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Ok, so last week I used some of super useful Gretchen Rubin’s strategies from her Four Tendencies work to help our inner rebel find motivation and work towards goals and objectives without resistance (check out the blog here).

But I’ve also got a few tips of my own about how to create habits that stick and design routines that flow, rather than become a source of rebellion.  These are just for us rebels, when the more mainstream productivity tools don’t always work.

This week is all about habits.  Next week – the non-routine routine (let’s call it a rhythm!).

How to create habits that stick

So most of us (admittedly not all) do have some regular activities that have become habitual – that we do easily and without much thought or complaint.  Things like cleaning teeth, taking a shower/getting dressed, a dog walk, the school run, making dinner, turning the PC on and then making a coffee when getting to work, the Friday 11 am meeting. Whatever.

How we can transform the other tasks we want to achieve into something similar, and create habits that stick?

  • Try and identify as many of your ingrained habits as you can – things you do at pretty regular times in a pretty consistent way across your day or week.  (These will become part of your framework which we’ll come back to later.)
  • Use these regular, automated activities as your “anchors” for any new potential habits.  So when you have something in mind that you want to start doing, tag it onto something that’s already embedded in your routine.
  • Embrace “little and often” – it helps “sneak” tasks passed our rebellious, obstinate streak and then suddenly, it’s just something we do
  • Break any new goal down into tiny steps and anchor each one, not moving on until the first is automatic.  Slow and steady wins the race!
  • Approach this as an experiment, where you practice and play with lots of small attempts to see what works for you.  No right, or wrong – just gathering data and looking for clues
  • Try and add in some fun too to those things that might feel like a bit of a slog, and really feel into your big “why”, embodying why you want to do this (remember last week’s Strategy of Clarity and Identity).
  • And don’t just do this for grotty stuff.  Lock in the fun, fulfilling, nourishing activities too (which can still be tricky to make happen regularly).  It will help the rebel brain learn that some routines are great!

Mixing it up

The idea of “locking in” habits means that they move into the non-conscious zone and therefore become much easier to just do.  They just happen – no resistance, not much effort, no big deal (for rebels and non-rebels once you get them into that zone).

But the exact opposite can also be quite useful for us rebels – a random element – honouring our desire for spontaneity and freedom.

So if you have something super simple you’d like to do a few times a day or a week that doesn’t need much preparation (perhaps a stretch for your bad back, something from your new fitness goal, some mindful check-ins, even checking work emails so otherwise you’re free from the distraction), a random reminder might work well.

There’s a couple of useful apps out there for this.  Randomly Remind Me for Android or Yapp Reminders on Apple. Of course, you can skip them if it’s not convenient but it’s a way of reminding you without it becoming something you pre-empt, dread, avoid.


And one last thing.  To help with creating habits that stick, do remember to celebrate your wins (however small – there is no insignificant here!).

Notice when you’ve done something, feel how that feels in both your body and your mind, and give yourself a treat – it can be a moment sat in the sun, a stoke of the dog, a cup of tea, a couple of minutes away from your desk to look out of the window, a glance at a photo of your favourite place or person, a laugh with a colleague, even just an internal smile and a little feeling of “chuffed”.

This reinforces to your nervous system that this stuff is good, safe and works – and next time it’ll be so much easier to do.

If you’ve got rebel tendencies and you’re struggling with motivation, productivity, and creating habits that stick, then do check out last’s week blog and stay tuned for next week’s – all about creating routines that don’t feel like routines…

And if you you’ve got these issues but don’t identify as a rebel, then check out my procrastination blogs here and here.

Do get in touch if you’re getting nowhere with this on your own.  Helping quiet rebels and sensitive souls ditch the doubt, and take their place is exactly what I do.