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  • Writer's pictureJustin Tilghman, Ph.D.

The Power of Habits: Changing Your Life One Step At A Time

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Ever thought about the little things you do every day? You know, the ones that seem so small, almost like they don’t count? Well, these repetitive actions, both big and small, shape our lives in ways we sometimes fail to recognize.

The key to significant transformation actually doesn't lie in grand, sweeping changes but in small, consistent habits. We don’t have to move mountains to make changes; sometimes, planting small seeds is all it takes.

This week, I want to explore the transformative power of small habits and how they can be a game-changer in your personal development journey.

The Science

Habits, as Charles Duhigg explains in "The Power of Habit," operate on a three-step loop: the cue, the routine, and the reward. This loop, once established, becomes automatic, forming a habit.

Research backs this up and highlights the improtance of consistency in developing and sustaining this three-step loop. A study in the British Journal of Healthy Psychology found that it takes around 60 days for a new behavior to become a habit.

The Magic of Small Habits

Now, you might be thinking, "Can small habits really make that big of a difference in my life?" The answer lies in the principle of marginal gains. This principle suggests that small, consistent improvements day by day can lead to significant changes over time. It's a lot like compound interest.

James Clear, in his book "Atomic Habits," illustrates this principle when he proposes that improving by just 1% each day can lead to being 37 times better by the end of the year!! That's the magic of small habits. They may seem insignificant initially, but their cumulative effect can be monumental.

A Practical Example

Let's take a practical example to illustrate what I"m talking about. Suppose you want to develop a reading habit. Instead of setting a lofty goal like reading a book a week, start small. Commit to reading just one page a day. This smaller step is easy to achieve and doesn't require a significant time commitment. Since it's smaller, it lends itself to consistency. And remember, consistency is the magic!

As you consistently read one page a day, you'll start to establish a reading habit. Over time, you can gradually increase the number of pages you read daily. Before you know it, you'll be reading more books than you ever thought possible. That is the power of starting small and being consistent.

Strategies for Successful Habit Formation

So, how can you get started? Well, here are some strategies to help you create successful habits:

Start Small: Choose a habit that's so easy you can't say no. The aim is to make the habit automatic before you focus on increasing its intensity.

Be Consistent: Consistency is crucial in habit formation and will make or break your habit building. It's better to do less but consistently than to do a lot inconsistently.

Stack Your Habits: Link a new habit with a current habit. This can make it easier to remember and practice the new habit.

Plan for Obstacles: Identify potential challenges and plan for them in advance. This can help you stay on track when you face difficulties.

Final Thoughts

In the quest for personal growth, small habits can be powerful agents of change. They may seem insignificant when you look at them individually, but their compounding effect can lead to significant transformations in your life. So, start small, be consistent, and witness the transformative power of habits in your life.

In Episode 16 of The Balanced Life Podcast, I talk with my friend Michal Stawicki about the power of habits. Give it a listen!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

If you're looking for personalized guidance on building new habits into your life, consider signing up for one-on-one coaching with me. I can support you with the tools, strategies, and support you need to successfully form new habits and see significant transformation and forward momentum in your life. Schedule your first call here!

Justin is a Board Certified Advanced Life Coach with the Board of Christian Life Coaching, a division of the International Board of Christian Care and the American Association of Christian Counselors. He has demonstrated knowledge and application of biblical integration in coaching, the ICCA and ICF Core Competencies, the Code of Ethics, and the ICF definition of coaching.


Justin is a Board Certified Master Mental Health Coach with the Board of Mental Health Coaching, a division of the International Board of Christian Care and the American Association of Christian Counselors. He has demonstrated knowledge and application of biblical integration in providing ethical and competent mental health coaching.

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