A word on habits. They’re difficult. End of. Bad habits are hard to break, new habits are hard to keep.

I used to think that willpower alone would get me six-pack abs and a million-pound empire but I was relying on the wrong thing. You’ve probably heard that willpower is a finite resource and therefore runs out and that’s pretty rubbish for those of us who want to cultivate new habits.

So what do we do?

A little trick that my coach once told me was this…

Link them to something you already do then link them together and just do it once.

Here’s what I mean.

I wake up, I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Once, I’ve brushed my teeth, I used to jump back into bed and scroll through social media until it was time to get out of bed.

That’s bad news if you’re wanting to cultivate a healthy habit like a morning stretching routine. 

Here’s the new improved version.

When I brush my teeth, I do a little stretch. Just one rep of something. Then I get into the mood and do another. 

Once, I’ve done that, I walk to the kitchen and take my vitamins.

No messing about, no thinking, no resistance, just do it!

Then I put the kettle on for my morning coffee then do some more stretches there and then in the kitchen.

I linked stretching with brushing my teeth and I just did one rep. 

It could be one glug of water to kick start your day with hydration after you’ve brushed your teeth. It may be one minute of silence to start your meditation while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.

Habits don’t have to be tricky really. They’re just actions you take one after the other. It gets easier as you do it again and again. If you take the pressure off by just doing one, you’ll find that you’ll want to do one, then another, then another.

Like with this document. I told myself I’d write one word and I’ve written 400 now! 


1.     Pick a habit that you want to instil.

2.     Break the habit down into “one rep”.

3.     “Attach” it to something you already do.

4.     Do the thing!

5.     Then if you feel like you can do more, do more!

6.     Record your progress.

Great “One Rep” Habits

  • Drink one glass of water -> Drink 2-3 litres of water a day

  • Stretch your arms up to the sky -> 10 minutes Morning Yoga Flow

  • Walk for 2 minutes around the block -> Walk 10k steps per day

  • Write 10 words -> Write 1,000 words per day

  • Take a moment to breathe -> Meditation Habit


Extra bonus points.

Habits achieve something else when you record them. They show you that you’re cultivating not only the habit, but the character of someone who is committed.

Commitment is one of the key characteristics of winners. You’re a winner, right? So by noticing your commitment to your habits, you’re reinforcing that you ARE a committed person. Double bonus points for you!

What habits aren’t.

Again, habits are hard to change and there’s a tendency to beat ourselves up when we try to start something new. They’re not easy. We’re bombarded with images of quick fixes and “one secret trick” from marketers. The shininess draws us in and we expect to be able to do it because we set high standards for ourselves.

But let’s do some maths and use the example of getting fit.

We launch ourselves into a new habit of doing squats for that all-important booty and start with 10 reps. Then the next day, we’re a bit tired and only do 5. Then the next day, we stop cos our willpower has evaporated.

Then we sit and curse ourselves for not having the will power to change so we give up and for the next 30 days we do nothing.

Conversely, we do one rep on the first day, two reps on the second day and build up to ten a day. Over the month we will do MORE than if we went crazy at the start. Even if we take a day or two off!

It is easier to do one and build upwards, than to do ten and then give up. It’s also worth mentioning that if we start and stop, we’re signalling to our subconscious that we’re a quitter or we don’t have willpower. Yikes! So start small, start slow, build consistency, forgive yourself for not having willpower because you have something else… a plan and the knowledge on HOW TO BUILD habits correctly!


Carolynne Alexander

Champion of Mission-Driven Leaders
Better Humans→Better Businesses→Better World
Ruckus Maker


The Museletter

Weekly Leadership & Performance Coaching from Carolynne Alexander

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This