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Why habits are so powerful



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by Nicola Rankin in goals, habits

Habit Change 101:

Why are habits so powerful?

In this session on why habits are so powerful, we’re going to cover:

  • what a habit actually is
  • why habits are so powerful
  • why this is important to YOU and your goals

Lets get started!

What is a habit?

Whether you are creating a new habit or quitting an old one, having a basic understanding of how habits work is a good starting point.

“habit: an acquired behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary” –

This is one of my favourite definitions of ‘habit’ because it tells you what habits are, how they are formed and why they are so powerful.

Behaviour Pattern

A habit is not an isolated action. There is always a trigger or cue that precedes doing the habitual action. The trigger could be another action – such as brushing your teeth after finishing breakfast. Or it could be an emotion or physical sensation – such as having a glass of wine if you feel stressed.

So, if you want to create a new habit, you deliberately use another action, emotion or physical sensation as your trigger for your new habit. In my experience, it’s easiest to use another action as a trigger.

Followed Regularly

Things we do everyday become habitual more quickly. Especially in the first few months of creating new habit, aim to do it everyday if possible, after the same ‘trigger’.

There are exceptions. If you have a morning routine for work days, and you add a new habit to that, it’s not really necessary that you add it to your weekend morning routine. Unless your work day and weekend routines are pretty much the same, then I’d recommend doing your new habit everyday.

Almost Involuntary

When we do a new habit after an existing one, we create a chain of habits that we do automatically – you will almost certainly already have this in your life. Do you have to set a reminder or debate with yourself about when to brush your teeth in the morning? When to eat breakfast and shower? These are usually things that we do in the same order everyday, so they become automatic. That’s what you want, and can create, for your new habit – that it happens pretty much automatically.

Why habits are so powerful

The fact that habits are regular and automatic is why they are so powerful. You can think of it like an automatic savings plan – a small amount of money gets transferred automatically every pay day (regularly) to a savings account. Then, at the end of the year, you have met your savings goal without hardly having to think about it!

For more on the power of habits check out The Power of a Positive HabitThe Secret to Automating Your Success and The Lazy Humans Guide to Reaching for the Stars

Why this is important to YOU and your goals

Not all of us think about changing our habits. But most of us have goals of some sort, maybe for health, travel, finances, business, relationships or whatever. Any goal can be achieved if you take automatic and regular actions towards achieving that goal. Well, the automatic isn’t strictly required, but it makes it much, much easier!

Create habits that support your most important goals and you are well on your way to achieving them.


Spotting the existing good habits in YOUR life can really help it seem real, and show you that this is already working for you right now.

Can you think of an automatic action or habit that’s already helping you with one of your goals?

Write down 3 other actions that you could take regularly that would help achieve your most important goals. Could you turn them into habits?

Then read the next in the series: Habit Change 101: Starting Small – successfully create a new habit

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