How To Follow Through With Your Habits: Key Takeaways From Atomic Habits

atomic habits habit tracker habits habits contract life lessons patterns Feb 01, 2023
WCP 70 | Atomic Habits


Habits are a powerful thing. They can change your life for the better or for, the worse. Habits that are good for you can help you reach your goals, and habits that aren't so good for you can hold you back from reaching your goals. In this episode, Yanet Borrego shares her key takeaways from the book, Atomic Habits. She talks about how to follow through on your habits and why it's so important to do so. Yanet shares strategies from mindset shifts and habit trackers to accountability partners and life visions. Tune in now and learn how to control your habits before it controls you!


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How To Follow Through With Your Habits: Key Takeaways From Atomic Habits

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Our Lives Are Built By Patterns

I just finished listening to Atomic Habits, and I needed to make an episode summarizing the key takeaways from this amazing book. Atomic Habits is a very popular book right now, and it was written by James Clear. It's such a great compilation of how to stay consistent with your habits, how to follow through, and sustain this practice of keeping habits. To be honest, this is such an important topic because our lives are built by patterns. We wake up, we brush our teeth, we think certain things, we get our coffee, and we go to work. These patterns form habits.

WCP 70 | Atomic Habits

The quality of your life, joy, and happiness will depend strongly on the habits you are building and on the decisions and actions you are taking every single day. I love talking about this book because it's the beginning of 2023, and I know many of you are in the process or finished the process of setting goals. In order to execute those goals, habits are embedded in that process, the things that you do every single day. My desired outcome for this episode is to cover two of the most important mindsets in this book related to sustaining habits and two of the most life-changing tools that I've been utilizing that I learned in this book. My husband, too, has been using these tools.

Here's one of the tools I am recommending to all of my clients. They have been implementing this with great success. They have been super consistent, more consistent than ever, and it's just such a simple process to build this tool and just follow through with it. Let's talk about mindsets. Mindset shifts around habits. I want this to be fully actionable. I'm going to give you examples. I'm going to tell you how I'm utilizing it and how I'm coaching my clients to utilize this as they continue working through their high performance, wellness, or romantic relationships journey.

First Mindset Shift: Start Small

The first mindset is around habits. For example, let's assume you have a habit of working out, and this is something you haven't done for a while. These are just examples to illustrate. You want to work out and meditate every single day, those two habits. The first mindset shift is to start small. If this is the first time you are committed to implementing habits and you are incorporating habits that you don't have already, I would fully recommend you to start small, meaning start with 1 to 2 habits, maybe 3.

Two Minute Execution

Start with 1 to 2 habits that you are wanting to implement, and dedicate to these habits the execution of two minutes. I have clients who are not used to reading or meditating, and I've been telling them, "Just show up every single day for two minutes. If you show up for two minutes working out or meditating, those are four minutes." Seriously, It's super easy to follow through and implement. Just 4 minutes for these 2 habits. Here's the thing. You have to let go of perfection if you want to start small. Working out can be 50 jumping jacks and 50 squats. That's it.

A lot of my work is coaching clients and working in my digital course, so a lot of it is just sitting down. Something that I've been doing every single day is 100 jumping jacks and 100 squats. I use these tools that I'm going to teach you about. It's going to be life-changing for you. Start small in terms of the number of habits and the timing you are dedicating to them. If you do two minutes of meditating and feel inspired to continue going, amazing. You met and exceeded that expectation. We say two minutes because it's really easy to implement and show up, and it doesn't leave you with a feeling of, "I failed again. I didn't follow through again."

Two minutes is way easier to achieve than twenty minutes or one hour. I have a client that I'm coaching now. She's amazing. She wanted to do 30 minutes of yoga every single morning. This is the first time she's resuming this habit. I started asking her questions to make sure this was achievable and realistic. After 5 to 6 questions, we realized that this was not something she was going to follow through with. We incorporated that feedback. We stayed flexible, and she started doing two minutes of stretching. It's as simple as that.

Progress, Not Perfection

What you want to be striving for is consistency and progress, not perfection. Once you have been showing up for two minutes every single day for a month, imagine how much momentum you are going to gain to continue implementing more time in those habits and even more habits. Start small, build that strong foundation, build that mindset, and also build your confidence in following through. That is so important. Here's the second mindset shift, which I knew at a higher level, but after I read Atomic Habits, I have such a deeper understanding of it. It is to make the habits you want to implement easy to execute.

Second Mindset Shift: Make The Habits You Want Easy To Execute

I used to say all the time this all the time. I heard this from Tony Robbins a few years back, "Complexity is the enemy of execution." If you make it too complex, you're not going to execute. The habits that you want to implement, make them as easy as possible. For example, I ask my clients to track the progress of their habits, and some of them initially are like, "I'm going to start a spreadsheet on my computer. I'm going to start tracking it there." I always ask the question, "Is opening your computer and opening this file a habit already?" If it's not a habit already, then you would be working on two new habits back to back, and that's not efficient in terms of execution. Naturally, it's not going to come to you.

