9 Ways to Make Habits Stick

make habits stick



The new year brings with it the promise of a great start! It’s not always goals that are our focus, it can be habits. According to Charles Duhigg, habits are the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.  It’s where we set ourselves up for success in making small, daily patterns that lead to our final goals.  However, it’s all what holds us back. Too many times we fail to get our habit to stick and we don’t have the success we want.   Your new year goals may include habits that have to do with weight loss and healthy habits or organizing and better productivity. Here’s a few ways that help our habits stick this new year.


Plan your work and work your plan.

It’s that famous saying, a “dream is without a plan is just a  wish.”  Not only do you need to make a plan, you must write it down. By working through the steps,  you can see where your success starts and failure is not an option.  It’s in the details that you will find that most success in planning your work.  Your plan also includes the words you tell yourself about your new habit.  Positive self talk trains your brain to think and act on your new habit.  Your brain will believe what you tell it!  Plan your work down to the details to be sure you know when and where you will do this new habit.


Start with a micro habit

What’s the smallest first step you can take to create a habit? It’s a micro habit.  Break your habit into the tiniest first step and get started with that piece to set your habit into consistent motion.  Getting to the gym requires getting the clothes for the gym, or your sneakers for your walk.  Eating healthy means making a list of healthy food options.  Start your organizing with a daily declutter of 5 items or setting up a box for where decluttered items go.  Get the smallest step done and then add the next step.


Connect the dots

The best habits occur in succession. One dot leads to the next.  Start with an existing habit that naturally connects to a new habit.  If you want to take your vitamins each night, leave them by the toothbrush where you brush your teeth each evening.  It’s easier to go to the gym if it’s on the way from  your work to home.  It’s called hooking a habit  See where you can connect the dots.


Rewards of new habits

It’s an age old way to create a new habit, however it could work for you. What reward will you give yourself for a certain number of successes with your new habit? What is enough of a reward?  How will you measure your success to get that reward?  There’s an app for this too!


Get motivated

Are you inspired by blogs, podcasts or books? Here’s a few references to learn more about habits.  There’s always one small life hack that can make learning one new habit easier.  These experts on habits can give you insight into what to do next, how to be successful and why habits matter.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Book by Stephen Covey
5 Strategies for Building New Habits, podcast by Michael Hyatt
Productivityist, podcast by Mike Vardy
10 Things to Avoid, blog by Zen Habits
How Simple Mini Habits, by Tiny Buddha

Limit choices

Research shows the more choices we have, the harder it is to stick to our plan and create a new habit. If we have too many options, we lose track of our original habit we are creating.  Start with your new “rule” for your habit. That rule should be unwavering. It’s a rule like, don’t order french fries with your meal or drink water with every meal.  The more you practice the one choice you give yourself, the easier it is to create that habit.


Assess obstacles

What obstacles are in the way with creating a habit? Is it a time issue, a money issue or another issue? When you assess the obstacle you can break through what’s holding you back.


Design your space

Creating a space the encourages your success helps make habits stick. How so?  Set up your space to flow from one habit to the next. If you want to take your medicine at bedtime, place it by your toothbrush.  Have a water bottle always handy to be sure you drink 8 glasses a day.  Your running shoes and clothes should be packed and ready to go each day to be sure you get there. All these small space designs can help you stay true to your habits.


Get your cue

Charles Duhigg’s strategy relies on a “Habit Loop”  that includes a cue for your habit, the routine of the habit and a reward for your habit.  Your cue can be an alarm or a post it note.  Your reward can be just about anything from meeting a friend for coffee to soaking in a bubble bath.  Using this strategy works from the basic reward premise of us as humans.


This topic has been on my mind a lot!  Here’s more ways to make your habits stick.

Small and Big Changes for 2014


One of the most powerful parts of social networking is the connections and collaborations we make! I asked my social media peeps to share their small and big changes this year.  I loved learning a little more about each of them and what the new year holds for them.

The one change I would like to make in 2014 is to change my way of thinking.  I’m generally a positive person, but as a woman, a wife and a mom, I see images of perfection everywhere. I want my change to be from within myself. I want to eliminate the negative self-talk that is so damaging. I want to practice more thankfulness and gratefulness and I want to be more present in my life and slow down to simply enjoy the little moments that make up each day.”

Joanie Zisk, Food/Travel Writer, Blogger at






My expectation for 2014 is to train myself to just “GO”… When it comes to projects/ideas/dreams, I am strong at “ready” and “set,” but often flail in the action. Fear and self-doubt are two big enemies. What am I afraid of? I plan to achieve both personal and professional growth this year taking “go” to the next level. I will stop second-guessing the outcome and just do it!

Vicki Powers

Journalist, Blogger

@HOUcheap, facebook (HoustonOnTheCheap), 



One of my three words for 2014 is Nourish. For me, this covers a multitude of areas – health, fitness, stress management, life management and self-care. Instead of saying I’m working out so many days a week, I have opted for the overall theme of Nourish. As I make both small and big decisions in 2014, I ask myself: Does this Nourish me? As Jason Womack says, I’m giving myself the gift of my own attention.  

Janice Marie Simon, MA, CPO

Certified Professional Organizer

Twitter @janicesimon

Linked in:




This year I have sent my mind to become better at 3 things:  golf, yoga and painting.

 Geralin Thomas

Organizing Consultant

Twitter:  @Metrozing,




2013 was a big year of change for me both personally and professionally which left me working all the time! One big change I am taking small steps to do is to not work as much. I only have a few years left before my kids head off to college (or whatever awaits them after high school) and I don’t want to look back and say “I wish I had spent more time with them”. So far it is going well… keep your fingers crossed.

Kathy Jenkins, Certified Professional Organizer and Certified Family Manager Coach

Professional Organizer and Student Organizing Expert



What are you small and big changes for 2014?