How to Create a Habit Easily

Have you ever tried to create a new habit and struggled to make it stick?

Today we’re teaching you how to create a habit easily….we’re reviewing what the research says to bust some myths around how long it takes to create a new habit and finish up by giving you the easy 4 step recipe designed by a world renowned behavior specialist from Stanford University.

A study titled “Habit Formation and Change” published in the European Journal of Social Psychology… aimed to investigate the time it takes to form a new habit.

The researchers recruited 96 participants and asked them to perform a new behavior (drinking a glass of water after dinner) over a 12-week period. They found that:

  • Habit formation was a gradual process, not a sudden switch. It took an average of 66 days for participants to reach automaticity, meaning they performed the behavior without conscious thought.

  • But here’s where it gets interesting, the researchers also found that there was significant individual variability. Some participants formed habits much faster (as few as 18 days), while others took much longer (over 80 days).

  • Consistency was key. Participants who completed the behavior more consistently formed habits faster.

Another study…titled “Behavioral Theories and Their Applications to Health Promotion: How Do Theories Explain Health Behaviors?” published in Health Education & Behavior……analyzed various studies on habit formation and behavior change, drawing on different theoretical frameworks. They found that

  • “A study of young smokers indicated that it took an average of 4 weeks for cigarette smokers to quit smoking and 8 weeks to reliably maintain non-smoking behavior.”

  • “Another study with adults trying to increase their fruit and vegetable intake found that it took an average of 12 weeks for individuals to show consistent changes in their dietary habits.”

It’s important to note that these specific timelines apply to the particular behaviors studied and your timeline is going to depend on the new habit you choose to create and you a person.

Professor BJ Fogg is head of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford and known worldwide for his research and success in new behavior and habit design. His research shows the key to habit formation is to make it easy by matching a new behavior with an already existing behavior

Here’s the cool thing, you can start using this very simple recipe right after you finish listening to this episode. You might even make finishing listening to our daily productivity episodes the cue.  Key to success here is to start small,  BJ calls these Tiny Habits. Here’s the 4 steps.

  1. Fill in the blank of the new habit you want to create after  “I will….
    For example,

    I will drink 64oz watch each day
    I will do 100 push ups each day
    I will review my To Do List every morning
    I will floss my teeth
    I will eat healthy
    Will work out 4 days a week

  2. Now fill in the blank, “ After I… to complete your recipe.

For example, if you want to drink more water each day and you’re a regular listener of the Productivity podcast, your recipe would be:

“I will drink water after I finish listening to the Productivity Podcast each day.”

Or say you want to start doing 100 pushups each day. Your recipe could be,

I will do my pushups after I brush my teeth each morning.

Or say you want to focus more on using your To Do List.

Your recipe could be, I will review my to do list after I make my first cup of coffee or tea

  1. Step 3, make your recipe small so start so it’s easy to accomplish

    Going back to our stay hydrated each day instead of saying

    “I will drink water after I finish listening to the Productivity Podcast each day.”

Make it smaller and say, I will take one sip of water after I finish listening to the Productivity Podcast each day.”

Our pushup habit example would start as:

I will do one pushup after I brush my teeth each morning.

Our To Do List habit would start as I will open my to do list after I make my first cup of coffee or tea 

If you’re saying, Brandon, that feels too easy.

It is easy and that’s the point because starting a whole new habit is hard, by breaking it down into tiny steps you get to the big goal habit before you know it.

The fourth step:

  1. Increase your recipe as you make progress. 

Remember, the key is to match the new behavior with an already existing behavior like listening to his podcast, brushing your teeth, and/or making your morning coffee because it will keep you consistent having the already existing behavior as your anchor and cue.

So, ditch the pressure and embrace the power of tiny consistent steps. By understanding the science and implementing this recipe, you will unlock the magic of habit formation and transform your life, one tiny change at a time. You have the power to create the habits to be your best self.

Your move.

If you liked this post you’ll ❤️ the…PRODUCTIVITY Podcast I host where you get a daily dose of productivity in LESS than 4 minutes a day.