Habits, Routines, What’s the Difference?

Different perspectives exist for the concepts/definitions of routines and habits, but in essence, routines are behaviors that are frequently practiced regularly and intentionally. While habits are also behaviors that are frequently and regularly practiced, habits are performed with little to no thought. Habits are the product of routines being performed consistently enough that they become automatic in particular contexts. Often, when a behavior is a habit and it is not performed when it typically would be, it can cause feelings of discomfort. Habits are challenging to build because it takes time and effort. We need to identify and implement a routine, prepare for possible barriers, and practice compassion with ourselves for setbacks without crossing over into justifying or making excuses.


  1. Pick a routine you would like to implement for yourself over the next week (Start small, this is just a practice exercise! Pick something that is attainable for you right now)
  2. Identify 1-2 barriers that may cause difficulty and a strategy you can use to either eliminate or overcome these barriers
  3. Do your best to make this behavior happen every day this week. IF you miss a day, practice compassion by reminding yourself that THIS IS OK! You can return to the routine the following day and get right back on track. (However, check in with yourself to make sure you’re not just giving yourself an easy way out).
  4. Next Monday – Reflect on your week. Identify “wins” and barriers and come up with a plan to improve next week.

Remember: Consistency builds routines. Routines become habits. Habits change lives.

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