Human Resources

Why are new habits hard to make?

by Carolyn Corbin

When I was pumped up on New Year’s enthusiasm, my friend Ruth and I pledged to renew ourselves for the new year.  As the new year was upon us,  I felt enthused to re-make my health not to mention finances, housekeeping, and parenting skills.  A shinier version of me.  Carolyn 2.0.  

Full of enthusiasm, I could clearly imagine my new healthy and virtuous life.  One new habit I wished for was to drink more water. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself smiling and wiping my chin, a satisfied 'Ah!". And by day two I'd already fallen off the wagon.  I won't say exactly how except that it might have involved donuts.

Turns out, it can be hard to change habits.  I recently learned our habits are regulated by the part of the brain called the basil ganglia.  If you think you sometimes run on remote control, it’s because you do!  Almost 40% of our daily behaviors are rote habits run by the basal ganglia.  But don’t be annoyed with your amazing brain.  Being able get dressed and make breakfast by habit is much easier than reinventing your morning every day.

I don’t want to change all of my habits, just the bad ones. Replacing bad habits with what we really want is one recommended strategy.  When I feel blue or fearful I suddenly crave glazed donuts.  But what I really want is strength and confidence. 

When starting new habits, experts say it’s smart to start small. Like when I started taking vitamin D and calcium supplements.  It’s small action and can be easily forgot until the new activity is folded into my routine.  I pop the tablets down with my coffee in the morning – and now vitamin D is becoming part of my habitual routine.

What gives me strength and confidence?  Maybe I could take a brisk walk or call on a friend for a pep talk.  Or, maybe I’m just dehydrated and upping my water level will do the trick. 

One glass of water, please.

Carolyn Corbin is the founder of  Embed wellness into your routine by scheduling movement & mindfulness practice from into your daily calendar.  




7 Steps To Tie Wellness Programs Into Your Workplace Culture

By Meghan M. Biro ,  I cover talent, branding, HR tech, leadership and digital media.  


Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


According to a RAND Corporation study in 2013, 85% of U.S. companies employing 1,000 people or more offer some sort of workplace wellness program. This is fantastic, right? But Gallup research shows that only 60% of U.S. employees are aware that their company offers a wellness program – and only 40% of those who are aware of the program say they actually participate. So that results in only 24% of employees taking advantage of these programs. Not so fantastic, right?

Although wellness is a high priority for employers and employees alike, programs are often under-used. In some cases, it’s a lack of proper marketing. Other times, it’s a program that just kind of sits there and isn’t tied to the culture of the organization.

Here are seven steps to help infuse wellness into the culture of your organization so it permeates throughout the business, increasing its exposure, utilization and success.

Step 1: Assess and acknowledge the culture. There are many ways to assess the culture of your organization. Take surveys, use tools, apply technology and acknowledge what you find.

Developing a culture-first mentality means focusing on employees’ total quality of life — including physical, mental, social, emotional and financial health.

It is not just about convincing employees to join a weight loss program because “everyone is doing it.” It’s about connecting with people in ways that put lifestyle changes within easy reach, and encouraging them to support one another.

Step 2: See what cultural changes need to be made anyway. This is a great opportunity to see what’s broken in the organizational culture and subsequently address what changes can be part of this initiative. There are many ways to make small changes that have big impact.

Step 3: Work closely with executives to get buy in. Culture is modeled behavior. Did you find that people love to compete? Have contests among executives to see who can take the most steps in a week. And then do the same competition among departments as a follow-up. Wearables are so easy to use in the workplace and the benefits are tremendous. And according to Statista, the global wearables market is expected to reach a value of $19 billion in 2018, more than 10 times its value five years prior. People love them!

Step 4: Kick off any wellness program in a way that engages employees. If you don’t start with enthusiasm, you will likely lose people before you even get started. Engagement is consistently addressed as a key element in employee happiness and productivity. This is no exception. Here are a few facts from Limeade:

• When employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, they are 38% more engaged.

• Research shows that engagement predicted well-being above and beyond anything else.

• Companies with higher employee engagement are 78% more profitable, 78% more productive, five times less likely to have an accident.

Step 5: Overtly tie together your unique culture with wellness. Say things like, “We know the high-stress seasons of our business, so free yoga is now offered during these times.” Or “We are a group of tech-loving geeks, so here is a brand new app we can all use to pursue health and wellness together!” OR “We care about the whole you, so enjoy the made-over break room, now focused on your health.”

Step 6: Be consistent in your messaging. This is simply important in any successful initiative. Product launches don’t last one day, either do wellness programs. Use newsletters, blogs, meetings, social media, App pushes, and whatever other channels works for your important news and say the same things across all platforms (in ways that work for that channel). So figure out your culturally relevant wellness message, put on your marketing hat, share it across platforms, and stick to it.

Step 7: Do periodic evaluations of the culture, because it may very well change based on this program! What if this culture of wellness really does what it’s supposed to? Employees are healthier, morale is high, productivity is up, health costs and missed days are down. If this is a departure from the previous culture, keep it up! But don’t be afraid to see if the wellness messages are still culturally relevant and make changes along the way.