How to Jumpstart Winning Habits


Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get so much done? When they say, ”I’m going to…” start exercising, eat healthier, get organized, read more, etc., you know that they’re going to make it happen.

But when you try to go after similar goals, it’s a different story. You might be able to stick to them for a while, but then, somewhere along the way, you lose your motivation and quit.

When that happens often enough, it’s easy to get frustrated and discouraged. Creating and sustaining winning habits, however, doesn’t have to be so difficult and painful. In fact, it can be quite easy. It can even be a lot of fun.

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What are Self-Sabotaging Habits?

Here is the truth about how our mind works. Deep down inside of us, we absolutely dislike effort, especially when it comes to things that we don’t feel like doing. We want what is easy, pleasurable, sweet and fun; we don’t actually like the idea of hard work or delayed gratification.

Examples of Self-Sabotaging Habits

  • Have you ever decided to lose weight and then found yourself yet again going for those cookies that you have decided not to touch?
  • Have you ever signed up for a gym membership, go twice and then just stop going?
  • Did you made a promise to yourself to save money but then end up spending more than you should have on restaurants, online shopping or on that really cute sweater that was being sold at an incredible bargain?

Combatting Self Sabotage with Environmental Manipulation

There is only one way to completely change your behavior: completely change your environment. Your best bet for getting rid of self sabotaging habits and start crushing your goals is using The Rule of Environmental Manipulation.

This means that you never, ever trust your mind to make the right choice because you KNOW that it will pull you toward excuses. To have the upper hand in the battle between your better self, the one with the goals and the things to do, and your impulsive self, that is ready to make any excuse to justify not making the effort- manipulate your immediate environment

This is how you show your impulsive self that you mean business getting ride of self sabotaging habits:

  • Get the chocolate out of the house.
  • Put your sneakers and gym clothes right by your bed. Get up and wear them right away.
  • Set up autopay for saving.
  • Eat from smaller plates.
  • Disable social media notifications.

Beyond the Rule of Environmental Manipulation we can work towards building winning habits to have a lasting impact on our lives and proactively beat that self-sabotaging behavior.

What Are Winning Habits

Your habits play an important role in your life. Having winning habits leads you to the life that you dream about and wish for. Having bad habits, on the other hand, will lead you to failures. So, it’s essential that you build good habits.

Here is what we all need to understand: habits are an absolute must in our day-to-day actions. Why? because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. In other words, the brain will make almost any routine into a habit because it allows our minds to just take a break and work on autopilot.

5 Tips for Building Habits That Last

Here are 5 tips that you can use right away to start building habits that last. 

1. Start Ridiculously Small

Most people want to create big change as quickly as possible. They want to go from zero to four gym sessions every week, switch to a healthy diet overnight, and meditate for 20 minutes every day even though they’ve barely managed 5 minutes in the past.

The problem, of course, is that this requires a tremendous amount of willpower. Research has shown that willpower works a lot like a muscle. If you use it a lot, it will get tired. Plus, when it does, you’ll be very likely to quit.

The solution to this problem is to start so small that it hardly requires any willpower at all:

  • Instead of doing 50 pushups per day, start with 5.
  • Instead of switching to a new diet, add a vegetable to every lunch.

2. Adopt This 3-Step, New Habits Crushing System

Biting your nails? Eating food that is bad for you late at night in front of the TV? Spending money that you really do not need to spend? Wasting time instead of being focused and productive?
Drop the self-criticism. There is always a way for you to change your habits to those that will serve you best.
So here is the most important thing to know about changing habits to change our lives: you can’t extinguish a bad habit. You can only change it by creating an alternative one. Does that sound complicated? Not at all. New habits are created when we use a very simple, 3-step process. I call it the CRR System:

  • Cue
  • Routine
  • Reward

Let’s take the example of going to the gym every morning.

Cue: sneakers and gym outfit (socks included) by the bed
Routine: get out of bed, drink coffee, leave the house by 6:30 a.m.
Reward: smoothie after a workout

Another Example: To stop the habit of eating unhealthy snacks at the TV every night.

Cue: a big pot of herb tea and a glass and a small bowl of fruit by the TV every evening
Routine: sit by the TV, relax, drink herb tea, eat fruit
Reward: new pants by the end of each 7-day successful evenings

3. Have a Clear Goal

If you’re serious about your new habit, vague intentions like “I’ll try to hit the gym three times this week” won’t cut it.

Research has shown that you’ll be much more likely to follow through if you’ve decided beforehand exactly when and where the behavior is going to take place.

Here is what research says: write down your intention, and then SCHEDULE IT. The clarity here is key because the brain will always look for excuses to go back to old habits and postpone or ignore anything new, especially if it requires effort.

You are working against your brain, so to get these new habits to become a part of your routine, do not leave anything vague or open. Write it down and schedule it, because what you schedule clearly, you are far more likely to actually do.

People, if your habit is truly important to you, let your calendar reflect that. Put it on your schedule like you would an important business meeting.

4. Change One Thing in Your Environment

Your environment may manipulate your decision-making more than you think. For example, if you want to lose weight, decide on one change. Pick a smaller plate so you consume less food.
Do you keep missing gym sessions? Put your gym clothes right at the foot of your bed at night, sneakers and socks included.

Do you see where I am going with this? Forget self-control and make your life easier. Manipulate one thing in your environment that will condition you to succeed. Once you change that one thing in your environment, you’ll retrain your brain and create new and healthier habits.

5. Surround Yourself With Supporters

The people around us have a surprisingly big impact on our behavior. One study showed that if you have a friend who becomes obese, your risk of obesity increases by 57-percent — even if your friend lives hundreds of miles away!

Other research has shown that we tend to feel the same way, and adopt the same goals, as the people we spend the most time with. So, one way to dramatically increase your chances of success is to make sure you have the right people in your corner.

If you want to create healthy, winning habits but all your friends are unhealthy, it’s time to make some new friends. 

If you want to make big things happen in your life but you’re surrounded with pessimists who drag you down, it’s time to create a support group who inspires you and picks you back up when you fail.

You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so be selective about them.
When you take small steps to form new habits, you’ll be amazed at the success and accomplishments you’ll be able to enjoy. You can be proud of the many areas of your life. Your finances will improve; relationships will flourish and you’ll feel healthy and energetic.

Simple habits have the most impact, so don’t worry about making life-changing decisions overnight. Change is gradual and it happens through repeated motions that we eventually turn to habits.

What winning habits can help contribute to your success? What can you set as a goal for your day today?

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Dr. Michelle Rozen

Dr. Michelle Rozen, Ph.D., is a highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is one of the most booked motivational speakers nationwide as well as internationally, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN on topics related to dealing with change in our world and in every aspect of our lives, so that we can do better and feel better.

Her most recent book, 2 Second Decisions helps people power through with their most challenging decisions through turbulent times.

Dr. Michelle Rozen consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Pfizer, and The U.S. Navy. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Psychology and resides in the greater NYC area.

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