The Secret To Breaking Habits Is Easier Than You Think

happiness design

“The secret to breaking habits is this: Create + Practice a new one. Starting Now”

It’s Monday so that means a new Happy House Rules is beckoning you to play.

And this week, it’s about that sometimes pesky, sometimes scary, sometimes awesome “Habits”. And while I’m at, I’ll add another word that seems to be equally awesome, scary, pesky and awesome: Change.

For many of us, the words change and habits, when applied directly to us and the things that we need to be doing (as opposed to telling other people what to do), scare the living begeezus out of us, or cause us to bury our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not there. Or ignore it. Or find excuses…

Too hard, too big, too…too new, too different, too…unknown!

Most of us seem to choose the “better the devil we know, than the devil we don’t”. Even though we may hate something, the thought of gulp, having to change it, feels much much worse.

out with the old in with the new

Well, what if I told you that it could be better. It will be better. But first, there’s a trick. It requires two things.

1. A New Habit –  perhaps like me you prefer the word “practice” ie A New Practice

2. Time – time to start, time to pass through the inevitable slump…move over the usual hump…time until it sticks.

Taken together, they are “Practicing a new habit”

Yup. That’s really all there is too it.

Of course there is a lot of other stuff going on in our heads and bodies to explain it, which I’ll come back to that in another blog post for later this week. There’s also some other stuff about how we fight the new habit. But really, when it comes down to it you just need to practice a new habit over time.

So, let’s allow me a little bit of time to tell you a little story and help this secret sink in a bit.

Let’s call it me and my bike.

Once upon a time, a guy gave a girl a bike. And the bike sat outside their house.

The End.


Kinda obscure story for a blogpost around habits in our homes and lives. Well, maybe. Give me a chance.

…The electric red bike was a gift from my Mr. It’s a great gift.

Those who know me well will know I have TALKED a lot about bike riding for years, but done very little of actually riding a bike. To date I have lived in 5 bike cities, yet until the Mr. gifted aforementioned bike never owned one. In fact, I never rode one much either. Maybe 5 times in 13 years. I should add, I am also an expert at sitting on the backs of other people’s bikes. And walking, everywhere. Or driving. Or hailing a cab. Or using public transport…

So let’s get to the heart of the matter. It’s not a money issue. I can and have always been able to afford to buy a bike. It’s not quite a skills issue either: that is, I can technically ride a bike. It’s just…I stopped when I was like 6 years old. Maybe 7. Probably just after my training wheels were removed. It’s not a trauma issue: I haven’t ever had an accident or anything. So it’s not like there is some bike-related-memory lurking in my past that I have to overcome. It’s not a time issue either. I mean, I’m sure I could find a few minutes a day to focus on myself and riding a bike.

Yet it IS a Fear issue. I’ll come right out and say it. Bike riding scares me. I’m afraid of riding a bike. Of the speed. Perhaps also of what might happen….it’s also probably a confidence issue. I’m not very good at it, so I don’t do it, so I’m not very good at it. Nice cycle I have going on there.

After a month of having the bike, the Mr confronted me and asked me “Why are you not riding your bike?” and countered all my responses with “You just need to ride it more”.

Now those of you who live with Mr./ Mrs  (or know anyone who loves you enough to know how to be really annoying) will know these type of questions and comments, however innocent their intention, have inherent in their design a large dose of a chemical drink called “how to piss you off” (Aussie slang for “make you really mad”).

Huge buckets of this “pissed off” drink will now flood your body and you will get defensive, angry or at best, quietly, perhaps even silently, defiantly defensive and walk off in a huff. You will explain, either to him or yourself, how you are trying. How it’s hard. How he doesn’t understand. How it’s scary.

There is however, a teeny other voice that we shan’t tell him about. The teeny whispering one that says, “Maybe he’s right?” “Why aren’t I riding this bike?”.

