How Do You Build Healthy Habits?

Habits are routines and decisions you make and repeat every day; often without knowing it. Some habits are good, some are bad.

We all have our weaknesses or bad habits. Whether it’s watching too many episodes on Netflix, drinking every evening with dinner, or skipping an early morning run to lie in. It’s easier to succumb to the temptation of these kinds of habits rather than take on the uncomfortable task of making positive changes.

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits says, “Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits. How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits. How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits. How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits.” via:

Statistically speaking, about 40% of our lives are spent doing routine tasks. This is important, because if we constantly fall into routines that aren’t beneficial or healthy, that 40% can greatly impact our lives.

What you repeat every day ultimately forms the person you. But what if you want to improve? How would you go about it?

The 3 R’s of Habit Formation can make it easier to stick to new habits so that you can improve your health, your work, and your life in general.

  • Reminder (the trigger)
  • Routine (the behaviour/action you take)
  • Reward (the benefit from doing the behaviour)

An example: You see the delicious piece of cake (trigger), you eat it (routine), and you feel satisfaction on your taste buds (reward).

The next time you see some cake again, you can’t resist eating it… even you are on a diet plan to lose weight. It may sound oversimplified, but this is exactly how a habit is formed.

There are plenty of examples of these small routines that occur all throughout your day that you don’t even notice. You feel tired (reminder), you cancel your morning run and hit snooze (routine), then you sleep in (reward).

What if you want to form new habits?

The best way to form new habits is not through willpower. Willpower is finite in the short run. So how do you solve the problem? Let’s go back to James Clear.

“Solve this [willpower] problem by picking a new habit that is easy enough that you don’t need motivation to do it. Rather than starting with 50 pushups per day, start with 5 pushups per day. Rather than trying to meditate for 10 minutes per day, start by meditating for one minute per day. Make it easy enough that you can get it done without motivation.” via: Start with “micro-habits” or tiny changes in your daily routine. Micro habits are defined as small, simple actions you can take every day that’ll help you achieve big results. You can use micro habits to transform virtually any facet of your life; by starting small and keeping the big picture in mind, you’ll make it much easier for yourself to ease into those transformations.

Micro-habits that take just a few minutes to perform but can compound over time. They are one of the best ways to form major habits, because they can be built upon over time.

And if you struggle at getting started, you will find that micro-habits are helpful with getting you to take action towards making progress on your goals…

The thought of taking “massive action” can feel intimidating for many people. (e.g. “How am I supposed to take massive action if I can barely get my ass off the couch?”)

But by nudging yourself forward with tiny actions, taken daily, you will eventually succeed.

Since the reason you want to form a habit in the first place is to achieve or maintain a given goal, doing something—even if it’s little—is exponentially better than giving up because of it. Incremental steps will ultimately lead to success. Taking any kind of action is better than taking none.

Micro habits are called “micro” because they have a low level of commitment:

  • Doing just five pushups a day.
  • Walking just five minutes a day.
  • Waking up just 10 minutes earlier.

Consistency is key when it comes to forming new habits. Show up every day. Your walking five minutes a day may eventually become 60 minutes or more.

Setting reminders can also help you maintain good habits. If you use an online diary, set automatic reminders on your computer and your phone. There are also apps available that help with goal setting and new habits.


Habit stacking is the method of building new habits where you add new routines to already developed habits.

After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].

Let’s look at a few examples of habits that you could stack and work into your daily routine:

  • After waking up, I will make my bed and then practice three minutes of gratitude journaling.
  • After making my morning cup of coffee, I will perform 10 press ups
  • Before eating dinner, I will drink a glass of water
  • Before going to bed, I will meditate for five minutes

Habit-stacking works so well because they can be built into your current daily routine. The rewards that you receive for your current routine will be used to reinforce your new habit.

Focus on making healthy choices and develop that into a habit.

Although changes do take time, making these small adjustments will make a big difference throughout your life. Eventually the reminders you’ve set up will become such a regular part of your routine that you’ll soon reap all of the new and exciting rewards!



Lucy Round (The Detox Coach) is a qualified nutrition coach, detox & wellness coach and personal trainer and the founder of and WeightLossForBusyMums (a group for busy mums to lose weight and boost their energy).

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