Stages of Habit Development

As you consider your goals for the new year, be aware that our resolutions for new habits are like tadpoles. Frogs lay hundreds of eggs, resulting in countless little tadpoles, but most of these froglets don’t make it to adulthood. Similarly, few good intentions become habits.

The lifespan of a habit has four stages. Stage1 is the Resolution Phase. Typically, we grab hold of a change idea and declare our intention to act without giving our resolution any thought. This is a setup for failure. Instead, learn how to choose and incubate your hopes to protect them from the predators that otherwise pick off your good intentions.

Stage 2 is Preparation, where we transition our resolution from a thought to a behavior. Usually, we just declare our intention and spring into action, feeling passionate about the goal. Like a tadpole sprouting legs, our idea is on the move. But usually, this surge of action fizzles out when we get distracted or discouraged. As motivation wanes, old habits kick back in and resolve falters. To improve your resolution survival rate, prepare for success by setting up a nourishing and protective habitat for your new behavior.

Stage 3, the Sustained Action Phase, can be the most difficult to get through. But by using the Action-Ability Approach, you’ve prepared a nourishing ecosystem to strengthen your resolve and learned resolution first aid so that when your new behavior takes a hit, you will know how to patch it up and return to sustained action.

Once your resolution has fully matured, it’s on autopilot in Stage 4, the Habit Phase. You’ve done countless repetitions of your desired behavior during the Sustained Action Phase, which established new neural networks in your brain so your behavior happens with less effort and thought.

The saying goes: Knowledge is power. But here’s the truth: Knowledge is potential—implementation is power.  By harnessing the Action-Ability Approach, you will turn the potential of your ideas into lasting change. When you transform what you know into action, the power to live your best life is unleashed.

From Hope to Habit: Science-Based Solutions to Live Your Best Intentions

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