Habits Are the Foundation For Success in Health

Habits Are the Foundation For Success in Health

Sep 04, 2023

RoutinoutineTo create success, we all could benefit from creating routines and enacting behavioral strategies that use goals, strategies, and actions to establish these life-determining habits.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear describes ways to create and modify habits and uses habit stacking to create these systematized routines. This constant, persistent action toward your vision is more effective than goals, even SMART goals, because consistent behavior determines the direction and area in which we achieve success, including the goals and how long and well we live.

Systematized behavior and habits are the miracle prescription for long-term success. However, feeling the emotions of success helps establish good habits - and the reasons for resistance help with self-defeating behaviors.

There are six foundational components of health: sleep, food, light, movement, stress management, and relationships. Science proves repeatedly that when we improve these daily aspects of our lives, dramatic improvements in our health and well-being follow. The breakthroughs establishing healthy routines in these areas can bring are both immediate and long-term.

To truly change our health and well-being, along with life-saving medicine and technologies, we must focus on the strength of life-transforming habits within each of these foundational behaviors. While healthcare is episodic, the daily decisions we make in our routines—such as exercising, eating right, and not smoking—are what create true health. As Peter Attvia, M.D., says in Outlive: the Science & Art of Longevity, 2023, our life expectancy is determined by our habits more than access to healthcare. In other words, health is determined by your behavior over your lifetime.

Focusing on creating routines that support foundational behavioral strategies is fundamental to success (in various aspects of life, whether health, personal development, business endeavors, or any other pursuit.) Let's break down each component:

  1. Goals: Or your visualizations of success, provide the direction and purpose for your efforts. They define what you want to achieve and serve as a clear target to work towards. Effective goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). When setting goals, consider both short-term and long-term objectives. Whether your goals are related to personal growth, career advancement, health, or any other area, they should inspire and motivate you to take action.
  2. Strategy: A strategy outlines your plan or approach to achieve your goals. It's a deliberate and well-thought-out roadmap that guides your actions coherently and organized. A solid strategy takes into account the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) of your emotions, too. It also considers the available resources, the timeline for achieving your goals, and potential obstacles that might arise. Your strategy should align with your goals and help you both make informed decisions and troubleshoot emotional resistance.
  3. Action: Action involves putting your plans into motion. It's the practical implementation of your strategy to progress towards your goals. Taking consistent and purposeful action via routines (setting time every day, week, or period) is key to achieving success. Break down your steps to success into smaller, manageable steps and prioritize them based on their impact and feasibility. Regularly review your advancement and adjust your actions as needed. Overcoming procrastination and maintaining discipline - and troubleshooting resistance such as procrastination - are essential for effective action.

However, the founder and director of Stanford’s Behavior Design Lab, BJ Fogg, who has devoted much of his career to researching human psychology, motivation, and behavior. According to him, habit formation isn’t a product of simply doing something repeatedly. “It’s not a function of repetition,” he says, “it’s a function of emotion.”... "A behavior happens when three things come together at the same moment. One, there is motivation to do that behavior. Two, there's the ability to behave. And, three, there’s a prompt that says do this behavior now. And when all those things come together, the behavior happens." This aligns with Atomic Habits -- You have to have aligned emotions and feel your success to make something into a habit.

So, you help yourself do that by making sure there is motivation, ability, and a prompt- and Fogg says you must ensure you feel successful. That is an important skill. It’s that feeling, it’s that emotion of success that wires in habits. That’s what causes a behavior that you’re deliberating, or deciding, or thinking about to turn into a behavior you do without thinking or deciding. It turns it into a behavior you do pretty automatically. "It is emotions that create habits." The reward must be aligned, and then you can apply the process to applying habits as the action to achieve success:

  1. Visualize Success: Identify and define success using your mind's eye and a feeling of gratitude for having achieved it.
  2. Develop a Strategy: Create a strategy, planning backward from success to the current starting point. Map out the steps, resources, collaborations, and timeline needed to succeed. Consider potential challenges and how to overcome them. Ensure that you appreciate the journey.
  3. Take Consistent Action via Systematized Daily and Weekly Routines and Habits: Execute your strategy with regular and purposeful actions. Break down your strategy into actionable tasks and work on them consistently. Feel your success.
  4. Monitor and Adjust: Track your progress and assess whether you're moving towards your goals. ** If you face resistance, examine the emotions that are sabotaging you and making part of you do not do routine or habits. If needed, adjust your strategy or actions based on the feedback and results you're getting and figure out how to make the new habit instead of the wrong one feel good.
  5. Stay Motivated: Maintain your motivation by regularly reminding yourself of the importance of your goals. Celebrate small victories along the way to keep your enthusiasm high.

Remember that flexibility is essential. Circumstances may change, and you might need to adapt your strategy or modify your goals. The key is staying focused, adaptable, and working towards your aspirations.


Matt Abrahams, and BJ Fogg. 2023. “Building Habits: The Key to Lasting Behavior Change.” Stanford Graduate School of Business. April 18. https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/building-habits-key-lasting-behavior-change.

Jardine, Rob. 2018. “Your Habits Determine Your Chances of Success.” Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur South Africa. August 2. https://www.entrepreneur.com/en-za/growth-strategies/your-habits-determine-your-chances-of-success/328407.

Behavior Is a Miracle Drug for Our Health. (2023). Retrieved 4 September 2023, from https://time.com/6309926/behavior-is-a-miracle-drug-health/

Attvia, M.D., Peter Outlive: the Science & Art of Longevity, 2023, Harmony Books