Habit formation is the process by which a behavior, through regular repetition, becomes automatic or habitual. This is modeled as an increase in automaticity with a number of repetitions up to an asymptote.
Sticking with good habits can be a real challenge sometimes but once habits do settle in, It tends to kind of benefit us forever. But the question is how we can turn our good intentions into lasting habits.
Habits are a very clever trick of the brain to help us save energy by automating tasks. It’s kind of the reason why we look both left and right before we cross the street and why we lock up the door behind Us when we leave, or why we brush our teeth just before we go to bed.
These are things that we usually don’t even notice that we’re doing because when habits are really entrenched. Lets us live a large part of our lives on Autopilot and that frees up so much mental energy for all these other things that we can do instead of planning and procrastinating.
But if you ever tried implementing a new habit, you might realize it’s really hard to make it stick. So today I wanted to discuss some tools and techniques that we can use to make sure that we implement our
habits in an effective and sustainable way.
The actions that we perform as part of our habits tend to be pretty small but because we repeat them Over and over again their effect really adds up and so we can have a really profound impact on our lives. for example that we get in the habit of cleaning up our desk once we’re done working. This might set us up for starting the next day free of any distractions and as a result, we might be slightly more productive the next day. Even though the immediate Effect might seem insignificant. But if we do this every single day over the course of a year, It could mean a huge productivity boost. On the flip side, a messy desk full of distractions might decrease our productivity, when looking back over the long term. This is why it’s so important to make sure that we set up our habits for Success because then we can just let time do all of the hard work for us.
There is a quote in the book Atomic Habits that “good habits Make time your ally, bad habits make time your enemy”.
Sometimes we are told that we have to Come up with really big goals for ourselves. For Instance, I want to run a half marathon By the end of the year. And if we focus on outcomes like this we sometimes get temporary achievements, which is great. And that might take the box. But if we actually want to fundamentally change our behavior. It’s more effective if we focus on our desired Identity Instead.
For example, saying I want to become a great runner Instead of “I want to run a half marathon “. It’s all about focusing on value rather than the goal.
Once we’ve decided what kind of person we want to be We can then start building the habits that form this identity.
And to know what those habits are We just kind of need to ask ourselves. Like what would this person do? What would a great runner do?
we might come up with things like a good runner would probably eat well. Or he must implement a recovery routine or stretch frequently.
Once we’ve established What identity-forming habits are, we need to implement them.
It’s really important to make sure that we repeat these habits over and over again. And to do this we can implement these following five techniques.
habits are extremely powerful because their effects tend to add up over time. And we can actively shape our habits by making sure that we repeat them again and again and to make sure that we keep at it. It really helps if we can be very specific about our intentions. This includes knowing when, where, how often and these are things that we can write down.
Another strategy that I find really works is if we pair the new habit we want to build with an existing Habit something we already do.
for example when I wanted to start to make a habit out of journaling. I told myself what I do that every evening at my desk after I had brushed my teeth. By linking the new habit of journaling with my existing habit, Which was brushing my teeth. It made the time in place very specific and that made it a lot easier for me to follow up on my intentions.
If we can adopt a positive mindset. A really powerful way to create a positive mindset is just by using some positive language in our internal dialogue.
For example the habit we wanna build is to make meals at home more often. Instead of saying I have to make a home-cooked meal tonight. we can just take that word “have” and Switch it with “get” so then, we would be saying I get to make a home-cooked meal tonight. I get to experiment in the kitchen. I get to nourish myself.
So even though the action that we’re gonna be performing in both scenarios is exactly the same. It’s that shift in mindset. That makes all the difference in how pleasurable the experience is going to be.
The third most important idea is If we remove any Obstacles make our habits short and simple so that we can follow through with it. So let’s say, for example, we want to become great photographers. One of the obstacles might be that the battery is always dead. So in this case we can make sure to charge it before we head out.
Maybe putting it by the door so that we remember to take another one with us.
And then once the obstacles are out of the way. We want to make sure that the habit itself isn’t the obstacle and you know that the philosophy is to try to make things simple, short, and sweet. If we make things more complicated than we need to, that can be an obstacle in itself.
For example instead of trying to learn all the camera settings in one go. This is Incredibly overwhelming, we could instead play around with just a single camera setting every time we go out with it.
It’s so much more effective to perform a small action often rather than a perfect action sometimes.
If we can reward ourselves right after we do our desired habit or action. The chances of repeating it are gonna be way higher. Because new habits they tend to reward later and they might not usually feel so good at the moment.
Whereas with bad habits, they tend to feel really good at the moment, but eventually, we pay a price for them. So by rewarding ourselves Directly at the end of our new habit. We’re reinforcing the behavior that we want.
Have a nice cup of tea or your favorite drink Or watch the episode of your favorite season as a reward.
Our environment plays a huge role in the formation of our habits. like if we watch TV on the couch. But then we try to pick up a new reading habit, and we also want to do that on the couch. It might prove to be a little bit difficult sometimes because it can be distracting. But if we were to instead try to read in a different spot altogether then over time this new spot becomes associated with the new habit. Which can then make it easier for us to get into the flow of reading every single time We sit there.
Aside from picking a good location for building a new habit, it’s also really important to make sure that we surround ourselves with the right kind of people. Whether in person or digitally because it’s human nature to kind of adjust our behavior to fit in with a crowd or the people that we surround ourselves with. So if our desired habits are the norm for our surroundings then adopting those habits becomes a lot easier.
By considering these tools good habits can be created easily and then we can let time do the rest of the work for us.