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Using Inertia to Build on Healthy Habits

Just Begin Again

Harness the power of now and let it power you to great new things in 2019.
By Robert Irvine

The statistics on failure of New Year’s resolutions are absolutely staggering. One study showed that just 8% of people realize their goals. Fitness goals in particular are abandoned with blinding speed, with a majority of January newcomers throwing in the towel before the month is even over.

Why does this happen? Because intention, in and of itself, can feel powerful in the moment. Everyone who makes a New Year’s resolution sincerely wants to see it come true. When they say they will change they believe it. But no matter how pure an intention you have, that intention loses all of its power over time if you lack a clear plan of action to back it up.

But more than just a solid workout and nutrition plan, you need to have a plan to deal with adversity. If your new plan has you going to the gym five days a week and all of a sudden you need to skip a day or two because of work or a family emergency, are you going to let that setback derail your entire program? Most people would, because both action and inaction are backed by powerful inertia.

I wrote about this concept of inertia in my book Fit Fuel: Action begets more action, laziness begets more laziness. Take the example of a super-fit go-getter who’s killing it at work. He’s able to stay on top because he rides that wave. If he’s smarter than the average guy, it’s only because he’s smart enough not to let go of that inertia. Once you’re in the habit of success, it takes more than one misstep to fall out of the habit. Now take the guy who can’t get off his couch and can’t seem to get any area of his life in order. Inertia is at play in his experience as well. Unfortunately for the guy who’s losing, the same holds true; inertia is hard to reverse.

The good news in this example: You can start to form healthy habits and build your own inertia in as little as three weeks. Some studies suggest it’s longer than that, but in my personal experience that three weeks is a major hurdle. Power through that benchmark and you’re on your way. If you can power through to the end of March, you’ve built serious inertia, the kind where it will feel worse to stop than it will to continue.

You can make a major change in your life starting right now. You can make 2019 your year. Just remember that the act of summoning the raw willpower to make the change is a bigger deal in the beginning. Soon, healthy habits will be part of the new you. Just be prepared to say goodbye to the old you.

Yours in health,


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