The 3-Step Formula to Build Successful Habits

As I’ve said countless times before, “Success leaves clues.” This means that if you want to be successful, then you simply have to look at what successful people have done before you. All successful people have successful habits - habits that they have created and refined over time because they helped them to reach their goals. Learning how to develop a habit can be as simple as observing others who are already successful.

Study the habits of successful people, and then ask yourself which of their habits would help you to reach YOUR goals.

Once you have that list, then it’s time to actively work on building those habits and making them a consistent part of your daily life.

Now what I’m about to tell you is a step-by-step method to help you create better habits.

It works because it’s simple. You don’t need complicated strategies. This template can be applied to any area of your life: business or personal. If applied consistently, it will help you achieve everything you want.

Learning how to develop a habit involves three fundamental steps:

1) Clearly Identify Your Bad or Unproductive Habits

It’s important that you really think about the future consequences of your bad habits.

These may not show up tomorrow, next week, or next month. The real impact could be years away. And when you look at your unproductive behavior one day at a time, it may not look so bad. The smoker says, “What’s a few cigarettes today? It helps me relax. I’m not wheezing and coughing.” However, the days accumulate and twenty years later in the doctor’s office, the X-rays are conclusive.

Consider this: If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day for 20 years, that’s 73,000 cigarettes. Do you think 73,000 cigarettes could have an impact on your lungs? Of course!

In fact, the consequences can be deadly. So, when you examine your own bad habits, consider the long-term implications. Be totally honest with yourself. Your life may be at stake.

2) Define Your New, Successful Habits

Usually, this is just the opposite of your bad habits.

In the smoker’s example, it would be, “Stop smoking.”

When defining your new habit, what are you actually going to do? To motivate yourself, think about all the benefits and rewards of adopting your new successful habit. This helps you create a clear picture of what this new habit will do for you. The more vividly you describe the benefits, the more likely you are to take action.

3) Create an Action Plan

This is where the rubber meets the road and it's a crucial step for those who want to be successful

In the smoking example there are several options:

  • Read how-to-stop-smoking literature.
  • Start hypnosis therapy.
  • Substitute something else when the desire for a cigarette arises.
  • Place a bet with a friend to keep you accountable.
  • Start a fresh air exercise program.
  • Use a nicotine patch treatment.
  • Stay away from other smokers.

When learning how to develop a new habit, the important thing is to make a decision about which specific actions you are going to implement and then you must take action.

Start with just one habit that you really want to change in any area of your life. Focus on your three immediate action steps and put them into practice. Remember, nothing will change until you do.

Now, here’s your homework.

Write down one unproductive habit you’d like to change, as well as the new one you’d like to create. Then, create your 3-step action plan, in writing, of how you’re going to take action to create this new habit. Give yourself a check-in date of when you’ll assess your progress to see how far you’ve come on creating this habit.

One of my favorite habits is practicing a daily meditation to stay grounded and clear-minded. If you'd like to replace a bad habit with this great one, you can learn how to meditate here.

To hold yourself accountable, leave a comment below with the bad habit you’re going to change and the one you’re going to replace it with. I’ll follow up with you to make sure you’re staying on track!

Get My Daily Affirmations for Success: A Step-By-Step Guide

Discover how you can use affirmations to re-create your self-image, replace your limiting beliefs, and achieve success. In this guide, I will teach you about the importance of daily affirmations, why they're critical to your success, and how to implement them in your life for rapid and positive changes. Click the graphic below to get this free daily affirmations guide.




You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul® and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: 

  • Cindy Anderson

    Probably my worst habit that would influence everything else -- DON'T SLEEP IN! I don't have to work until 11:30am, so I'll loll around in bed too long and too often. When I get up at at 'em at 7:30am, the days go SO much better! My goal: Wake up -- and get up -- by 7:30am every weekday. Incentive rewards: Get up and simply read (a pleasure and easy entrance to the day), phone a friend to chat, and meditate longer and more effectively. I will do this for two weeks and will track in my calendar and mark what I did to seize the day (I'm mostly looking for time to exercise and clean, but will think of more FUN things to get me started 🙂 THANKS, JACK!

