Habit Starter Checklist: 2023 Guide to New Habits

Habit Starter Checklist

There are so many ways to grow a habit. I’ve tried them all and then some. In my effort to save you a few years of trial and error I’ve compiled a list. The habit starter checklist – the 2021 updated guide. 

This list includes the research of Steven Covey, Kelly McGonigal, Charles Duhigg, BJ Fogg, Leo Babauta, and James Clear plus my own work and experience with habits. I hope you find it completely and utterly useful.

It’s broken down into 5 parts: Reminder, Routine, Reward, Rehearse, and Record. The first three you’ll recognize from James Clear’s and Charles Duhigg’s work. The other two are the result of personal experience. 

This is the habit starter checklist updated for 2021:


1) Determine your trigger sentence.

Format it like this: “Right after (Reminder), then I will (Habit).”

ex. Right after I drink coffee, then I will write.

2) Determine the time of day you will complete your habit. Be specific.

Keep in mind that the mornings are the easiest because you have the most willpower after you wake up. If you schedule a key habit for the end of the day, chances are higher that you’ll procrastinate. 

3) Choose one object to be the visual reminder for your habit. Place it in your nearby vicinity.

I use a coffee mug to remind me of writing. I use a water bottle as a reminder to go for a walk/run.


4) Choose the weekly frequency of your habit.

This basically refers to how many times a week you’ll perform that habit. When you start a new habit, I feel like it’s better to do it every. You get into a rhythm and the actual habit sticks easier (and faster). 

5) Make your habit small enough that you remove all hesitation.

Any hesitation will set you up to fail. Make your habit small enough that you simply can’t say no. Five minutes of push-ups every day it’s more doable than 30. 

6) Write out your habit so completion is clear.

If you write down your habit and goals in detail, it’s very clear when you’ve successfully completed them.

Suggested format: “I will (Habit) for (Amount of Time) (Number of times per week).”

ex. I will run for 30 minutes every day.


7) Write down why you are completing this habit.

What pain will it prevent? What benefit/pleasure will it provide? After your habit picks up, you might forget why you initially started but this will always keep you in check. 

8) Choose the physical movement you’ll use to celebrate completing your habit.

You can use anything. Most people go for a fist pump, high-five themselves, jump in the air, or simply do a little victory dance. Anything goes. 

You just need something that will help remind your brain that this habit is rewarding.

8) Choose a phrase you will use to praise your progress.

Same logic as above. It can be as simple or complex as you wish. 


9) Write out your habit from Reminder to Reward.

Run through your full habit 5 to 10 times. No joke. This is the easiest way to remember your habit and get all the kinks out. The more you rehearse it, the faster it will become a habit.

10) Write out the smallest versions of your habit.

Some days will get crazier than others. Since consistency is more important than the actual amount of time, you need shorter versions of your main habit. This will still allow your habit to grow even on days when time is short. 

ex: Instead of running for 30 minutes, walk home from work. 

11) Write out the 3 biggest struggles that you foresee.

For each struggle, write out one thing you can do to overcome it. This will give you more clarity, and a plug-n-play strategy for tough days. 


12) Track your habit 

You can use a habit tracking software, a handwritten journal, or some post-its. I personally like Habitica, Habitify, and Coach.me. 

13) Take the time to strategize.

Take some time to get familiar with the app (if you use any). Maybe even put together a calendar and step-by-step process. 

15) Choose a day to review your progress.

Choose a day each week to review how well you did and reflect back on your struggles, wins, and losses. Most people prefer Sunday but it can be any day of the week as long as you have some free time. 


This is a straightforward checklist that anybody can follow to build a new habit in 2021. Make sure to follow it in as much detail when starting out a new habit. And, don’t hesitate to take notes or even print out this plan. 

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Rob Nash
Rob Nash

Rob Nash is a tech writer with a comprehensive focus on technology, productivity, and overall success in life and business.

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