5 Surefire Ways to Build Healthy Habits that Stick

how-to-build-healthy-habits

Charles Swindoll writes: I used to bite my fingernails right down to the quick. I’d bite them off just as soon as the first signs of new growth would appear. Research has shown that it takes only about three or four weeks for an activity to become a habit. That is wonderful comforting if it’s a good habit we’re trying to promote, like more prayer or Bible study. But for most of us it’s the destructive habits, like my nail-biting, that get a hold on us until we are enslaved – mastered and manipulated by the beast of habit.

We become a living contradiction of the liberating truth of 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

You can’t believe the fire of conviction this verse once set ablaze within me. A close look reveals that this isn’t a verse talking about something lawless or wicked, but something that is actually lawful, but not profitable. My first encounter with this verse was not my final encounter with this painful habit. But it was certainly a turning point toward change, thank God.

The backwash of this nail-biting testimony has far-reaching effects. not a person who reads this is completely free from bad habits, whether lawless or lawful. It’s the price we pay for being human. Habits are as numerous as every detail of life; the list is endless. But let’s focus on five suggestions that will help us blend 1 Corinthians 6:12 into our lives. 

Stop rationalizing. Refuse to make comments like: “Oh, that’s just me. I’m just like that – always have been, always will be. After all, nobody’s perfect.” Such excuses take the edge off disobedience and encourage you to diminish or completely ignore the Spirit’s work of conviction.

Apply strategy. Approach your target with a rifle, not a shot gun. Take on each habit one at a time, not all at once.

Be realistic. It won’t happen fast. It won’t be easy. Nor will your resolve be permanent overnight. Period failures, however, are still better than habitual slavery.

Be encouraged. Realize you’re on the road to ultimate triumph, for the first time in years! Enthusiasm strengthens self-discipline and prompts an attitude of stick-to-it-iveness.

Start today. This is the best moment thus far in your life. To put it off is an admission of defeat and will only intensify and prolong the self-confidence battle.

Extracting the hurtful thorns of habit enables the pilgrim to focus less attention on himself and more attention on the One who is worthy. And the most exciting thought of all is that He will be right there in the morning ready to help you through the day with all the power you will need. one moment at a time. Need proof? How about ten fingernails and an emery board?

Here’s an interesting, 3 minute video clip that distills key lessons on Charles Duhigg’s thought-provoking book “The Power of Habit“:

Question: What new habits are you cultivating? What old habits are you discarding?


  • I loved that little video about habits. Those little reward connections really do help. Right now I’m working on a writing habit! 500 words a day, expect for Sundays of course!

  • I’m cultivating the habit of working out and eating better. I’ve made realistic weekly goals that will allow me to maintain this goal. Great read and advice.

  • Chinedum Amasiatu Oluwadamilol

    I am very grateful for this post and John Maxwell’s post that led me to it. Questions, questions, questions!!!. When I ask myself questions, I find out that I find things I need to change. By the way, I love the video on the power of habit. I have downloaded it to share with my children.

  • Dan Erickson

    I bounce back and forth with my eating and exercise habits. But overall I am improving.