Export date: Sun Feb 18 3:28:49 2018 / +0000 GMT

9 Steps to Cultivate Habits that Stick

How did a tiny nutritional habit snowball into such big change?

A year-and-a-half-ago, I became acquainted with about a dozen new people as we all became part of the fastest growing health and wellness movement in North America.  Over the past 18 months, I have watched as EVERY ONE of these individuals have literally transformed their lives:  improved relationships, adopted fitness regimens, and worked on personal development.  What are the keys to cultivate habits that stick?

Obviously, I am a strong believer in the products and recognize their role in achieving these results.  The focus of this article, though, is on the HABITS that were formed.  How did a "tiny" nutritional habit snowball into such big change?  What lessons can we take away from this when trying to incorporate ANY new habit into our own lives?

What habit are you working on?

  • Exercise?

  • Meditation?

  • Getting Enough Sleep?

  • Keeping a Journal?

  • Having More Fun?

  • Eating Healthier?

  • Reading More?

  • Cooking at home?

  • Practicing Gratitude?

  • Setting Daily Intentions?

  • Giving Back?

  • Practicing What You Believe?

Look at this list.  You already know HOW to do anything on this list.  What you need to learn is how to make it AUTOMATIC; how to make it a HABIT; how to cultivate habits that stick.  And that's what we're delving into in this article and I'm here to tell you, it's not as hard as we make it.

“To achieve something you have never achieved before, you must be willing to do what you have never done before”

Following is a list of 9 tricks you can apply to cultivate habits that stick.  These same strategies apply to any habit you seek to cultivate.  Use this strategy for improving your health, your relationships, finances or anything else:



Your first step in creating a new habit is to establish a firm reason why you want to establish your new habit.  What do you hope to gain or avoid by changing your habit.

2 - EASY:

The second step?  You have to believe you can do it.

Your success in establishing a new habit is directly related to your perception that you have the ability to do it.  Your new habit needs to be something SMALL and Manageable.  You need to have 90-100% confidence you can accomplish it.

9 steps to cultivate habits that stick


Every big success is made up of a lot of little successes.  Little things really do matter over time.  Most people get tripped by the simplicity of this principle.  The steps, in the moment to moment don't feel significant - but the results are huge.  You need to realize the incredible impact little efforts can have on your life.

Take the example I opened this article with.  The people I talked about who have changed their lives so drastically over these 18 months did so by starting out with the “tiny” nutritional habit.  The fastest growing health and wellness movement in North America is built on 3-step nutritional supplement program every morning.  That's it.  Three steps in the morning; it doesn't get any easier than that.  By starting with something they could do and repeating it daily, they achieved BIG change.

Your first step shouldn't be a leap, find something small that you KNOW you can do.  There is a lot of power in little things repeated daily.  (Which brings us to . . . .)


Inspirational Quote: "You'll never change you life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine." - John C. Maxwell

Choose goals that are DAILY HABITS.  You can go bust your butt at the gym and you won't see results today or this week.  Habits are about repeating it.  The path to success is through daily disciplines compounded over time.  You need to do the new habit 6/7 days per week to form a new habit.  It can take 66 days to form a new habit.  By about 2 years in (and often much sooner), you will see definite, measurable differences as a result of consistent effort.

Consistency is the ultimate key to success, yet it's one of the biggest pitfalls for people.  Reaching your goals is achieved by the DAILY effort you put into what you do.  Consistency and patience are the keys to success.

In his book, The Compound Effect (Click to go to Amazon affiliate link) , Darren Hardy states:  “A routine is something you do every day without fail, so that eventually, like brushing your teeth or putting on your seatbelt, you do it without conscious thought.”

Other quotes on the subject:

“You are only as good as your daily routine” - Leo Gura from 1.

“You are what you repeatedly do.” - Modern Health Monk 2, Alexander Heyn.

“Success comes from making a series of good decisions over time while failure comes from making a series of poor decisions over time.” - Jim Rohn
And my favorite, also from Modern Health Monk:  “If you get the day right, the years become amazing.” - Alexander Heyne

The secret to success if you hope to cultivate habits that stick is in the tiny habits done daily.


Pick ONE thing to work on at a time.  What will your ONE THING be?

