How to Make Habits Stick With Cathryn Lavery of BestSelf

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Hello and Happy New Year! I stuck to my word and I’m back. Thanks for hanging in because it’s going to be worth it.

Quick storytime: Back in 2016 when I first launched AWA (originally as a blog), I used a journal to keep me on track. Today I speak with the co-creator of that journal – Cathryn Lavery, Co-Founder and CEO of BestSelf Co.

In this episode Cathryn shares:

– The most important thing about habit setting

– How long it takes to form a habit

– A giveaway & discount especially for AWA listeners

To check out BestSelf’s tools and save 20% in January, visit


Sarah: (00:03)
This is the Adulting with ADHD podcast: self-empowerment for women with ADHD. Hello, ADHD-ers and Happy New Year. I stuck to my word and I’m back. Thanks for hanging in because today is totally going to be worth it. That is Mr. Bean in the background. He decided to hang out with us today. I wanted to start with a quick little story time before I introduce our guests. Back in 2016 when I first launched Adulting with ADHD, it was a blog at the time, I used a journal to keep me on track. The co-creator of that journal is here today. Please welcome Cathryn Lavery, co-founder and CEO of Best Self. Hello, Cathyrn.

Cathryn: (00:54)
Hi Sarah. Nice to be here. Happy New Year.

Sarah: (00:57)
Happy new year. I’m so excited to be talking about you and your company. I came across your journal years ago and I really loved the format, how you could just jump in any day of the year, even if it wasn’t January. And I loved how it was broken into quarters and we can talk about all that good stuff. But let’s start with you telling me a little bit about you, your background, and how Best Self came into existence.

Cathryn: (01:27)
Yeah. So the self journal was our first product with Best Self analysis, created essentially from me looking in personal development for a few years and realizing how much we don’t learn at school. So, we learn history and biology and all these things, but the things that I believe will make you most successful is just learning how to manage your time and focus.

Cathryn: (01:49)
And when I read all these books, I was like, okay, there’s so much here. How do I come up with a framework that I can just follow? And if I just do the thing, then the results will happen. So, that’s kind of where the self journal came from. It was like, okay, I know that morning gratitude and planning my day ahead of time and all of these things that were baked into self journal, that started in a Moleskine where I would just write it in every single day. And then I have a design background. So, after a while doing that it gets tiring, correct?

Cathryn: (02:19)
So, I decided, okay, let me create a framework for this so that I can print it and just fill in the space. Realized it was going to be very expensive to print. So that’s why we went to Kickstart and it ended up becoming this huge thing because people realized, “Oh. I need this”. A lot of us, we guard our homes and we guard our security systems and we lock things up. But a lot of us don’t guard our time, which we’re never going to get back.

Cathryn: (02:46)
And so, for the self journal it was how do we start guarding our time and turning it into whatever we want? Because we can turn it into more money, more projects, more time with people we love, we just have to convert it into that. But if it just disappears then we’ll never get it back. So that’s kind of where the self journal started.

Sarah: (03:05)
I love that. That idea of guarding your time. We would talk about that a lot in our community and the importance of focus because it does rob you of your life when you’re just aimlessly wondering around. So, I love that. I actually was one of the people use the Moleskine journal before you guys developed something better. It’s totally awesome. I love that.

Sarah: (03:31)
In the spirit of the new year, I wanted to talk about habit setting a bit. You guys have developed something called Habit Roadmap. Do you want to tell us a little bit about Habit Roadmap?

Cathryn: (03:41)
Yeah. The Habit Roadmap is a physical chart that you put on your wall with the habits and things that you want to do that will get you to your goals. Thing that I did for awhile, my phone’s like a productivity app graveyard. So I’ll download a habit app. I’m like “this is the one”, and then a week later, it’s like I don’t even remember it.

Cathryn: (04:03)
So, I really wanted something that was physical in my space that was staring me in the face that I couldn’t ignore it. And when I realized, when we set these goals… So, one of my goals this year is a health goal, and it’s easy to just get caught up on this goal without breaking down how you’re going to get there. So this health goal is lose 8 pounds of body fat.

Cathryn: (04:25)
Like, “Okay. That’s a great goal. Well how do I know that I’m on track?” Like, the critical drivers that will need to be measured weekly, daily, monthly. And if I just do those things, I’m going to hit my goals. And not just kind of hoping to get there, but what are the actual steps? So it’s like writing down what I eat every day. Filling my Apple watch activity range. And these things that, they’re very small things, but if you do them every day?

Cathryn: (04:49)
So that’s what I put on the Habit Roadmap. So that you have daily habits, things that you do every day, and you have weekly habits. So say you have a podcast goal to get more listeners. Well, then you probably have to create more content. And how do you create more content? Maybe you’re writing 500 words every day, or you’re having one brainstorming session a week. So what are the things that drive the results, and then how do you create a system for those?

Sarah: (05:14)
And in your experience, not just your studying, but your practical experience, what seems most important thing, in your opinion, about habit setting?