Habit Tracking Mechanism

What I've done myself and what I've been recommending to my clients is to print this habit tracker, which I'm going to talk about in terms of the tools of habits. Print this habit tracker, and just put it in a place that is highly visual. Cody and I have it in our refrigerator. I literally have a pen next to it. Every morning, after I do my 100 squats and 100 jumping jacks, I just check it off. Having this habit-tracking mechanism visible for you that you don't have to create another habit in order for you to execute is so important. If you go to the kitchen every morning, open the fridge, and you see that, that habit is in place already. You are not needing to create a new habit in order to see that tracking mechanism.

Make it as easy as possible for you 1) To measure habits, 2) To visualize the mechanism that you are using, and 3) Make it easy also in the execution, and that's where the two minutes come into place. Quick two minutes, go and done. Marking that off feels so good. Another mindset shift that really falls in this category is making the habits you don't want to keep hard. Here's something that I've been working on. I love watching TV shows, and people are like, "Do you have time to watch TV with all that you do?" I'm always posting on social media. I'm doing a million things. I'm like, "I don't have time. I find the time."

Watching TV has been a thing that I've been working on. One of my goals for these first three months of 2023 is to not watch TV. Making this habit hard can be, for example, taking the batteries out of the TV control and hiding the batteries somewhere, or asking your husband or someone else to hide the batteries for you, so it's not easy to execute. Whenever you want to watch TV and you remind yourself, "I don't know where the batteries are," then that process of finding the batteries and putting it back in the TV does take time. What you want to do is make those habits that you want to let go of and break the pattern of as hard as possible to execute.

That's why a lot of nutritional coaches and physical transformation coaches recommend people to clean their pantry completely and put out the trash and all that food that is not contributing to their goal. If it's not there, you are not going to eat it. This follows the same concept around making those bad habits really hard to execute and making the good habits you want to follow through with super easy to execute. I have this coaching client that she had already a habit of every day just tracking the medicine she was taking. Every day, she would have a tracking sheet, and she would track every single day marking the medicine. "Monday, I got it. Tuesday, I got it."

Leveraging that habit that you already have would be genius because she already has the habit of tracking every day the medicine. What we ended up doing is to her tracking sheet, we added the rest of the habits she wanted to implement, so it's just in front of her at all times, and she has already the habit of looking at that sheet every single day. It was perfect. In summary, the mindset shifts are start small in terms of timing and number of habits you want to implement. The second one is the habits that you want to follow through with, make them as easy to implement as possible. The ones you want to let go of and you don't want to keep, the ones you want to break the pattern because they are not healthy and helpful, make them as hard as possible to implement.

Executing and putting into practice these mindset shifts and this how, which I explained on how to apply these concepts, is going to be a game changer for your habits. It has been for me and my clients. I continue to be so impressed at how easier it is to execute when you have the right systems in place. Now that we are talking about systems, let's talk about the two tools I'm utilizing myself, and one of them is the one that I recommend to all of my coaching clients now. I'm obsessed with this one. The first one, having a habit tracker.


Make the habits that you want to follow through with as easy to implement as possible. And make the ones you want to let go become as hard as possible to implement or execute.


This habit tracker is super simple. I got the idea from the habit tracker that James Clear has. What he does is that he creates columns for each one of the days. For example, 1 column for 1, 2, and 3 until day number 31st because most months have 30 or 31 days. There is one column where you are going to write down your habits. Once you write down your habits, now you have your days in columns, and you can start checking, "January 1st, done. January 2nd, done. January 3rd, done." This is a template that you can print out every month because it doesn't vary. This is a very standardized template.

I really hope you can understand. The picture is to make sure you have all of the days number-wise. We don't care about Monday and Friday. We just need the numbers 1 to 31 in columns. You can have in the first column the habits which you are tracking. It's super simple. You can print it out easily and effortlessly. The most important part, you need to put that sheet in a place that is visible. I mentioned that already, and I know how it goes. You're thinking that the computer is going to work out great. If you don't remember to open that digital spreadsheet or that digital Google sheet, it's not going to happen.

Let's make it as easy as possible. Build your own habit tracker. It doesn't have to be that complicated. If you have a planner, for example, "I have a planner. Do I do it there?" do it there only if you have the habit of looking at your planner every single day. If that habit is not built, build that one sheet, print it out for the twelve months of the year, and put January your refrigerator, as simple as that. We don't want to complicate it any more. Here's the second tool. Honestly, if you take it seriously, it can change your consistency completely.