  1. Hydrate first thing every morning?

  2. Proteins at Every Meal (can be eggs, meat, legumes, whey protein)?

  3. Veggies at Every Meal?

  4. Sleep 7-8 Hours per Night?

  5. Strength Training 3x/week?

  6. Cardio 3x/week?

  7. Cut out sugar?

  8. Drink ONLY water plus 1-2 cups of tea/coffee?

  9. Healthy shopping/cooking?

  10. Meditation or prayer?

  11. Reading?

  12. Positive thinking?

These are all worthwhile goals, and there are hundreds more you could add to that list.  The important thing to remember is to only pick ONE.  A little at a time is reliable.

Research has shown that we have 85% adherence when choosing only one goal to accomplish over a 1-2 week period.

If you pick 2 habits to change, your odds of achieving your goals goes down to 34%.

Pick 3 habits to change and your rate of adherence goes down to 10%.


Looking at this chart, it only makes sense to start with one habit change and go all out on just that one habit.

How should you pick that ONE habit to change?  You want to pick that ONE change that will end up snowballing into many positive habit changes down the road.


Some habits are worth forming first because they help create others.  As Gretchen Rubin, author of Better than Before 3 (Click to go to Amazon affiliate link):  Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Life puts it:  "Some habits are foundational; these habits effect one another and make all other habits possible".

Health is VITAL to EVERYTHING else.  Proactively and consciously take care of yourself and your physical needs first and the rest will follow.  A habit that meets a basic need is going to become the foundation for future habits.  Foundational habits ripple out into the rest of your life.  For example, exercise will lead to better sleep, better sleep leads to better food choices, better food choices can lead to better energy, better energy leads to better job performance, etc.  The compound effect of changing ANY habit can be profound.  The compound effect of changing a FOUNDATIONAL habit can be life-changing.

Some examples of foundational habits:

  • sleep

  • nutrition

  • hydration

  • exercise

  • decluttering

  • meditation

When choosing one habit to change, choose one that will make the biggest impacts and spark future changes.  You probably recognize from my opening paragraph, that the initial habit that had such life-changing results was nutritional, a foundational habit.


You're going to be a lot more successful adding a new positive habit than taking a negative habit away.  When choosing a habit to change, find a way to make it a positive action, not something you are going to Stop doing.

If you want to change a bad habit, you have to replace it with  good one.


Make your goals easy to understand and measurable.

If you accomplish it 80% of time, you are successful.  (6/7 days per week).

There are apps and devices to track your success rates.  You could get a Fitbit 4 (Click to go to Amazon affiliate link), download the app Habitlist, or even just mark your calendar.  Just make sure you've created a goal that is concrete in order to establish your new habit.


Every habit needs a trigger - that is something that tells the brain it's time to do the habit.

To be effective, put new behavior AFTER you do something - establish what it comes AFTER.  You can write it like this:

After I _______,

I will ________.

For example, when the people from my opening example wake up, they take their daily supplements "before their feet hit the floor".  The set-up for this habit is powerful.  You could create your own habit as something you do "after work" or "after lunch".  Find something you're already doing habitually and add your new habit after it.  Or do like the successful people in my first paragraph, and do your new habit first thing in the morning.


Mornings are a great trigger and studying people will reveal that most successful people in the world have morning rituals.

Examples of good morning rituals include:

  • meditation

  • exercise

  • walking

  • drinking water

  • gratitude

Tony Robbins says, "Our rituals define us".  Morning rituals lead to results.

That's my list of 9 steps to Cultivate Habits that Stick:

  1. Find your "why"

  2. Make it easy

  3. Do it daily

  4. One thing at a time

  5. Choose something to build on

  6. Make it positive

  7. Make it concrete

  8. Determine a trigger

  9. Establish morning rituals

That's it!  What ONE habit will you create right now that will make all the other habits easier to change and keep.  Let's change your life starting right now!

Marcy Vogler is a lifestyle makeover coach, personal trainer, and mother of three.  Marcy is passionate about helping women make over their lives from the inside out.  To learn more about the courses Marcy offers, check out our parter website at 5.  For daily inspiration, join Marcy's Facebook Group:  Love Your Day, Love Your Life 6.


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