The Best Way to Start a New Habit so that It Sticks

For months I had been giving myself A LOT of negative messages about not consistently working out. I had gotten off track after 6 weeks of illness and felt I didn’t have the time. As a health coach, I knew workaround strategies. From personal experience, I believed wholeheartedly that my body would yell THANK YOU once I established a routine.

Still, I couldn’t summon the motivation to just start. That changed after cleaning the house.

Procrasitnation and Momentum

While I was wishing I consistently worked out, I felt the familiar pangs of procrastination and guilt seep into my mind. I tend to overthink tasks when I’m stuck in the procrastination cycle:

  • A decision not to start
  • Worry about not starting
  • The expanded view of the task in my mind
  • Negative emotions becoming attached to the task

… and not surprisingly, no action. Can you relate?

My daughter and her boyfriend came to visit several months ago. Of course, I needed to clean the house. After two days of a deep clean, I noted that my body enjoyed the movement. It felt better. When I thought about it, it made complete sense. I know my body likes to walk.

The following day, my husband and I had plans with friends to visit a museum—another opportunity to walk. I realized I was on a roll and I needed to keep going. I had a sense of momentum that I knew I could leverage.

If I could weave more walking into my day, I could build upon the health and wellness benefits of greater movement. Would the momentum bridge the gap between my knowing what I should do and reality?

I wanted to capitalize on the momentum, not overthink what it would take to add more walking to my day and move forward (literally and figuratively) one step at a time.

Leveraging Momentum

So, I made a commitment to keep walking. I didn’t overthink it. I just decided to keep the momentum going. And, I made it simple.

I chose to walk in my neighborhood. Nothing easier than walking out your front door. I chose to focus on distance and not time because my mind seemed to like that better than the other way around.

In the past, I’ve believed that I needed to work out by noon, or it wouldn’t happen. Now that I work from home, I relaxed that rule and found that I can walk any time during the day and reap the same benefits.

I noticed pretty quickly that my energy increased because of the walking. Turns out I needed to spend some energy to get more of it instead of waiting until I had what I thought I needed. Another bonus: walking caused me to drink more water which increased my energy.

After a few weeks, I replaced my shoes as a reward and to keep the momentum going. After a few months, I got a great deal on fitness tops and leggings to keep the momentum going.

My motivational muscle increased in strength while I rode the momentum. Because of the benefits I’ve already experienced, I don’t need as much momentum. I now rely on walking as a stress reliever and mind clearer. Listening to music or a podcast makes me happy too 😊

Momentum paved the way to for my new workout to stick!

Where Can You Leverage Momentum?

One of the best ways to start a new habit is to build it on the back of momentum. Momentum that occurs naturally (like movement from cleaning the house) or some that you create yourself (like rewards).

Have you had success riding momentum to keep procrastination at bay? What caused the momentum and how did you ride it?

Can you leverage the memory of using momentum successfully today? What can you start, without overthinking what it would take, that would help you make small changes with ease that add up over time to create transformative change?

Join the Working Moms Who Thrive Facebook group to share with likeminded women how momentum could help you start a new habit that sticks.

Busy women who need to take better care of themselves

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Karen Clark Salinas

I’m Karen Clark Salinas, and it’s my mission to help women live their full purpose (work + family) without sacrificing wellbeing. I want to be the coach I wish I’d had when I was a working mom. Someone to help me get unstuck and live my life more intentionally. Marriage, motherhood, chronic illness, divorce, remarriage, and caring for aging loved ones contribute significantly to my story. I know for sure that, with my support, you can pursue your professional dreams while raising a happy and healthy family.