By Leo Babauta

When we first start out with a habit, we have an idea of how it will go … we create a plan based on that idea, and we start putting it into action.

That sometimes goes really well, and all goes according to plan. But usually not.

Most often, things are harder or more confusing than we expected. Unexpected things come up that interrupt us. We let ourselves off the hook or forget. The plan fails, and our idea of how the habit will be is wrong.

That can be incredibly discouraging — or it can be a way to improve.

How can you improve from these failures, interruptions, difficulties? By reviewing and adjusting.

The method I encourage you to use is the Habit Sprint. If you follow that method, you’ll get better and better each week.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Make a plan, as simple as possible, for changing your habit. This should include what you’ll do each day, when, reminders, motivation, accountability. If you don’t have all that, it’s OK, just start with something.
  2. Do a weekly review. At the end of every 7 days, do a quick 2-minute review: how did you do? How many days did you do the habit? What got in the way? How can you overcome those obstacles next time?
  3. Adjust your plan. Take the solutions to your obstacles and put it in your plan. Now your plan is better than before, adapted to reality. This is something you could not have done before you started the habit or did the review.
  4. Try out the new plan. See how the new plan works for the next week. Each week is called a Habit Sprint, where you implement the plan for a week, do a review at the end of the week, then adjust the plan.

Repeat every week, and your plan will get better and better. You’ll become better at the habit. Each obstacle becomes a learning point, a way to improve the plan and your approach.