Cathryn: (05:23)
I think it’s just starting small. If you’ve never worked out, don’t go, “Oh. I’m going to work out every single day.” Because what’s going to happen is that’s going from 0 to 100, and it’s easier just to do small things every day. Then if you miss it one day and then you decide, “Oh. Well, that’s not going to work” and you jump off? Like it’s okay to miss a day. You just have to keep going the next day. The only time that you fail is when you miss a day and then you don’t get back onto it because you’ve essentially decided that because you missed today, that’s it.

Cathryn: (05:54)
Small consistent steps are much better burning out by doing one thing a week, for example. So I have the thing of like a time versus problem. So lot of times people will try to solve a lifestyle or longterm problem with short term time, instead of solving a long term problem, like for example, maybe there’s something wrong with your health. If you try to solve it with a short term time span, like 24 hours, and work out 24 hours, that’s actually not going to solve the problem. But you’ll burn yourself out. You probably would injure yourself and it’s actually not going to solve the problem. But if you worked out or went for a walk 20 minutes a day every single day, that is a longterm solution and is much more likely to solve that problem that you have.

Sarah: (06:38)
Yeah. I completely agree with my own experience and years and years of doing the obvious thing every year that we all tend to do having these big goals and then burning out right away. The all or nothing thinking when you mess up and then you quit and you don’t jump back in and not starting small enough. I think starting small, I think you pretty much nailed it right there.

Sarah: (07:04)
So, when you were researching all this, I know there’s lots of rules of thumb on how long it takes to form a habit. And in your opinion, what does science say? What have been your own observations about how long it takes to really form a habit?

Cathryn: (07:21)
There’s a scientific study. It says something like 66 days. And I think if you did it every day for 66 days, that can become a habit. It just depends how different it is from what you currently do already. So like I said, if you’re going from 0 to 100, it’s probably going to take longer because the whole point of a habit is it’s something that you do without thinking about it. So the reason we set up the Habit Roadmap to be three months is we have three month goals. Because I think that one year goals are… Like, a lot can happen in a year, especially our twenties, so much can happen that if you set a goal for a year time and then your life changes, you’re like, “Well, I didn’t hit my goal”, but it might not be the right goal for where you move to.

Cathryn: (08:01)
So three months is enough time to see the end in sight so you’re not procrastinating on the time and actually seeing something concrete at the end of three months. And then pivoting if it doesn’t work, rather than getting to the end of the year and realizing that you’re even walking the wrong direction for a year or so.

Cathryn: (08:18)
So, we set three months goals and we also set three months habits, things that you want to start implementing in your life so that after three months, if you realize “Actually this habit isn’t actually getting me to where I want to go”, you can pivot instead of just creating a habit that isn’t actually getting you the results that you want. Because, again, it’s not about just creating habits for the sake of it. It’s about creating habits that bring you the result that you want. And if that doesn’t happen after three months, it might be that you have to tweak something. It might be that you just have to keep going longer, but we just don’t want to have you creating habits that aren’t really beneficial to you.

Sarah: (08:58)
Yeah, that was another reason the self journal appealed to me so much, and I think that was the first time I actually thought of it that way. That you can work in quarters. And ever since that idea was introduced it’s been really life changing, actually. And so I love how that is a feature of your products. That’s really awesome.

Cathryn: (09:20)
Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.

Sarah: (09:22)
Yeah. It might be something in the business world that’s like common knowledge, but applied in a personal context and just living your life. I just had never seen it framed that way. And as soon as I saw it, it just changed everything. So, yeah. What you guys are doing is having a huge impact. Definitely.

Sarah: (09:43)
We wanted to actually have a little giveaway for our listeners with these habit trackers. It’s just a fun little getaway. I’m just going to pick a couple of winners at random. And what you do is you get on your favorite social network and post you know the most important habit to you that you want to set this quarter as opposed to this year. I’m going to clarify that right now. And when you do that, tag Adulting with ADHD. Tag Best Self. We’re going to share our handles here in a second. You’ll be entered to win and I’ll just pick a couple of winners at random.

Sarah: (10:19)
So, Cathryn, thank you so much for showing up on my tiny little podcast. Where can my listeners find you online and Best Self?

Cathryn: (10:28)
You can find Best Self at That’s the website. Or on all social media. My name is Cathryn Lavery and you can find me on all the social media. I have a personal blog called Little Might where I just talk about personal development and productivity and business things. So if anyone is interested in that, you can find me there. And if anyone wants to get a product from Best Self, you could put Adulting with ADHD as the coupon code and get can get 20% off in January.

Sarah: (11:01)
Thank you, Cathryn. That is super awesome. I might be headed to your site after our interview because I’m so excited and talking about all this. And then for as far as my handles go, if you guys want to enter that giveaway, on Twitter and Instagram, the handle is ADHD Adulting, and you can find me on Facebook at Don’t forget to enter that giveaway. And if you prefer email, you can always hit me up at Well, thank you again, Cathryn. It’s been a pleasure.

Cathryn: (11:36)
Great. Thank you so much.

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