How to Develop a Habit That Will Last

Are you looking for effective strategies on how to develop a new habit?

Understanding the differences in habit formation is crucial to cultivating a lifestyle with healthy habits. Whether you’re adopting a routine of healthy eating, committing to regular exercise, or eliminating a bad habit, the journey varies for everyone.

Developing habits lies in the emotional response that sparks the change. Consider a pivotal career feedback session you’ve had or a realization that professional growth can provoke a shift toward your future success.

Developing habits lies in the emotional response that sparks the change. Consider a pivotal career feedback session you’ve had or a realization that professional growth can provoke a shift toward your future success.

This moment of clarity, often motivated by your wanting to achieve greater accomplishments or the fear of missed opportunities, can help you quickly build healthy habits and positive habits. It sets you on a path from complacency to a dynamic routine that prioritizes continuous improvement, goal-setting, and the cultivation of habits that align with business success and personal growth.

Starting your path to new habits, especially those that enhance your mental health and well-being, requires an understanding of the differences between desire, action, and change. By recognizing the moments that inspire each habit and actively nurturing them, you can pave the way for a life of healthy habits and positive transformation.

In this blog on habit formation, I share the principles of creating lasting good habits, overcoming bad habits, and habit development. Let’s get into it.

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How Long Does it Take to Form a Habit?

According to the research, it takes about 21 days to break or form a habit pattern of medium complexity. Habits that are more complex or difficult to incorporate into your lifestyle may take longer.

21 Days to Break a Habit or Make a Habit

Three weeks may not sound like a very long time, but you can create powerful habits within 21 days.

By this, we mean simple habits such as getting up earlier at a specific hour, exercising each morning before you start, listening to podcasts in your car, going to bed at a certain hour, being punctual for appointments, planning every day, starting with your most important tasks each day, or completing your tasks before you start something else.

These habits aren’t very complex and can be easily developed in as little as a week to 21 days through practice and repetition.

Overcoming Challenges in Habit Formation

Forming new habits comes with challenges, but with the right strategies, they can become stepping stones to success. Be ready for potential roadblocks, such as decreasing motivation or changes in routine, and prepare yourself with proactive solutions to maintain consistency.

A strong foundation of self-discipline is essential, and it helps you persevere through setbacks and maintain focus on your long-term goals. Embrace the power of resilience by viewing any setbacks as opportunities for growth and refinement

Having a support system can provide accountability and encouragement, while positive reinforcement through meaningful rewards can boost your motivation. Stay adaptable, allowing your habits and routines to evolve with your changing goals, and remember that patience and persistence are your allies in this transformative process.

By acknowledging these challenges and adopting a flexible, determined approach, you can effectively embed new, positive habits into your life, paving the way for continuous personal development and lasting change.

How To Develop a Habit

Over the years, a simple, powerful, proven methodology has been determined for new habit development. It is very much like a recipe for preparing a dish in the kitchen.

You can use it to develop any habit that you desire. Over time, you will find it easier and easier to develop the successful daily habits that you want to incorporate into your personality.


1) Make a Decision

Begin by making a firm decision. Decide unequivocally that you’re going to adopt a specific behavior consistently, applying it every time the situation calls for it. For instance, if your goal is to wake up early and exercise, set your alarm for the exact time you plan to rise.

Then, when it goes off, promptly get up, dress in your workout gear, and start your exercise routine. This initial step of full commitment is crucial in setting the foundation for your new healthy habit.

2) Maintain Absolute Consistency

Every habit is built on the foundation of repetition. When you act repeatedly, your brain begins to automate the process, reducing the mental effort required to complete the activity. This automation is what turns a deliberate action into a steadfast habit.

Consistency ensures that this transformation isn’t just a possibility but a guaranteed outcome. It’s the habit-building of repeated action, the daily commitment, that cements your new behavior into your neural pathways, making it a natural element of your life.

3) Tell Others You’re Practicing a New Behavior

Social accountability plays a pivotal role in habit formation, offering a unique blend of motivation, support, and a sense of obligation that can drive you to stick to your new routine. Sharing your goal to form a new habit with friends, family, or even a dedicated support group can create a network of cheerleaders and accountability partners.

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The act of stating your intentions publicly increases your commitment and the likelihood that you’ll follow through. It is amazing how much more disciplined and determined you will become when you know that others are watching you to see if you have the willpower to follow through on your resolution.

4) Visualize Your New Habit

Visualize yourself performing or behaving in a particular way in a particular situation. The more often you visualize and imagine yourself acting as if you already had the new habit, the more rapidly this new behavior will be accepted by your subconscious mind and become automatic.

Begin by creating a clear, detailed mental image of the desired habit. Imagine the environment, the actions you are taking, the sensations, and even the emotions you feel. The more vivid and detailed the visualization, the more impactful it will be. Dedicate a few minutes each day to this practice, preferably in a quiet space where you can focus without interruption.

5) Create an Affirmation

Positive affirmations are powerful tools in the habit formation process. They are positive, empowering statements that, when repeated frequently, can help to reprogram your subconscious mind, encouraging it to adopt new beliefs and behaviors.

Create an affirmation that you repeat over and over to yourself. This repetition dramatically increases the speed at which you develop the new habit. For example, you can say something like, “I get up and get going immediately at 6:00 AM each morning!”

Repeat these words the last thing before you fall asleep. In most cases, you will automatically wake up minutes before the alarm clock goes off, and soon you will need no alarm clock at all.

6) Commit to Perseverance

The journey of embedding a new habit into your life is often a test of perseverance. Committing to this process means pushing through difficulties and maintaining your course despite the inevitable ebbs and flows of motivation. This commitment ensures that the habit becomes an integral part of your life, leading to long-lasting change.

Understand that habit formation is not an overnight endeavor but a gradual process that unfolds over time. Acknowledging this from the start can help set realistic expectations for progress and foster a mindset geared towards sustained effort. Keep your eyes on the long-term benefits, allowing your vision of the future to motivate you through periods of waning enthusiasm.

7) Reward Yourself

The last, and most important step is to reward yourself for practicing your new habits. Positive reinforcement plays a crucial role in solidifying new habits, as it taps into the brain’s reward center, encouraging you to repeat the behavior.

Rewards can trigger the release of dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. So you’ll soon begin to associate, at an unconscious level, the pleasure of the reward with such habits. You set up your force field of positive consequences that you unconsciously look forward to as the result of engaging in the behavior or habit that you have decided upon.

Embrace Your New Habits Each Day

Each step in the habit formation process is designed to build a habit as well as the resilience, discipline, and consistency needed to turn your desired behaviors into automatic practices that enhance your life and propel you toward your goals.

As you implement these steps to building new habits, keep in mind that patience and perseverance are your greatest strengths. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and there will be moments of struggle and doubt. However, if you’re able to overcome these challenges, the true strength of your commitment is tested and your capacity for change is realized.

If you want to learn how to accomplish your next goal of building a new habit, download my free 14-Step Goal-Setting Guide. By following these steps, you’ll eventually find that the habits you form are not just new behaviors but stepping stones to a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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