The Huddle: Creating Positive New Habits That Stick

The Handbook
By Alice Olins | 3rd October 2022
the huddle

Every month Alice Olins, founder of The Step Up Club, will be sharing her expert advice and experience to support you at work – you can read her first column here. It doesn’t matter what you do, which stage you are at or whether you’re employed or run your own business, Alice is here to help. In this week’s Huddle, she talks us through ways to feel more motivated and positive about work and to finally ditch the bad habits that could be holding you back. Feeling uninspired in your career? These nine podcasts will give you ideas for your next job move.

My husband’s morning glass of water could change your life. That is a bold and seemingly incongruous statement to make so let me roll back. A few months ago, my sport-loving husband was constantly lethargic. His lethargy played out in low mood, irritability and all of the negative behaviours that can send a bustling household of five over the edge. Something had to change. And that something turned out to be his hydration. He wasn’t drinking enough and it wasn’t serving him – or me. 

Today, I am proud to say that he starts everyday with a full glass, and pedals off to work with a bottle attached to the frame of his bike. How did we get here? Through small, incremental changes that have resulted in a positive new habit that’s firmly stuck – and making us all happier in the process.

As author of the brilliant Atomic Habits, James Clear puts it, “The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow.”

Why did I share our family hydration story? Because if we break down Mr Step Up Club’s process of change it reveals a classic habit forming formula that you can apply to any area of your life.

Motivation + Trigger + Consistency = New Habit

(New Habit = Motivation + Progress + Confidence + Health + Happiness + New Opportunities + Positive Effects…..)  

  • Your new habit might be becoming a more active networker.
  • Your new habit might be going for a run twice a week. 
  • Your new habit might be asking a question in every board meeting.

Your new habit is just that, it’s yours. Yes you need to show it some love and attention but it will pay you back in all sorts of glorious, life-affirming ways. For my husband, he doesn’t just have a happier spouse, he’s sleeping better, his skin looks fresher and his headaches have gone; all from one glass of water in the morning, and remembering to pack his bottle before he leaves. 

Now onto you. 

Your Motivation: Before you even start to commit to your new habit, carve out the time to get clear on why this new action will benefit your life. More effective networking will inevitably lead to more opportunities, if that’s your end goal. Your twice-weekly run will get you fitter and likely feeling less overwhelmed too. Many people think they lack motivation when what they actually lack is clarity: so first ask yourself, what’s my driver? And always keep that in mind. 

Your Triggers: Make your habit as easy to fit into your daily life as possible. Habit stacking is a great way to ensure your new habit doesn’t get lost in the busyness of life. If you already upload a weekly LinkedIn post, then stack one networking email onto the end. You can also use time and location as trigger cues. Research says that those of us who make a specific plan for when and where we will perform our new habit, are much more likely to entrench it into their daily lives (and feel all of those positive outcomes in the process). Fill in this simple sentence: “I will (insert behaviour) at (time) in (location)”. 

Your Consistency: This one needs very little explanation. Habits aren’t great, huge actions that happen in isolation. New jobs come about, promotions are won, mental health is restored as a result of small, positive, and crucially, repeated actions. And yes, warning, after about 6 weeks of committing to your new habit you’ll likely fall into what Clear describes as the Valley Of Disappointment, where you aren’t yet feeling or seeing any benefits.This is when most people fall off the bandwagon. If you need to, reaffirm your Motivation and Your Triggers, and stick with it. Your tipping point of change is just around the corner. 

Remember, one habit really can change everything. This one key habit might feel small and inconsequential at the start, but it will cause a positive ripple effect and in turn bring change into other areas of your life too. You don’t have to start big with new habits, you just need to start with the right one. 

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