April 26, 2022

Getting Habits to Stick

It can be tough to fold something new into the daily routine.  In truth, there are a lot of variables that contribute to a new habit failing to stick.  While the content below will revolve around finding a rhythm for consistently doing home exercises, the general principles could apply to any desired habit.  Hopefully this provides a good starting point to improve the odds of creating an enduring change.


  • Make a plan.  Take a look at your daily routine over a week and find time that makes the most sense.  Most importantly, be specific about when/where in your routine you expect the exercises to fit.  “In the evening after work, immediately when I get home,” is more likely to stick than “in the evening after work.”  Write this plan down.  Whether on paper, or in your calendar, make sure that it’s somewhere in addition to in your head.

  • Attach it to something that is already part of your routine.  Planning to do exercises at 7 AM can often be too vague for a habit to take hold.  While the time is something that will definitely happen, it’s not always something that will either enter our awareness or our actions.  Instead, attach it to something that you will be actively doing.  For example, starting the coffee maker, turning on the TV to watch the morning news, or coming back inside after walking the dog.

  • Treat yourself.  This may be as simple as checking the activity off a to-do list or drinking that coffee that was brewing while you were getting things done!  Some “treats” are likely more effective than others, but at the very least have something positive that follows the task, if the task is not inherently positive for you (…yet).

  • Keep track.  If it helps you to be detailed, go for it, but at this point, it can also be completely binary – did it happen or not.  Again, write this down.  Make sure it’s recorded somewhere externally.  If things didn’t go to plan, now you’ll be able to take a look back and adjust your approach.

  • Commit to building the habit for at least a week.  Before the habit becomes ingrained, it will take some conscious thought.  But after about a week of doing something regularly, it will likely be much easier to keep it going.


Unless it’s something you find motivating, don’t worry too much about details.  Success at this stage is the consistency.  Once it’s part of your routine, you’ll have freed up some attention to put towards other aspects of your progress.