Have you struggled to kick bad habits and build healthier habits in their place? If so, chances are you may have blamed this on a lack of willpower and felt like a failure when you didn’t break a bad habit or successfully build a new one into your life.

You may be tackling it from a less than ideal perspective. What if you approached it differently with a new angle?

To break bad habits and build healthier new ones, it’s helpful to understand how habits work. Habits are not formed instantaneously. They require thoughtful, inspired action to make them stick and become a natural outgrowth of your life. Did you know it can take up to 21 days of doing something before it can be established as a habit you do automatically?

Start Small

Don’t dive in thinking you can do amazing things from day one. Chances are it will be a tough task to do. Start with something small and see how you get on. Once you’ve successfully created one new habit, then build your way to other, more significant, patterns you want to establish.


Motivation comes in different forms to different people. Some like the feel of constant congratulatory recognition from others and thrive off the positive feedback. Others may prefer to keep it personal and track their new habits in more discreet ways. Do whatever works for you.

Share on your social media accounts to keep yourself accountable and have others as your witness. Keep a record or a journal of the changes you are making, how you feel day to day, and what has made things easier or harder each day. This will give you an indication of when you form the habit and don’t have to keep reminding yourself to do it.

A visual habit tracker that is clearly visible in your home or workspace could be an extra incentive to hit those targets and build those new habits. Fill it in each day to see how well you are getting much in the same way as a child’s reward chart. Or even use an app on your phone to help you stay on track to hit your target. There are many apps available these days to help you do this.

Build On Small Steps

Once you have the small details in place, the more significant steps will naturally fall in line. Let’s take exercise. You started small by adding a 15 minute walk in your local neighborhood five times a week. Once you have formed this habit and are making good progress with it, then look at adding slightly longer walks once or twice a week or one workout class.

Use this method to form all of your habits no matter what they are and set yourself up for success by creating the lasting foundations for sticking to better habits. Doing it this way will enable you to break down your goals until they are in more manageable chunks and more natural to accomplish.