    • You're welcome, Cindy. Oversleeping and sleeping in used to be a bad habit for me too. I took actions similar to the ones you listed above to get myself in a better routine, and it changed my life. I'm excited for this to happen for you, as well. You can do it!

  • Lilit Amirshadyan

    My unproductive habit is- I distrust I will be successful in my business
    My productive habit is- I am sure I will be successful in my business
    My action plan -read or listen books/audiobooks about success
    take part in special programs about success
    Successfuly over the programs where I have already registered
    Create affirmation I am successful in my business and repeat it every day
    Do meditation HOLOSINC

    • You're welcome, Lilit. Those sound like excellent action steps to get yourself on track. Remember, you become what you think about most of the time. Feed your mind with daily positive affirmations about your business, and you will see an incredible transformation.

      • Lilit Amirshadyan

        Thank you, Jack! I'll do my best to be there where I desire to be !!!

  • Mark Green

    Help my son more with homework. Habit of doing my stuff when I could do mine plus help. The new habit is to create this environment from now until he leaves high school.

    Write down a time that I will help.
    Communicate that to him.
    Work together on at least one paper a week.
    Praise him for coming to me

    • That's great, Mark. This sounds like something that both you and your son will greatly benefit from.

  • TammyQ

    One thing I really want to change is to get out of bed at 7:30 and to have gotten dressed, washed face, combed hair, pretty face, and walked my dog by 8:30 AM. (I also want to complete action items for my day before bed.) I know this will kick start my day so much better!! I will do this for the next 7 days and check-in on 10-11-2016 (Wed). Three things I am going to do: 1-Buy the book "Miracle Morning" today. 2-Get up (STAND UP) at 7:30 AM tomorrow morning, even if I get to bed late tonight. 3-Watch the video by Hal Elrod about Miracle Morning today. I will keep a daily journal and check-in again on 10//11/2016 (Next Wed.) THANK YOU JACK CANFIELD !!

    • Good for you, Tammy! Looking forward to hearing how this new start goes for you. Keep us updated 🙂

      • TammyQ

        Thanks Jack! I will!!

    • Cindy Anderson

      THANKS FOR THE REFERENCE! I need that "Miracle Morning" too!!!

      • TammyQ

        You're welcome, Cindy! It is pretty amazing! You can even find several videos of Hal Elrod on YouTube. I am so glad I made myself get the 90 day workbook and made myself watch the video lastnight. I am already doing a little better so far today.

        Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  • Tania Brasfield

    Thanks Jack!

    So my bad habit is ... (it's a BIG one) PROCRASTINATION!
    I intend on replacing it with the habit of taking overwhelming or daunting projects and first breaking them way down into tiny, less scary tasks and then getting busy checking those tasks off my "to do" list!

    • TammyQ

      I relate so directly to this too!! I love your idea about replacing it with taking on tasks by breaking them down into "TINY", less "SCARY", tasks. Great plan! I will be implementing this as well.

      Go Tania! 🙂

  • William K Pratt

    My habit that no longer serves me is lacking self confidence when I share my vision of becoming a transformational coach with others. I do this because I have a fear of judgement what others will think of my vision, I don't want them to step on my dream.

    I realize that this has been sending the wrong message to the universe and I need to express my vision clearly and confidently when communicating with myself and others.

    My game plan is to write out my reasons WHY I want to be a transformational coach, then practice it in the mirror and with my family until it flows easily and confidently then share it with everyone who asks me what I do.

    • Patty Aubery

      Hi William, Check out our Online Certification that teaches you how to be the best trainer you can be! Go to Jack Canfield.Com and check out Jack Canfields Train the Trainer Online Program. It has helped thousands build the confidence they need to be your best self! People are loving it! Good luck, I get it, I was right there with you prior to creating this program.:) Let me know if you have any questions!

    • There are few activities more rewarding than creating a vision board with the person you love. Great work, William.

