Flevy Blog is an online business magazine covering Business Strategies, Business Theories, & Business Stories.

Challenge Day 21: The Power of Habits

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Self-transformation Before Strategy of Startup (81-slide PowerPoint presentation). This guide is about Change Before Strategy (CBS). It is about sophistication and peak performance for startups. It is very useful to startups and entrepreneurs, but indeed to all private and government institutions supporting startup work, e.g. incubators, accelerators, hubs, technology [read more]

* * * *

Editor’s note: This is part of 30-day challenge series written by Hanane Anouna.   You can follow along and read the full series here.

* * * *

Have you ever struggled with forming a new habit or keeping your own habits? How many times you tried to go on diet and you gave up after few weeks if not few days? How many times have you tried to commit yourself to 20 minutes of reading and failed?

You may all have similar goals but maintaining the motivation is difficult.

Let me first define what a habit is all about and how it is formed.

What Is a Habit and How Is It Formed?

Habits are the choices we all make every day without even thinking about them. When we start a new goal, or try to learn new skill, the subconscious mind will be working nonstop to embrace it.

After repeating the task many times, the mental activity decreases as the subconscious mind knows exactly what to do and how to do it. After one week, it functions automatically without even thinking like in the example of driving or brushing your teeth; and then the mind does not have to think anymore what to do.

There are different approaches on how you can build a new habit. One of these approaches, which came from a 1960 self-help book by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, thinks that 21 days are enough to form a new habit. Other formulas considered that a new habit usually takes a little more than 2 months and as much as 254 days until it’s fully formed.

Tony Robbins came with the 21/90 rule, which requires a complete commitment to a goal during 21 straight days, and then it becomes a habit. If the habit is maintained another ninety days, then it becomes permanent lifestyles.

However, in the book “Tiny Habits, the small changes that change everything” habits can be formed very quickly in few days, as long as there is a strong positive emotion behind that habit.

The book was published in December 2019 by Dr. BJ Fogg, after twenty years of research on the subject and considers that the 21 day habit is a myth. According to him, emotions create habits and not frequency and repetition.

He even thinks that some habits can be created immediately depending on their emotional importance to the person: if you buy your first car, then the emotional response to using that car will create an instant habit.

Fogg’ approach resonates more with me even if I did not have to go through the whole process that he described in his book. I believe any change can be immediate when it has a great emotional significance to the person, or has to do with his reason to live.

How to Install a New Habit?

1. Find the reason behind the change

You will never start new habits only by reading this article or watching a motivational video as you have to find a reason behind it.  If going through diet is something that can save you from a serious health crisis, then the change will be obvious and automatic as it will be of a significance emotional experience to you. However, If the diet is something of a medium importance, then the reaction will be of a less intensity.

Ask yourself this: how will that habit help you achieve your goals? How it will improve your life or your relationships?

To make a change of behavior and start a new habit, one needs a great reason for that. Napoleon Hill in his book “think and grow rich”, talked about a burning desire as a first step to make any changes and improvement in your life. It is described as the first element to begin with, without which all your goals may remain unreachable.

2. Take baby steps

A goal is reachable only if you break it down into tiny actions, which can be installed on top of behaviors that are already part of your life. If you take a coffee break during a specific moment of the day, then you can add to it a new habit after taking your coffee.
According to him, when the goal has a great emotional significance, and working on it will make you feel good about it, then the good feeling will trigger the production of the neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain, which will increase the likelihood that you will repeat the same behavior in the future.

3. Make the celebration

The celebration should be done immediately after a new behavior, (or while you are doing the behavior) so that your brain can make that behavior an automatic habit in the future.
But once the habit is created, the celebration becomes optional. Here some suggested celebrations. You can pick up what fits you or find new one that can celebrate your feeling of success or accomplishment.  It can be one of these expressions:

+ Say, “Yes!” or “Yay!”
+ Do a fist pump
+ Smile big
+ Do a little dance
+ Clap your hands
+ Give yourself a thumbs-up
+ Think to yourself, Good job
+ Take a deep breath
+ Look up and make a V with your arms
+ Tell yourself, I got this

If you would like to change your life, start by changing your habits as they can tell a lot about your destination.

To build good new habits, you will need a great reason worth going through.

It will take time. It will need dedication. It will require sacrifice.

You will be tempted. You may fail. You may choose to rise again. You will learn. You may fail again. You will be judged and even rejected. It will need your patience. You will start approaching great results.

Your habits will be part of your nature and discipline will find no way to go away. It will be You, the new version of your inner you. Congratulations. You have achieved your goals.

50-slide PowerPoint presentation
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Framework & Diagram Contents : 1. Be Proactive 2. Begin with the End in Mind 3. Put First Things First 4. Think Win-Win 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood 6. Synergize 7. Sharpen the Saw That's where the seven habits of highly [read more]

Do You Want to Implement Business Best Practices?

You can download in-depth presentations on Self Improvement and 100s of management topics from the FlevyPro Library. FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.

For even more best practices available on Flevy, have a look at our top 100 lists:

These best practices are of the same as those leveraged by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by utilizing these best practice frameworks, templates, and tools. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with over 20+ years of experience.

Readers of This Article Are Interested in These Resources

64-slide PowerPoint presentation
Self-leadership puts together taking responsibility for our outcomes, setting direction for our lives, and having tools to manage priorities. Self-leaders work at all levels of an organization. They are front-line workers in every possible role, middle managers, and CEOs. Self-leaders like Walt [read more]

Excel workbook
2-page Word document

About Hanane Anoua

Based in Morocco, Hanane Anoua is a certified life and executive coach, mentor, entrepreneur, and passionate writer with more than 13 years of professional experience. You can connect with Hanane on LinkedIn here.

Complimentary Business Training Guides

Many companies develop robust strategies, but struggle with operationalizing their strategies into implementable steps. This presentation from flevy introduces 12 powerful business frameworks spanning both Strategy Development and Strategy Execution. [Learn more]

  This 48-page whitepaper, authored by consultancy Envisioning, provides the frameworks, tools, and insights needed to manage serious Change—under the backdrop of the business lifecycle. These lifecycle stages are each marked by distinct attributes, challenges, and behaviors. [Learn more]

We've developed a very comprehensive collection of Strategy & Transformation PowerPoint templates for you to use in your own business presentations, spanning topics from Growth Strategy to Brand Development to Innovation to Customer Experience to Strategic Management. [Learn more]

  We have compiled a collection of 10 Lean Six Sigma templates (Excel) and Operational Excellence guides (PowerPoint) by a multitude of LSS experts. These tools cover topics including 8 Disciplines (8D), 5 Why's, 7 Wastes, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), and DMAIC. [Learn more]
Recent Articles by Corporate Function






The Flevy Business Blog (https://flevy.com/blog) is a leading source of information on business strategies, business theories, and business stories. Most of our articles are authored by management consultants and industry executives with over 20 years of experience.

Flevy (https://flevy.com) is the marketplace for business best practices, such as management frameworks, presentation templates, and financial models. Our best practice documents are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier consulting firms (like McKinsey, Bain, Accenture, BCG, and Deloitte) and used by Fortune 100 organizations. Learn more about Flevy here.

Connect with Flevy:


About Flevy.com   /   Terms   /   Privacy Policy
© . Flevy LLC. All Rights Reserved.