New jeans remind you to tighten things up a bit

What New Jeans and Strong Habits Have in Common

And what it can mean for you

Ellen Goodwin
4 min readDec 9, 2022


Last month, I bought a new pair of jeans and a belt. My current favorite pair had reached a threadbare status, and the belt had seen better days (years?) Even though I ordered the same size and style, when I tried them on, they didn’t fit the same as the old jeans and belt.

They felt… different.

A little tighter.

Definitely more structured and less forgiving.

I had grown used to how my jeans and belt felt because, over time, they had softened, stretched, and conformed to my body. Over time they had lost their “structural integrity.”

The new pair reminded me of how things should actually feel and fit.

Of course, the new jeans and belt will lose some of their integrity and become soft and worn. I won’t see it happening, but it will happen, and I’ll be just as surprised that they have changed size and shape when I go to replace them.

The same thing happens with your habits over time.

They start strong and uncompromising, buoyed up by “structural integrity,” but over time, the rigidly defined walls begin to crumble without you really seeing it happening. Your habits become soft and worn, and the edges lose definition and effectiveness.

Let’s say you’ve established a solid habit that serves you well.

Maybe you’ve stopped smoking or drinking. Maybe you’re flossing your teeth daily, consistently adding more vegetables to your diet, or taking a long walk every day. Your habit is strong, and you’re seeing results from it.

But then, without even noticing, things slowly change.

One evening you decide not to floss your teeth because you’re tired, and really, what harm can come from missing one night? But then you do it again a couple of nights later.

You start enjoying a cookie during your afternoon slump, rationalizing that one cookie couldn’t hurt, but you soon find yourself doing it every day.

If you’re lucky, you’ll realize, before it’s too late, that you aren’t getting the good results you were before. You’ll look at what you are, or aren’t, doing…



Ellen Goodwin

Productivity Consultant, TEDx Speaker, Podcast Co-host, Author of DONE: How To Work When No One Is Watching. Learn more at