  • Dandy Ligutan

    I have read your 30 Day Sobriety Solutions book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Thank you Jack for unstoppable workshop and lesson you provide for us.

    Now, I created a good habit, which is Meditating and Gratitude Habit, and I'm still creating a good habit and eliminating the bad one. I'm so blessed and grateful to know you Jack. God bless you.

  • Frederick Grothe

    I have a bad habit of having a cluttered desk. I will take the clutter and delegate it to the appropriate people in my office. I will maintain a clean work space for the next 6 business days and evaluate my progress on October 14th by 9:00am.

    • I like to set a reminder on my calendar to clear off my work area. It has worked very well for me in the past!

  • Jen

    Ohhhhh!! Procrastination and an addiction to distractions!🍀

  • Partha Sinha

    I have a bad habit of low self esteem and the eternal thought of probable failure at work. I want to change it forever. Although I have motivated many of my students but I cannot conquer my own demons!

    • You aren't alone in that struggle, Partha. My advice: talk to yourself the way you talk to your students. Give it a try, and see if it helps.

  • Azisha Nesan

    I have toxic thoughts and limiting beliefs that prevent me to take action and make life better. Over the past 20 years have been sabotaged and kept captive by these. I will use Visualisation, Affirmations, Tapping & Meditation to replace with empowering thoughts and beliefs. 3 Part action plan is accountability partner, engage with successful uplifting social interactions and create 5 Actions daily to take me closer to a healthier peaceful cleansed version of me. By Oct 26,2016 9pm will be a new me!

  • TammyQ

    So today is the day I am checking in after 6 days of getting up (STANDING UP) at 7:30 AM without fail - no more snoozing. I then wash my face and get dressed, feed my dog, and walk before 8:30 AM. It is going well. I am really pleased that I have been dedicated to doing this each morning. However, I am starting to discover that 7:30 may not be early enough. I can't believe I am typing this because I am NOT a morning person. But in order for me to have the visualization time, prioritizing tasks, and reading that I want to get in before 8:30, I will need to wake up at 7:00. So for the next 6 days, even though I am going on vacation, I am going to set the alarm for 7:00 AM and check in next Wed 10/19 to tell how it is going.
    Thanks again Jack for all your help!

    • Congratulations, Tammy! The fact that you are already setting another new goal and setting new challenges for yourself is very impressive! Now that you know the feeling of accomplishing a seemingly impossible goal, the possibilities are endless. Keep it up 🙂

  • Kyle - I watched the video, and I agree with most everything Jaret said. The early bird does, in fact, get the worm. Thank you very much for passing that along!

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  • Jyo Pooja

    I am so blessed my friend helped me incompletingmy tainining fom your notes. he gave it to me all as I am working for many challeneged children and empowering women. people say I have lot of patience I completed higest education and your trainings I am using my education to guide many I am now planningto make money too, I always smile jovial but a strange bad habit is that I get anger not short tempered the anger that bursts out when people behave in a hypocrtic way, may be I expect same love and affection I respect money but he anger is not for money I get anger when people or my family don't go with disciplined acts waste lot of time and keep things in pending, but before I say or present myself to tell them that lot of time and money is wasted anger bursts out andi never feel like talking to them and I know end of the I need to do al the work myself...I only try tell that to be open clear but why still people behave in hypocritic way ..this thought of mine irritates me take me into Anger I shout at them ...truly the more I try the more I get vengeance fortunate thing is that I get this anger rarely once in 6 or one year.
    the other side people call me love bank ...when get this anger I don't talk to anyone for some days...after taking the training I tried to show up my anger in just witting in my note book writing the reasons and visualized things wen well and aree moving in a harmonious way ..still practicing.
    my dream to meet you Mr.Jack as a social worker I transformed 6 suicidal cass and one alcoholic patient . now I am designing to gve the Successful principles to small Business people. I am waiting for my Certificate course to take TTT certificate when I make huge amounts form your trainings given by my Friend from Canada.I thank him and every minute I read these Principles practicing to apply in my life .Universe blessed With a Great Man like you and making me your trainee.