Implementing a New Habit

While I’m blending ghee and C8 MCT oil into my coffee in the morning, I like to do 1 set of 30 standing calf raises. And as I prepare a second cup of coffee for later on in the day, I do a second set of 30 calf raises. While on my way to work, I use a hand grip strengthener and do 3 sets of 15 each hand as I wait for the traffic lights to turn green. These are two examples of how we can integrate new habits with what we are already doing regularly. Implementing a new habit can then become a painless process.

Implementation Intention

“Implementation intention” is described by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, as “a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act. That is, how you intend to implement a particular habit.” Just stating that we want to exercise more or read more, for instance, is not enough. We have to concretely plan ahead when and where we can start the given new habit based on our schedule. Depending on what we want to implement into our routine, certain times of the day may be more suitable than others. It’s all about “clarity” and being determined with mapping out how we want to reach our goal.

 James Clear gives a few examples such as:

  • Meditation. I will meditate for one minute at 7 a.m. in my kitchen. (Starting small is okay, as mentioned in One Simple Way to Build a New Habit for Good).
  • Studying. I will study Spanish for twenty minutes at 6 p.m. in my bedroom.
  • Exercise. I will exercise for one hour at 5 p.m. in my local gym.

Habit Stacking

What Clear calls “habit stacking” is one form of implementation intention created by Standford professor BJ Fogg. In this case, instead of focusing on the time and location for the new habit to be carried out, you just want to “pair” the new habit with another already built behavior. This might even be easier as the time and location have already been decided for the established habit. Clear gives a few examples like:

  • Meditation. After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.
  • Exercise. After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.
  • Gratitude. After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.

You can then build more habits on top of the two first ones, or insert a new habit in between two already established behaviors, for instance. The choice is yours. This strategy leads to a great number of options to map out everything that you want to get done every day.

In Summary

Starting a new habit to reach a specific goal can be done with ease. Planning ahead and being consistent is necessary, but not much more than that is needed. Commander Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL, said, “Consistency is the omnipotent force behind change.” One new habit at a time, one step at a time.

Until next time!


Clear, James. Atomic Habits : Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results : An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York, Avery, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House, 2018, pp. 69–79.

Divine, Mark. Unbeatable Mind : Forging Mental Toughness. United States, Mark Divine, United States, 2015, p. 14.

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Be Patient with Yourself

Have you ever decided to start a new exercise regimen just to see the whole thing fall apart just a few days after? Oftentimes we want to take on way too much, way too soon. It is normal that when we want to start something new we are excited about it, and therefore we want to make a big change right away. But building new habits and getting rid of old ones is a process that takes time. As mentioned in a previous post, author Dr. Kyra Bobinet explains in her book, Well Designed Life, “As the new behavior is practiced more and more, the neural connections underlying that behavior get stronger and stronger. It is like wearing a rough footpath through repeated use, and then once established, paving that road (i.e., adding myelin to neural networks) to make it faster. Eventually there are two neural pathways that are of equal strength—the old habit and the new one—and you can imagine two highways that you could choose from. When we hit this point, the new behavior is as good an option (and equally likely to occur) as the old default behavior.” Building a new habit requires patience, dedication, and consistency.

The “Two-Minute Rule”

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear mentions the Two-Minute Rule, which means: “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” By starting something new that takes only a couple of minutes, there is very little chance of failing. James Clear gives five examples:

  • “Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
  • “Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat.”
  • “Study for class” becomes “Open my notes.”
  • “Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of socks.”
  • “Run three miles” becomes “Tie my running shoes.”

James Clear adds that “The point is to master the habit of showing up.” Of course you want to end up building on those two minutes. But if it is really just two minutes at first, that’s fine too. For example, if you want to start meditating, meditating for two minutes is an okay start. The new habit that you want to implement should not feel like a challenge.

In Summary

To build a new habit for good, you want to take steps that are easy to implement on a regular basis. As explained in Atomic Habits, opening your notes can lead to studying for ten minutes, to maybe studying for three hours, to getting better grades, to getting your degree. Doing a few stretches throughout the day, as I do, even if you don’t have the time for a complete workout, is just enough to keep strengthening the right mindset. You are building a new habit, but also a new identity, the one of someone who keeps showing up. It’s all about taking small steps easy for you to repeat every day. Once the habit is established, you can build on this new foundation and reinforce it even more for the better!

Until next time!


Bobinet, Kyra. Well Designed Life : 10 Lessons in Brain Science & Design Thinking for a Mindful, Healthy, & Purposeful Life. Walnut Creek, California, Engagedin Press, 2015, pp. 295–96.

Clear, James. Atomic Habits : Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results : An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York, Avery, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House, 2018, pp. 162–67.

You can also find me on Instagram.