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The Three Phases of Habit Formation

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

It’s THE HABITS of highly successful people that allow them to consistently perform behaviors that breed success. Most people want positive habits to be as easy as brushing their teeth.…LET’S BE ADULTS HERE…being great isn’t easy. In fact, greatness requires doing things that others won’t do. Your New Year Resolutions will undoubtedly move you toward greatness, but only if you succeed through the 3 phases of habit formation:


This phase of habit formation is characterized by the feeling of “this is easy” and is usually the result of something inspiring. For example, a person attends a highly motivational conference, and for the first few days after the conference the individual is making positive changes in his or her life.


Inspiration fades and reality sets in. A person finds himself struggling and old habits seem to be right around the corner. The key to moving to the third phase of habit formation is to win 2 or 3 “fight thru’s.” This is critical. To win the fight thru, use the following techniques:

RECOGNIZE: Recognize when you have entered the fight thru and simply say to yourself, “I have entered the fight thru, and I need to win a few to move past this.” Winning each fight thru will make it easier to win the next, or if you choose to lose a fight thru, you make it easier to lose the next one.

ASK: “How will I feel if I do this?” and “How will I feel if I don’t do this?” Bring EMOTION into the equation. Let yourself feel the positive in winning the fight thru and the negative in losing.

LIFE PROJECTION: If the above 2 techniques haven’t moved you to action, then imagine in great detail how your life will be in 5 years if you do not begin making changes. Be totally honest with yourself, and allow yourself to feel what life will be like if the changes are not made.


Entering second nature is often described by feelings of “getting in the groove.” Once in second nature, the following are 3 common interruptions that will send a person back to the fight thru:

THE DISCOURAGEMENT MONSTER: allowing negative results discourage him or her into thinking, “This isn’t working, and there is nothing I can do.”

DISRUPTIONS: An individual experiences significant change to his or her current pattern (e.g., vacations, holidays, illness, weekends).

SEDUCTION OF SUCCESS: An individual begins to focus on positive results and begins to think, “I’m the special one. I have finally figured out how to have great results with not so great process.” If a person experiences an interruption that sends him or her back to the fight thru, winning 2 or 3 fight thru’s will bring him or her back to second nature.


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