How to Form a New Habit

Form a new habit that will be sure to stick using mental rehearsal.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #163

It's the time of year to make your resolutions come true! After reading or listening to my last episode on how to set the right goals, you have outcome goals and the process goals you hope will lead to those outcomes. Now you must make those process goals a habit. Scientific American Mind magazine says it takes 9 weeks to form a new habit. Hogwash. The answer to how to form a habit can be found in fairy tales.

You can also get help forming new habits, working less, and doing more with the programs I offer at http://www.SteverRobbins.com.

How to Form a New Habit

The Evil Queen in Snow White is misunderstood. She just had an unhealthy obsession with an unrealistic, media-hyped body image. She would sooth her insecurity by asking her magic mirror, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" It said "Snow White," who was, of course, pretty fair. So the Evil Queen fed Snow White a poisoned apple. But having Snow White gone gave the Queen time for serious introspection. She realized a more mature response to her body issues would be exercising more, lowering her saturated fats, and eating fewer empty carbs. Her cook didn't know South Beach, so the Queen resolved to cook for herself. But being a Queen, evil or not, is a big job! Exercise and cooking take time, not including the time to read the cookbooks and exercise books.

Right now, you fill 24 hours a day with activity (sleep is an activity). You'll need some of that time for the new habit you're forming. If your new habit involves adding something to your schedule, you have to drop something else to make the time. Otherwise, even if you know how, you won't have the chance to form that new habit.

Make Time for Your New Habit

If you resolve to stop doing something, like stop eating Oreo ice cream cake (say it isn't so!), that's what you'll drop. Decide now what else you'll do with that time. "Instead of eating Oreo ice cream cake, I will snack on carrots and hummus I will carry with me in a small, plastic container." If you add something, like packing up daily carrots and hummus, you might have to cut out watching that extra episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey you DVR. Sacrifice, my friends!

The Evil Queen also resolved to buy fewer new clothes, which she had used to fill the void in her self-esteem. She realized she could keep her shopping trips, only she would shop for healthy groceries and visit Healthworks Gym for Women in the time she used to spend shopping. Combining two outcomes like this is an example of leverage, which I cover in detail in Chapter 9 of my book Get-it-Done Guy's 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More.

She could make time other ways, too. Having a strong sense of duty as a Monarch, she often stayed late at court, to help peasants resolve disputes. She could leave on time, instead, and find time that way. It would affect her daily caseload, but being self-employed, she could make that decision. And besides, with the money she saved on clothes, a small pay cut was fine.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.