I guess I could have spent ages and tons of money on a psychologist and delve deeply into this. Or I could do what led Tip and I into starting Apartment Diet in the first place. Bypass my own head and do something PHYSICAL about it.

I was going about this the wrong way. I wasn’t applying what I know. Which is a secret that a lot of people before me and smarter than me know.

Don’t try and break a habit. Start a new one.

So I started a new habit.

My new story goes like this.

Once upon a time a guy gave a girl a bike. She rode it 3 times a week for 5minutes. She rode it to her favourite cafe once a week. And then soon, she rode it everywhere.

Story continues.

That is it. I started actually riding my bike.

I started with baby steps. Like, really baby steps. For the last month I have ridden the bike to yoga class around the corner. We’re talking a 10minute walk so a two minute bike ride. Which means 5minutes for me.

The first time I was sweating more than any exercise class would lead me to sweat. But the week later, I rode my bike to yoga again. Because one of my new habits for bike riding is riding my bike to this yoga class. And then the week after, just as it was going well, I chickened out. No problem. The old story is that. Old. I haven’t failed. All I have to do is continue on my NEW HABIT. Ride my bike again.

So I rode my bike again for 5minutes somewhere else. And reminded myself of why I like it.

celebrate every victory

I love that riding my bike means I don’t have to carry my heavy laptop. Or my yoga clothes. It means I get places quicker. It means I’m getting better at riding a bike.

Which brings us back to you…and habits.

This week is all about NEW HABITS. What new habits do you want to add to your life? Start today. Start now, with a corner. With 5minutes. With something physical.

start today

Now it’s your turn. What new habit do you want to create? Start now.

Know there WILL be a time in the middle or even the beginning when your old habit will want to win over the new habit. Accept it and move on. Celebrate every little teeny weeny success that goes with this new habit. And allow time to do the work.

So off you go. Some ideas to get you started:

Use our 5min rule and commit to: – taking 5minutes to put your clothes away before bed / wash the dishes before bed / turn off devices earlier or whatever else can be done in 5minutes every day. If you miss one day, oh well, you have a whole other day filled with opportunities to take 5minutes to continue on your new habit path.

Use our live with plants rule and buy a plant and learn how to look after it. Practice the habit of watering it for 10seconds a week. (We have a list of our top 7 unkillable plants here). And if the plant is less than thriving, don’t use it as an excuses. Water it. Move it to a better position in your home. Call where you bought it and ask for instructions. Whatever.

And don’t forget our other rule #screwperfection.

Find a new habit and practice it.

Fail better

One final comment while you’re thinking of habits. Tip and I test out everything on ourselves (and with a select few clients who agree to be guinea pigs).

We also know we fear change because we want to be excellent, immediately

Guess what. You won’t be. You may actually suck. That’s how we learn.

But then, a few weeks later you’ll suck a lot less. And a few weeks after that, you’ll be pretty good. And after that…well, you’ll forget this was a new habit because it will be your regular habit.

Now of course some habits take longer to take hold than others. In our experience, it’s one calender month. That’s 5 weeks. That’s why our coaching sessions run for 5weeks. And our courses. 5 weeks shouldn’t shouldn’t scare you, it should inspire you! You’re committing to something new and it really only takes a month for it to kick in. And if you keep practicing, to last! Make the process as fun and rewarding as possibly.

So… once more, just in case it hasn’t sunk in yet:

“The secret to breaking habits  Create a new one…

…and then keep practising the new one. Celebrate your successes. No matter how small. And let time do the work.”


PSST I’ll let you in on another secret: from September 1st Tip and I are taking this business up a notch. We had a huge insight into just how big changing your space is. It changes lives. That’s what we do. We create happy healthy homes as a way to change people’s lives. As a result, we are being very careful with our time. For the months of September – December we will be taking ONLY 5 clients per calendar month each. That’s it. That’s guiding 5 lucky clients globally each every monthto make the big changes they seek, to creating a happy healthy home + life. It costs $350.

Contact us if you want to get in early.

Image sources