Creating and Sustaining Habits: 4 Principles for Easy Implementation

Curated by Vicki Stockbridge


Thanks to evolution, all-or-nothing thinking is programmed into most of us.

In today’s world though, this default “all-or-nothing” mindset isn’t nearly as helpful, especially in transitional periods where we’re shifting our thoughts and behavior into more conscious, newfound habits. 

Here are 4 principles that will help us change our approach, so we create and sustain long-lasting habits with way less effort: 

Plan for disruption. 

Meetings run over. A new assignment pops up. It doesn’t take much for our agenda to change.
For anything new, create a plan B for the habit you’re trying to implement. When you plan for an alternative option, you won’t feel as “off-course” when something unexpected comes up.

When creating your Plan B, choose a time you’re usually free: “If there’s an emergency at work and I can’t go on my run, I will do my morning run on Saturday.” 

Adopt mindful time-blocking.

When we time-block every hour of every day, we not only create unnecessary rigidity with our schedule, but we’re telling ourselves that everything’s important. This scatters our focus and energy and makes us (way) less effective.

Focus on integrating 1-2 important habits a week and prioritizing them on the calendar. 

Expand your definition of what “counts.” 

Although we want to remain protective of our time blocks from the obvious distractions (social media, busy work, etc), we also don’t want to hold our plans too firmly.

If something important comes up, and you only have 30 minutes to write instead of an hour, write for those 30 minutes! Congratulate yourself for your ability to adapt! (An immense superpower.)

If your 15-minute meditation is shortened to 3 minutes because you slept in or your child woke up early, that also still counts! 

See everything new as an experiment.

Whenever we try to incorporate something new into our lives, there are a lot of potential unknowns, like how long it might take or how hard it might be.

If something doesn’t work out, consider it a data point, and adjust your next attempt, modifying the intensity or trying a different approach altogether. 

For example, imagine you start running as a form of weekly exercise. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel great, but you stay aware & curious:

”My shins aren’t loving this. What if I tried something low-impact the next time I work out? I wonder how doing this 20-min Pilates workout will make my body feel.”

Taking an experimental approach will not only diversify your experiences, but you will also learn so much more about what energizes you. 


What is an important habit you’ve been having a hard time maintaining in your life?

Is the habit getting lost in a sea of other priorities? Is there no Plan B? Or are you too rigid on what this habit “should” look like that you won’t try anything new? Use the principles above to diagnose the problem! 

Curated from: Your Monday (1/22/2024) Moment #83

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