I'm giving you a disclaimer. This tool is for the people, which I'm sure you are that people because you're reading at this, and growth is in your top values. This tool is for all of you who are committed to making it happen right now. This tool is called creating a habit contract. You may be thinking, "A contract with who?" It's a contract with your accountability partners. There is so much more just in that sentence. This idea was something that Cody, my husband, started implementing after he read Atomic Habits, and then I followed him because I loved this idea.


This contract summarizes your habits in a very specific and measurable way. It also documents the consequences of you not following through with your habits. I'm going to explain that in a second. At the end of the contract, you have your accountability partners, which are the ones doing a quality check to make sure you're following through with your habits and they keep you accountable. They literally signed that contract with you, and that contract is sealed. The only thing you have to do is to follow the terms and conditions. If you violate this habit, which I'm sure is not going to happen, you got to follow through with the consequences. It is so simple but so powerful.

Again, it's creating a contract with a summary of your habits. Open a word document. This doesn't have to be complicated. Write down your habits, write down the consequences of not following through with your habits, and get 1 to 2 accountability partners that will keep you accountable. Let's talk about accountability partners for a second. Not everyone is a great accountability partner. You need someone who will really make you accountable, not a best friend that is going to be like, "It's okay you didn't follow through. It's going to be fine." You need someone that you know that person is going to make you accountable. That way, you are going to motivate yourself to follow through.

For example, Cody is an amazing accountability partner. I'm a very good accountability partner for him. My mom wouldn't be a great accountability partner. I remember telling her several weeks ago, "Mom, I'm not eating rice at night. This is part of the new healthy habits that I'm following. No rice at night." A few hours after, she's like, "Do you want rice for dinner and fried plantains?" I'm like, "Mommy, I just told you I didn't want rice." That wouldn't be a great accountability partner. She's great at many other things, and accountability is not one of them. Get amazing accountability partners that will keep you accountable.

Consequences And Accountability Partners

Let's talk about the consequences. Consequences can vary for every single person. As you think of the consequences of violating your habits, I want you to push yourself to document something that will make you really uncomfortable that just the thought of it, you're like, "No, thank you. I'm going to follow through with my habits." For example, Cody sent $300 to his accountability partners. I was there. He sent me $300 and he sent his other accountability partner $300. If he violated his habits, we would keep the $300, myself, and his accountability partner, a total of $600.


Consequences can vary for every single person, but as you think of the consequences of violating your habits, push yourself to document something that will make you really uncomfortable.


If he would stick to his habits, and he did this for a month and a half, we would give him back the money he had deposited in our Venmo account. For him, the consequence was paying money. For me, the money, I wouldn't find as effective to me. I wouldn't like it, but to me was different. My consequence, if I violate my habits, and Cody's my accountability partner, would be to email my email list of hundreds of people for five days back to back saying that I had a habit contract, and I didn't follow through with the contract. I imagine that would be so annoying. Also, that wouldn't feel nice at all.

I don't want to get there. Therefore, I'm following through with my habit. The consequences need to be something that you really find painful in a way. There is this trainer that in his sessions, he makes you run three miles in each one of his classes. Running is not one of the things that I enjoy. I also thought, "If I break my habits, I need to take his class three Fridays in a row." That would be so painful for me. That would be a heck no. It has to be something that is uncomfortable to you and painful. Thinking of that, it will give you the motivation to continue following through.


The habits contract is super powerful. I'm using it right now. Cody uses it. This is something I haven't implemented yet with my coaching clients because the habit tracker for them has been super effective. It is something that I would give us as a tool as I move forward. Let's summarize this amazing episode. I highly recommend Atomic Habits. It was such a great compilation of techniques, strategies, and mindset shifts of how we can sustain change and follow through with our habits. It does take energy, time, and effort, and the return is incredibly worth it.

Of the two mindset shifts we discussed in terms of creating and sustaining these habits, one is to start small and simple. The other one is for the habits that you want to implement, make that execution as easy as possible. If you had a habit already built into your routine, leverage that habit and link that habit to the new one that you want to build. For the bad habits that you want to break off the pattern, make that execution as hard as possible so you don't follow through with those. The two tools are incredibly helpful, building your habit tracker, and putting it in a visual place where you can document and follow through with those check marks that feel so good.

The last one is you are so committed and super ready to go build a habits contract where you have accountability partners and you have a consequence if you don't follow through with your habits. I hope this was super helpful. I wanted to do an episode on habits because all these mindset shifts, tools, and strategies have been incredibly helpful for me. I've been seeing results with myself and my clients. I hope you enjoy it. If you found value in this, please share it with friends and family. I always enjoy it so much. I love this community so much. We really want to continue spreading the light of empowerment. Thank you so much for reading. I hope you have an amazing week.


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