cue – set the alarm for 6am.

Change your routine – get up at 6am from now on

Reward – if you workout for three days a week, book a massage or buy that new bag you have had your eye on.


Things to make the habit stick

  • Obvious – put your phone in the bathroom so you need to get out of bed to turn the alarm off
  • Attractive – listen to music when you get up on your way to the gym
  • Easy – have your gym gear out and ready to put on
  • Satisfying – get a coffee at your favourite coffee shop at the end of your workout, meet new people


Try applying James Clear’s Atomic Habit principles:

  • Start by going to the gym for 10 minutes then work your way up in 1% increments to 30 minutes then break up your workout into a workout in the morning and a walk at night after work.
  • When you get up say, “I’m going to the gym to get fit and healthy for my body and mind”

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