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The first step to building new habits (that most people forget)

May 29, 2024

The first step to building new habits (that most people forget)

The first step to building any new habit is setting a habit intention and being specific.

It's about defining and clarifying what your habit actually involves.

When we asked our community what habits they would like to build, "exercising more regularly" ranked in the top 3 responses. 

That's awesome, but...
It's too vague.
It's not measurable, thus difficult to track. 
It leaves several questions unanswered. 
What counts as exercise?
How long do you want to exercise for?
Where are you going to exercise?
What does "regularly" mean? Once a week? Twice a week? Three times?


Without a clear habit intention, you're forced to think about the "what, when and where" every time you attempt to "exercise". 
This utilises an unnecessary amount of brain power and since the human brain follows the law of least effort, it deems your exercise habit "too hard" and it never ends up sticking. 


The solution:

Define what "exercise" means to you and make a plan for when and where you will exercise.

  • 3km walk 5 x week after breakfast.
  • 7am pilates class 3 x week at Upstate.
  • 20 min dumbbell workouts in the living room 3 x week when Hudson is napping.
  • Run 5km on treadmill 4 x week before lunch.

Why habit intentions play such a big role

A specific habit intention = plan of action


Setting a specific habit intention increases the likelihood that you’ll follow through because the plan provides clarity and alleviates decision fatigue.

Use this formula:

I will [habit] at [time] in [location]


What to consider in your definition:

  • Time of day
  • Location 
  • Weekly minimum
  • Days of the week the habit applies to

But, what about flexibility?

As parents of young kids, we know it's not always possible to adhere to an exact time of day, but hashing out a rough plan, like figuring out the number of times per week you want to exercise and the type(s) of exercise you want to engage in is still incredibly helpful. 
If an exact time isn't realistic, choose a window of time, like before breakfast or after lunch. 
If listing specific days feels too rigid for you, choose a weekly frequency or weekly minimum.