Habit Building Basics

In order to have momentum, you have to be able to trust your client’s consistency. That means you work on turning their practice into a habit before you work on expanding the practice.

Here are the main strategies for building or breaking a habit.


People often frame their habit in terms that are too large to do all at once. Your job is to make the initial habit smaller.

For example, write for 8 hours is an impossible habit, while sit down and start writing is a great habit. BJ Fogg’s idea of Tiny Habits and David Allen’s GTD idea of Next Action are good sources of background information.


Habits need to be triggered (you have to remember to do them somehow). The habit gets even stronger if they are anchored to something consistent, “Write down your top priority as soon as you sit down at your desk.”

If there isn’t an obvious anchor, you can create a reminder system (for example, the reminder feature in Coach.me).

Replacement habits

For breaking habits, it’s often easier to create new habits that replace or circumvent the bad habit.

For instance, instead of ordering dessert, create the habit of ordering tea.

Or, instead of checking your email when you wake up (on your iPhone), make the habit of charging your phone in a different room before you go to bed.


The other thing to know about habits is that they are often situational. For example, to give up eating sweets, you’re really breaking the habits of dessert at dinner, afternoon snack, buying candy at the checkout line, eating cupcakes for your coworker’s birthday, ordering RedVines at the movies, etc.

You need to build up the habit for each scenario including travel, work vs. home, and busy times.