How I Changed My Habits…For Real This Time

Have you ever conducted a self-audit of your life and found a few areas that required immediate attention? I certainly have. I always ended up with a list of “I need to” action items:

I need to eat more vegetables.

I need to work out more.

I need to stop watching Real Housewives of [insert any city].

The problem was that I could take the right action 1 or 2 times, but I never really formed the habits that would lead to real results. After years of making excuses and feeling the pain of my bad habits, I made a serious effort to develop healthy ones that would improve my life. Here are the top three strategies I used to change my habits…for real this time.

One: I identified the habit I wanted to develop and then I wrote down my “Why”.

I chose a positive approach by focusing my energy on creating healthy habits instead of dropping the bad ones. Then I wrote out honest, specific reasons for why I wanted to develop the habits. For example, when I decided I was going to stick to a workout routine, I didn’t give myself a generic, impersonal reason such as it being good for me. I chose to work out for two reasons:

1. I physically had more energy to accomplish my goals throughout the day when I consistently worked out.

2. I was happier with the way I looked in my clothes after I consistently worked out.

So when I was tempted to skip out on my exercise for the day, my “Why” gave me the swift kick in the ass I needed to start running.

Two: I listened to motivational speeches on a regular basis.

I listened to them so much that I could hear them in my mind even when they were not playing. When my alarm clock went off in the morning and I was tempted to hit the snooze button, I could hear Les Brown saying “You’ve got to be hungry for what you want!”

Check this clip out if you are looking for a new motivator.

Three: I constantly celebrated my wins along the way.

At first I thought I wanted physical rewards. So I gave myself shopping privileges if I consistently performed a habit 5 days in a row. But…umm…I found ways to cheat my own system and ended up shopping a lot more than working out!

So I canceled that rewards plan and replaced it with a simple gold star program. As silly as it may seem, I found deep satisfaction in those shiny little stars! I eventually downloaded the app, Productive – Habit Tracker, to log my progress and all of my daily gold stars.


Jalyn Isley is a human resources manager at PepsiCo who has nearly ten years of experience in employee relations and talent development. She has built her career around helping professionals deliver results and position themselves for career success. In 2015, Jalyn founded her own practice, CEO Coaching, to help more people develop their inner CEOs and turn their goals into realities.

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