Our Blog

Advice to help you live your healthiest life, covering fitness, nutrition, mental health, self-care and much more.

Harness the Power of Habits

January is a great time to hit pause, take stock and think about what you’d like to change in the upcoming year. Maybe you’ve already taken steps toward making this year the year that you make your resolutions stick – but here’s another trick that can help you make 2017 the best one yet.

The trick? Harnessing the power of habits.

A habit is something that you do in a regular and repeated way – something that you barely even think about doing. Things like taking your boots off when you come inside after shovelling the driveway or brushing your teeth before you go to bed are habits; they’re just part of your routine.

Habits aren’t born, they’re made. That’s good news, because it means that by following a few simple steps, you can make a new habit. Here’s how to use the power of habits to help you keep your New Year’s Resolution – whether you’ve decided to exercise three times a week or make your dental hygienist’s dreams come true and finally start flossing every day.

Step one: Create a new routine

Once you’ve identified what habit you’d like to build, it’s time to build a routine around it. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habitbreaks this process down into three steps:

  1. Pick a cue – This will prompt you to do the action you’ve identified
  2. Choose a reward – This is something that will motivate you
  3. Put it into action – Try your new routine for a week

Let’s take flossing as an example. If you want to make flossing part of your daily routine, you might buy a new package of floss and put it right next to your toothbrush. Each time you pick up your toothbrush, you’ll see the floss – that’s your cue. After you’ve flossed, reward yourself with something – for example, 5 minutes to watch cat videos on YouTube. Practice this routine for a week and you’re on your way to a new habit.

Step two: Write it down

As we’ve mentioned before, writing down your goals is key. Seeing it written down helps make your goal real – so write it down and post it somewhere where you will see it regularly.

For our example, we might grab a post-it note and write “Each time I see the floss next to my toothbrush, I will floss my teeth in order to earn 5 minutes of cat hilarity on YouTube,” and then stick it to the bathroom mirror, where it will be impossible to avoid.

Step three: Put in the time

Although it’s commonly said that it takes 21 days to get a habit to stick, it actually takes longer – more like two months than three weeks. Commit to putting in the time and then track your progress – as you “build the chain,” you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and start to build valuable momentum. Eventually, keeping up the momentum will be a reward in itself – almost as satisfying as a quick and easy dental cleaning appointment!

Ready? Try out our Downloadable Habit Tracker!

Use our downloadable habit tracker to build a new healthy habit and then track your progress. Record the habit you’d like to start, and write down your cue and reward. Post it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Then, it’s as easy as putting a checkmark (or a fun sticker!) in the box for every day you complete your new routine. After eight weeks you’ll be well on your way!