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From Jackie with love: Creating habits that stick

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By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

As a holistic health coach, I’m always studying methods on how to make habits stick. The overarching themes that experts in this field recommend are: ask the right questions, get to your why, repetition is key, set yourself up for success by creating manageable small steps along the way, and find accountability partners.

If you’re interested in creating habits that stick, here’s a worksheet that’s a blend of the lessons I’ve learned over the years. Get out a pen and paper and let’s nail this down.

1. What’s the one new habit you want to form? If you feel like there are many, list them all and choose the one that is most important or most manageable for you to start today.

2. Why is it important for you to start this habit now? In order to help us get to the root cause of why this is important—which in turn motivates you to get started and keep going—we’re going to use the “Five Whys.” You’ll take your previous response and build upon it until you’ve identified a root cause five layers deep.

Here’s an example:
If the desired habit is to drink more water each morning, you’re “whys” might be: This is important for me to start today because it helps me stay hydrated. Better hydration is important because it boosts my energy and improves digestion. This is important because it helps me be more productive. Productivity is important because it helps me earn a better living. Earning a good living is important because it increases feelings of safety, stability and freedom.

Now I’ve gotten to the root cause of why drinking more water is important to me; it helps me increase my feelings of safety, stability and freedom. That’s good incentive!

3. What’s one small step that you can do today, and continue repeating everyday, that will help you form this habit? Repetition is key. It’s how habits are formed. Be careful not to set yourself up to fail by making it too big of a commitment that you won’t actually complete or that you’re averse to doing. It shouldn’t create a negative emotional response. If it does, make it even smaller or change it. For me, it means leaving a little reminder near the French press to take a few sips of water before drinking my morning coffee.

4. Layer your accountability. Having accountability partners is key. The more “layers” of accountability you create, the more likely you are to reach your goal. Make a list of your accountability partners. I’ve shared my intention with my husband, a corporate group I do monthly health talks with, and now you.

If you did list more than one habit, consider deciding not to tackle a new one until the first new habit’s become engrained. If you’re finding it challenging, try different approaches before throwing in the towel. Use your learning experience from this first round to build onto the next habit.

Please let me know how it goes.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, culture consultant
and public speaker. For a complimentary health consultation, reach her at

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