How to develop habits (you’ll actually stick to)

Do you keep falling off the wagon?

Maybe you aren’t following through on what you say you will do.

Although you have good intentions, something always seems to get in the way.

Perhaps your focus is too scattered to show up consistently.

You could start at full steam, lose momentum, and give up.

Or maybe you feel like you “should” do something, don’t have the drive, and lose motivation.

The bottom line is that you can’t seem to stick to what you started.

So how do you stay committed and follow through?

Step 1: Decide what you want to change and commit.

Every action stems from a decision, so if you don’t like something, decide to change it right now. Be firm and follow through with action.

You can quit smoking more easily by saying, “I am not a smoker” versus “I have not smoked in 30 days.” If you believe you are still a smoker trying to avoid that next inhale, stopping the habit will be much more challenging.

However, once it is non-negotiable, you no longer smoke. It may take ten years to decide, but you will move forward once you are 100% committed.

Do you say things like “I post consistently every week,” or do you say, “I try to post consistently”? A tiny shift in language can mean everything.

What habit do you want to change, and are you 100% on board?

Shifting these three areas can help:


Where are you focusing?

Are you on the fence because you are worried about what you can’t control? Are you still living in the past?

Focus on what you can do in the present moment to move forward.


You naturally assign meaning to what is happening around you. What does this new habit mean for you? If you feel this will negatively impact you, you won’t change. Shifting one word in meaning can change how you think or what you do.

Example: This is the end of my relationship vs. the beginning of something new.


Do you feel good about this change? What feelings does this bring up?

Your emotions will also reflect your actions. How can you reframe your feelings around this decision to feel better?

Pro Tip: If you have lost confidence, it may help to reflect on past decisions that have improved your life. What habits have you created that positively impacted you?

Step 2: Why do you want to change this?

Tapping into your more profound reason why you want this to happen can help motivate you. Give yourself a powerful reason to commit.

Why do you want to achieve this goal? How will it shape your life by positively impacting you, other people, and the world?

Reflect on what benefits you will experience once this habit is in place.

What will your life be like once you achieve this goal, and how does this make you feel?

Will it help move you forward? Will it bring joy?

Conversely, What is the consequence if you don’t change this habit? What will be missing if you never do this? What discomfort will this create?

Weigh the actual benefits with the reasons standing in your way to provide increased motivation.

Step 3: How is not doing this serving you?

Okay, I get it. At first glance, you are probably thinking, “That’s crazy!”

It may seem like there is no good reason you aren’t moving towards the habits you want; however, this benefits you somehow.

You would not hold on to an old pattern unless it meets a need.

How does holding on to your old habit serve you?

What need does this help you meet? In what ways are these negative emotions or habits helpful?

Keeping your hand on a hot stove may seem painful, yet it can be helpful to you as well.

Does it help you avoid stress somehow? Or do you like being stressed because you believe this is a performance edge? Maybe your anger, shame, and guilt have created past success, and you fear letting go.

Does it help you to avoid change?

You may be so attached to your current self-image that taking steps forward would shatter your definition of who you are.

How does this habit confirm your current perception of yourself?

For more on identity, read Embrace Change & Create a Better You.

Or perhaps it is protecting you somehow. Does it keep you playing small because you fear what change it will create in your life? Maybe it is an excuse to avoid failure and rejection.

Perhaps you are afraid of who you will become, how people will react, and how it will change your relationships or social status. Or you could be avoiding connection with yourself or others.

You could tell yourself you aren’t the commitment type, that it is too hard, too risky, too dull, will take too long, or you don’t have enough time.

List all the reasons you think you may be putting off what needs to happen. What are you gaining by not starting this new habit?

Step 4: What do you want instead?

Now it’s time to paint a clear picture of who you want to be.

Create a chart with two columns: Column A. Benefits of Not Moving Forward, Column B. Who I want to Be Instead. See the chart below.

Reflect on the benefits of creating this new habit by using the present tense, and positive, passionate language from your perspective (“I” or “Me”).

Start each day by visualizing the ideal version of yourself for 3-5 minutes. 

1. Tap into high-frequency emotions such as gratitude, love, and excitement.

2. Deeply connect to your body and become that person. Visualize yourself as if it has already happened. See, hear, touch, smell, and taste this new version of yourself in the future as if you existed today.

3. Believe you can do this and imagine yourself taking consistent action towards it. What would need to be true for you to believe this? Take one step in that direction.

As your passion for imagining your future increases, your drive, excitement, and positive habits will improve as well.

Step 5: Develop and execute your new strategy

Now it is time to make a change. Be realistic, set achievable targets, and surround yourself with a great support system that helps keep you on track.

Recognize the obstacles that have previously gotten in the way of your success.

Are you losing your willpower at a specific time? Perhaps you struggle later in the day or at night when your stamina is at an ultimate low. Scheduling new habits earlier in the day when your momentum is at its highest, among other positive habits, can be helpful. Also, remember that improving willpower in one area will help ignite changes elsewhere.

Minimize decisions by removing any obstacles you can. If something trips you up, create a plan on how you will overcome this moving forward.

Continuing to visualize a positive outcome can also be an effective tool.

Notice if certain emotions are coming up when you procrastinate or fall off the wagon. Is there some event that triggers you?

Reframe your mindset to be more positive by putting a cue in place, such as turning on upbeat music, taking a walk, or taking a nap when feeling discouraged. Shifting your language from “I have to” to “I get to” can be game-changing.

Continue to try different approaches to create an effective routine by testing options for the best outcome.

Last, celebrate small wins.

Practice is perfection. If you take one step towards your goal, rewarding yourself will be a future cue to repeat the same routine.

Be gentle with yourself and know that this is a process.

Some days will be more challenging than other days. Lead with compassion and care while acknowledging that you are doing your best. Slow down and take it one step at a time.

What one step can you make today towards your goal?


Developing habits you can stick to can feel daunting at first. However, you can create new patterns step-by-step. Deciding and committing to change, tapping into your motivation, and creating a path forward will help you to move in the right direction.

Step 1: Decide what you want to change and commit
Step 2: Why do you want to change this?
Step 3: How is not doing this serving you?
Step 4: What do you want instead?
Step 5: Develop and execute your new strategy

I look forward to you being able to develop new habits you’ll stick to moving forward!
Michele x

If you need help developing habits, find out about the 21-day habit programs by emailing me the word HABIT.

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