3 things that make habits sticky


Writing my blog post/newsletter is a well-established habit for me. I’ve been doing it for years and never have to remind myself, it’s just something I sit down and do.

It’s a sticky habit.

I have another habit that was sticky but has come unstuck.

For a long time, I took a walk 6 days per week. Then I missed several days and had trouble getting back to it.

I’m back to doing a short walk a few days per week, but I want to work my way back to my regular schedule.

James Clear, author of the best-selling Atomic Habits, tells us there are three things that help habits stick:

1) Repetition. Habits form based on frequency, not time.

2) Stable context. If the context is always changing, so is the behavior. You need a reliable environment.

3) Positive emotions. If it feels good, you’ll want to repeat it.

My thoughts:

1) Repetition

I started writing my blog/newsletter once a week. I increased this to thrice weekly, and for several years now, I write a post every weekday.

Repetition clearly made a difference.

What really got this habit to stick, however, was announcing my schedule to the world.

The world held me accountable.

Even today, when I might feel like taking the day off from writing, knowing there are people waiting to hear from me keeps me on schedule.

2) Stable context

The main issue with my walks is the weather. When it’s cold, it’s harder to get out the door, especially in the morning.

My context isn’t stable.

The solution might be as simple as getting warmer clothes, sweatpants and sweatshirt, instead of the shorts and t-shirts I usually wear.

3) Positive emotions

I enjoy writing my newsletter. I also enjoy the results it brings me.

I enjoy my walks. I get exercise, time to think and time to dictate notes.

So, how about you? Are your (positive) habits sticky? If not, now you know what to do.

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