How to Break Bad Habits and Make Good Habits

He who lives without discipline dies without honor.
-Icelandic Proverb
We all have bad habits. For the last several days, Julie and I have been focusing on nutrition and following the 80-20 principle (80% of our meals are for fuel and 20% are for pleasure). We made a healthy meal that consisted of marinated chicken and vegetables, and by 9:15pm that evening, I snuck into the kitchen for a coffee cream ice cream sandwich. Our goal has been to not eat past 8:00pm and my snack that night made me realize how tough it is to break bad habits.

New habits energize my life and those of my clients. I’m beginning again… a fresh start! 

When you want to make or break a habit, do the following:
1. Begin by choosing one area to focus on at a time
Examples: Procrastination, alcohol consumption, exercise, smart-phone use, etc.
2. Take one day at a time and try to avoid thinking about long-term results
3. Use a small index card to write down what you want to accomplish and define your one “compelling reason why”
4. Pray for strength  (One + God = Majority)
5. Focus on your success and winning
6. Be prepared to take 21-36 days in order to establish a new, healthy habit. That’s why you take things one day at a time!
7. Be accountable, whether it be to a peer, friend, spouse, or coach
8. Put reminders and goals on post-it notes so you see them everyday
9. Line up positive self-talk with words of winning and success
10. Celebrate each day with gratitude, affirmation, or prayer
11. When you make a temporary mistake, shake it off and keep moving forward
12. Don’t be overwhelmed by how long or tough the road to change is. Be thankful you have the courage to keep going and never give up!

I’ve witnessed and have been inspired by numerous coaching clients who make good habits and break bad ones. It’s possible and worth it!

Here’s to your good habits and future success!


As a master storyteller, Steve has unparalleled ability to communicate dynamic business and leadership truths through stories, anecdotes and humor. Harness the power of the “number one” predictor of professional success, impact, leadership, high performance and sustainable relationships in business and life. Steve’s highest rated keynote presentation.

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“The purpose of Leadership Quest is to help professionals develop their personal leadership, vision and emotional intelligence. Everyday I strive to help leaders and teams achieve their desired goals in sales productivity, leadership, time maximization, and life-balance. ”

About the Author

Steve Gutzler is the President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle-based leadership development company. Steve is a dynamic, highly-sought-after speaker who has delivered more than 2,500 presentations to a list of clients including Microsoft, Starbucks, the Seattle Seahawks, Pandora Radio, Boeing, Cisco, Starwood Corporation, the Ritz Carlton group, and the U.S. Social Security Administration. He recently was voted #1 by the readership of Huffington Post as the Most Inspirational Leader on Social Media.

A published author on leadership and emotional intelligence, Steve resides near Seattle with his wife Julie where they enjoy time with their three adult children and six grandchildren.