Fitness is a $30 billion industry. More than 40% of Americans are overweight. How do you reconcile both these figures? One could say that most people don’t go back to the gym after the first week. Or that they aren’t doing the right exercises. Or that their calorie intake is too high.

All these viewpoints are correct. There is also a fourth reason. We human beings aren’t very good at when it comes to consistency. We have the imagination of setting up the most challenging goals for ourselves but lack the patience which we need to get from where we are to where we want to be.

Put simply, we can’t make good habits stick. Try as we might, our brain is super-capable of churning up excuses that detract us from the right path. The path which we know will lead us to glory. The track which, sadly, most of us aren’t disciplined enough to stay on.

Here’s how you can beat the odds and make good habits stick:

#1: Start with baby steps

Have you ever witnessed how your smartphone comes back to life when you place it on a charging table /phone charger station? Regardless of how latest its model is, its battery level would go from zero to hundred by taking baby steps of one percent at a time.

Apply the same example to your life. Provided you want to tone your body, start with five push-ups and not fifty. If you are planning to run a marathon, run for fifteen minutes on the treadmill and not an hour. In other words, go easy at first.

#2: Reward yourself for staying on the right path

Assuming you’re like the majority, you’re much more likely to beat yourself up for a lousy showing than you’re for patting yourself on the back for a good one. Put simply, no matter how excellent our people management skills are, we always go for the carrot over the stick when we’re managing ourselves.

Change this approach if you want your new habits to stick. Research shows that every time we reward ourselves, our brain releases chemicals that make us feel accomplished. Such feelings of pride egg us to go one better in the future.

#3: Create systems, not goals

As James Clear notes in “Atomic Habits,” most people fail because they overrate the importance of goals and underrate the value of systems. Have trouble differentiating between the two? Then let me explain with an example.

All the entrepreneurs out there have a goal to set up a million-dollar business. Only a few have systems in place to test the viability of their product, hire competent employees and run successful marketing campaigns. As you might guess, the few will succeed and the many will, most likely, falter.

#4: Surround yourself with encouraging voices

Know what the surest way to make good habits stick is? Surrounding ourselves with people who encourage us to do the right thing. That means that if you want to go on a keto diet but have a roommate who orders KFC every other day, it’s time to change your room.  

Conversely, if you want to lose 20kgs in the next few months and are friends with a person who has a history of losing weight, you’ll be much more likely to have a trimmed waistline. That means that you should be extremely selective about people you keep company with.


None of us need reminding that building good habits can be difficult. At the same time, we’re all aware of how much our lives could improve for the better if we stick to then. All you need is a bit patience – and the application of any of the above mentioned tips – and you’ll stand an excellent chance of retaining good habits.