How to Bring in a New Habit


“That goes together like Roasted Garlic Potatoes and Home Yoga Practice”

Said Nobody. Nobody but me I’m guessing.

This week as I finished a coaching call I knew I had several things to do: Practice Yoga, Plan for my Classes, and Do some batch cooking for myself. I felt a little resistant to my yoga practice so I decided to start with cooking up yummy Roasted Potatoes with Garlic. But then a funny thing happened. As I started down the stairs to go into the kitchen all I could imagine was practicing yoga with the smell of garlic in the air.

Let me back up. For several months I’ve carved out time on Tuesdays for a long yoga practice and for doing batch cooking. So, every time I’ve rolled out my mat on a Tuesday it has been to the smell of garlic and potatoes in the oven.

Apparently, I am like Pavlov’s dog, because the mere thought of roasting the potoates also brought excitement for my yoga practice. I have effectively trained myself into a healthy habit.

If you’ve ever tried to start a healthy habit or practice, you know it takes a little work. They don’t just start and get running smoothly without your intention and attention.

One of the tricks I teach my clients around starting new habits is to pair it with an old one. If there’s something you are already doing like clockwork in your day or week - see if you can add the new habit to the old. You’ve already established the basic mental groove that you need for getting something specific to happen at a specific time. Now all it takes is adding the next small thing. When you pair a new habit with an old habit it’s easier to remember to do the new one. And it can help you build the new one more quickly because the mental groove is already set.

The pairing does’t have to make sense at all. Potatoes and yoga don’t particularly make sense to me (other than the feeling of nourishment they bring). The main thing that helps it work is timing. Habit pairings work when you bring them together one after the other. That is true Pavlovian Classical Conditioning with us as the animals we’re training.

Bringing on a new habit, even one that is extremely good for you, can feel like a challenge. Try a little animal training on yourself by pairing the new with the old and see if you don’t get a little more success.

Are you ready to give it a try? I’d love to hear what new habit you are trying to start and how you will pair it with an old one. Leave a message in the comments below or shoot me an email at: Good Luck! I’m cheering for you!