The habits we own... Once upon a Easter Sunday, a husband came into the kitchen as his wife was cutting the ends off the ham before placing it in the roasting pan. "Why do you do that" he asked? "Do what?" his wife replied. "Cut the ends of the ham." was his come back. "Because it is the way you cook a ham" she giggled at his silly question. "But why" he asked again. "Because my Mother taught me, and this is how she does it" was the final answer. So when his wife's Mother showed up that afternoon, he asked her. "Why do you cut the ends of the ham off before putting it in the pan to cook?" She smiled and said "my Mother taught me to cook ham and, that is how she said it was done." So when Grandma came in, the curious husband went to her and asked, "why is it that we cut the ends of the ham off before baking it?" "I have to" replied Grandma "otherwise it is too big to fit into my roasting pan."

Oh the habits that become law...

Creating habits is far easier when we make use of our current routines. The concept of if-then planning is built around environmental “triggers” that we can use to let us know that it’s time to act on our habit, picking a regular part of your schedule and then building another “link in the chain” by adding a new habit helps that habit stick.

For instance, instead of “I will keep a cleaner house,” you could aim for, “When I come home, I’ll change my clothes and then clean my room/office/kitchen.”

So the next time you decide to “eat healthier,” instead try “If it is lunch time, then I will eat meat and vegetables.”

There is great power in being boring. A study on self-control found that making repeated choices depleted the mental energy of the subjects, even if those choices were mundane and relatively pleasant. If you want to maintain long-term discipline, it’s best to “Identify the aspects of your life that you consider mundane — and then ‘routinize’ those aspects as much as possible. In short, make fewer decisions.”

For lasting change, the steps you take must ultimately change your environment and schedule. Stop buying snacks if you want to stop snacking (no willpower needed),

Pack a very similar lunch every day of the week, and embrace the power of routine to get the necessary done each day.

New habits are often very fragile, and it is for this reason that we must eliminate any source of friction that may lead us astray. These “ah-forget-it” moments are the specific moments where you find yourself saying, “Forget this, it’s not worth the effort!”, explains why we are so likely to abandon ship with a new habit at the first slip-up.

The solution? Examine your habit and find exactly where things start to break down.

You can even incorporate an “if-then” scenario once you find the culprit. For instance, if fatigue is stopping you from cooking a healthy dinner after work, you could set up a system of “If I’m feeling tired after work, then I will take a 20-minute nap and listen to music for five minutes to get myself motivated.”

What about you?

How do you create new regular habits?