Dec 5, 2023

Steps to Build and Maintain Successful Habits


How to build new habits and be happier

Building and maintaining habits is crucial for personal growth and self-improvement. Habits have the power to shape our lives and determine our success. While it is often said that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days for it to stick, the reality is that the process is more complex and requires careful planning and consistent effort. In this article, we will explore the key stages of habit-building and provide practical tips to help you establish and maintain successful habits.

Stage 0: Commitment and Mental Preparation

Before diving into a new habit, it is important to mentally prepare yourself and make a commitment to change. One effective way to do this is by establishing a ritual of starting. This involves declaring your intention to make a specific change, both to yourself and to those around you. By doing so, you create an invisible "flag" that serves as a reminder and holds you accountable. Additionally, sharing your goals with others can provide a support system and external motivation.

Another crucial aspect of stage 0 is identifying the reason behind the change. Your initial motivation should stem from a place of love and passion, rather than self-punishment. Understanding what drives you to make the change and aligning it with your values will increase the chances of long-term success. Take the time to reflect on your desires and aspirations, and let them guide your habit formation journey.

Stage 0-1: Setting Clear Goals and Actionable Plans

Once you have made the commitment to change, it is essential to set clear goals and develop actionable plans. Your goals should be both ambitious and attainable, providing a sense of direction and purpose. For example, if your goal is to "eat healthily," you can break it down into smaller, measurable tasks such as "reduce eating out by half and double vegetable intake in the first month." This allows you to track your progress and celebrate small victories along the way.

To support your goals, it is helpful to utilize tools that can assist you in tracking your habits. One such tool is TickTick, which offers a Habit feature that allows you to customize your habits, set frequencies, and add motivational quotes. By using a habit-tracking tool, you can streamline the process and stay organized, increasing your chances of success.

Stage 0-1: Visualize the Process, Not Just the Results

A common mistake people make when forming new habits is focusing too much on the end result. While it is important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, it is equally important to visualize the process of getting there. Instead of fantasizing about fluently speaking a new language, imagine the daily practice sessions and the progress you will make over time. By shifting your focus to the actions required, you can take practical steps towards your goals.

Stage 0-1: Check-In and Reflect on Your Progress

To make your habit-building journey more structured and reflectable, it is beneficial to regularly check in on your habits and track your behavioral path. Tools like TickTick offer features such as Habit Log and Habit Statistics, which allow you to record your activities, track your progress, and gain insights for reflection. By keeping a record of what you have done and how you felt, you can identify patterns and make adjustments as needed. Reflecting on your successes and areas for improvement is crucial for growth and long-term habit maintenance.

Stage 0-1: Embrace Flexibility and Eliminate Guilt

In the process of building habits, it is important to acknowledge that there will be ups and downs. No one is perfect, and it is unrealistic to expect yourself to never miss a check-in or falter along the way. Instead of feeling guilty about occasional slip-ups, allow yourself the flexibility to adapt and learn from setbacks. In TickTick, you can mark a habit as "unachieved" without guilt. Remember, balance and consistency are key, and self-compassion is essential for maintaining a positive mindset.

Stage 1-100: The Power of Accountability

As you progress in your habit-building journey, the support of others can be instrumental in maintaining your momentum. Consider finding a buddy who shares your goals or someone who can serve as a role model. A buddy can provide motivation and accountability, making the process more enjoyable and less daunting. Alternatively, a role model can inspire you to push through challenges and strive for excellence. Surrounding yourself with people who uplift and encourage you increases your chances of long-term habit success.

Stage 1-100: Enhancing Extrinsic Motivation

While intrinsic motivation, driven by your passion and love for the habit, is crucial, extrinsic motivation can provide an additional boost. One effective way to enhance extrinsic motivation is by associating rewards with your habit. Celebrate small milestones with instant rewards, such as treating yourself to something you enjoy. For significant progress, plan future rewards that will motivate you to keep going. By combining intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, you create a powerful force that propels you towards habit mastery.

Stage 1-100: Avoid Rushing and Embrace Baby Steps

The journey to habit mastery is a marathon, not a sprint. It is important to avoid rushing the process and trying to achieve overnight transformations. Consistency and stickiness are key to long-term habit success. Take small, manageable steps and gradually increase the intensity or complexity of your habit. By allowing yourself the time to adapt and integrate the habit into your lifestyle, you increase the chances of it becoming a permanent part of your routine.


Building and maintaining successful habits requires commitment, planning, and perseverance. By following the stages outlined in this article and utilizing tools like TickTick, you can increase your chances of habit success.

Remember to set clear goals, visualize the process, track your progress, embrace flexibility, and seek support when needed. With determination and a growth mindset, you can unlock your potential and cultivate positive habits that will transform your life. Start your habit-building journey today and embrace the power of consistent action.