Learn how to create and maintain good habits for you, your family and your environment. Use this formula to keep motivated in any habit you create. Tonya Dalton, productivity expert, host of Productivity Paradox podcast.

How to Create & Cultivate Good Habits

Why do we have so much trouble getting to the gym? Why do we eat foods that aren’t good for us instead of healthier meals? Why don’t we get started on that big project or goal? These are just some of the questions many of us ask ourselves about why we aren’t working toward happier, healthier lives.

Today I want to talk with you about successfully creating GOOD habits. Good habits are essential to getting the right things done in your life. But the same habits, tricks and tips don’t work for every single person. And that’s exactly why we fall off or quit working toward something we want – that change in your life you’ve been wanting – big or small. The key is to cultivate and maintain habits that work for you and YOUR environment.


The formula for successfully creating good habits


According to Charles Duhigg, the best formula you can use to create habits and keep them is: Cues, Routine, Reward.

Cue: Leave environmental reminders around so that you remember to actually DO the habit. Make it easily noticeable. You can even write it down, set a reminder on your phone, etc. If you want to start doing something, like going to the gym, you need to pack your bag and have it ready and waiting for you the next day. Make sure you have something that will trigger your habit.

Routine: Use your cue every time so that you can start and establish a routine.While some studies vary on how long it takes to create a habit, you can expect it to be around 2 months, depending on the difficulty – and that’s OK! Use your routine to take steps toward your full-on GOOD habit.

Reward: This part of the formula should be fun! Experiment a bit here with what you’d like to reward yourself with. Know that it’s OK to have a great workout and still eat a piece of chocolate. It’s actually rewarding to work really hard on a project – at work or at home – and then take a break with your kids, pets or have some alone time. This will create structure while also giving you something to look forward to!

Let me give a little example. While you already have a good habit of brushing your teeth, maybe you’d like to start flossing. First, create a CUE for yourself: Set out your floss by your toothbrush. Seeing this cue and following through with it each time for around 2 months or so will create your ROUTINE. Be sure to REWARD yourself right after you complete your flossing routine each night. This can be any form of little reward you would like!

You can do this with bigger tasks than starting to floss. Yes, other goals of yours may take much longer than the couple of minutes every day it would take to floss, and therefore cultivating and maintaining that progress may take longer as well. But that’s OK. I can say from experience, that the reward in the end is so worth it.


Why we need good habits


Setting good habits for ourselves becomes even easier as you continue. It will permeate throughout the different areas of our lives. Not only that, you can piggyback one good habit off of another and that makes it even easier to create new ones.

Having good habits in different areas of your life will inspire those around you as well. It’s a give and take in this situation. When I started to committing to exercising more every week, my friends noticed and asked for some advice on how to get started. A simple Google search can give much of the same information, but we all know that we love to ask our friends for REAL-life advice when it comes to almost anything.


How to break those bad habits


I know we all want to work toward good habits, right? But it’s not that simple. To make good habits, we have to first drive ourselves away from the bad ones. The good news is that habits are malleable. The best way to change it is to understand your structure for your bad habit:

  • Identify the habit you want to change or break. Then see what cues are causing you to want to do that habit.
  • Think of your routine and the reward you get out of it. Is there an even better reward you can give yourself to change the habit?
  • Remember that habits don’t catch on right away. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t stick right away. Habits take a while and take routine to become consistent.
  • Example: Unhealthy snacking – ask yourself: Where are you? What time is it? What’s your emotional state? Who else is around you? What action preceded the urge? Do this multiple times throughout whenever you’re having this habit kick in and start to look for your similarities. Is it the time of day? Is it the people you’re with? When you begin to know these factors, you can come up with a reformulated habit plan to replace that bad habit.


What’s Next?


I hope these tips are helpful to you in your journey to assessing your good and bad habits! Don’t be afraid to take some time to reflect periodically on what you’d honestly like to change and what you think you could do better with. My biggest action item for you is to take it one step at a time. By that I mean, don’t go full ham on eating super, crazy healthy AND exercising 5 times a week. Build up to your good habits and stick with the Cue, Routine, Reward formula to create a personalized system!

I talk a lot more about cultivating good habits in episode 031 of Productivity Paradox. Listen on iTunes now! And if you’re enjoying the podcast and the blog based around these productivity topics, feel free to leave me a 5-start review and let me know what you think!

You can always request to join in the conversation over at inkWELL Press Productivity Co. – our online community via Facebook. If you haven’t joined, click here! And if you’re already apart of the group, be sure to join in the conversation about your good OR bad habits!

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create and cultivate systems for good habits. learn how to maintain and keep up with your habits with the best productivity tips from Productivity Paradox host, Tonya Dalton

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton