Making new habits stick

Making new habits stick can be difficult if you don’t have a system with a proven track record. Most of us fail before we even start. In 2019 I began adding a new habit to my life each year and I’ve seen great success. I followed techniques that I found in James Clear’s book, “Atomic Habits”.

2019 – Health

I was gaining weight. Not a lot, just a little here and there. My weight had been in the mid 190’s for years, but I was over 220. I was concerned that the weight was coming on and staying on.

I decided that my word for the year would be “health” and I started to walk every day. As long as I walked any distance, I considered it a successful day. This is the first big idea.

Check your focus

We tend to focus on results. I’m guilty of doing this. “Results, not excuses!”. That sounds great, and we certainly want results, but focusing on results can cause us to fail. I didn’t start this habit focusing on my weight. If I had focused on my weight, I may have stopped walking after several weeks because my weight didn’t make a significant change for the entire year! But, in the next 2 years, my weight dropped 25 pounds. This happened by focusing on the process and not results.

2020 – Meditation

My habit of walking was set and consistent and I was excited about adding something new. This is a significant point. By making the first goal attainable and then focusing on the process I gained momentum.

I am a believer in meditation and I had developed a habit of stretching in the morning. (This was due to back pain. I’ll address this at another time.). It seemed logical to add the mediation to my morning stretching routine. This takes me to another big idea.

Make it easy

I downloaded a meditation app and began listening while I stretched. Did I feel like I was doing a perfect meditation? No! What was the point, then? The point was to develop a consistent behavior.

I believe that if I had decided to meditate during a separate time, I would have failed. By coupling the meditation with something I was already doing, (stretching) I made it easy.

Your new activity needs to be easy and fit as organically into your day as possible. That doesn’t sound right to us. We think that a habit needs to bend us around like a pretzel in order to be effective. That’s not true. The habit needs repetition. Add your new activity to something you already do. For example, I add listening to audiobooks while I walk. I listen to podcasts on the drive home from work. Get creative!

2021 – Journaling

I had heard from many leaders that journaling is an effective tool to improve your life and I was excited to get started. I was on a roll. The first two habits were sticking and I felt confident. In order to get this habit to work I had to take a bit of a different approach.

Sometimes something’s got to go

In order to journal, I would need to reduce my tv time. TV time has been my go to wind down activity my entire life. I made a decision to turn the tv off one hour before going to bed. I would fill that time with journaling and reading.


I didn’t write a page a night. Sometimes I didn’t write a paragraph. I gave myself permission to write as little or as much as I desired. Honestly, I’ve had evenings where my journal says, “I’m tired”. Guess what? That is success! If you get caught up the product you will stop. What I have noticed is that I am sleeping better.

2022 – Fasting

There are all types of fasting. You can do a traditional fast from food, or you can fast from social media, soft drinks, etc. I always wanted to take up fasting from food because I felt it had positive effects both physically and spiritually. The problem was… I like food… a lot. I decided to skip breakfast and lunch on Sunday mornings. Turns out, it isn’t that hard.

2023 – Content

This year I am focusing on creating content. The blog you are reading is a result of this new habit. I began with my youtube channel and decided that I would create one youtube short video every week.

Remember! Measure the process, not results!!

I don’t believe that all of these videos are life changing. If I measured success by the number of views and likes on the videos, I would have stopped months ago. Likes etc, aren’t the point. The point is to create content.

My daughter set up this blog site and I decided to write a post every week. Again, do I think many people are reading? Probably not. That’s not the point. I’m sitting here at Panera on a Sunday morning burning a habit deep into myself. I don’t know where this will take me.

Start somewhere

Now it is your turn. Making new habits stick isn’t that difficult if you take the right strategy. Pick something, make it easy, and focus on the process. I hope this helps. I have thoughts on some specific keystone habits that you might find helpful.

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