This Is How To Make Good Habits Stick We all want to get to the gym, be more productive, be kinder to our loved ones… and then we don’t do it. Why? Well, building solid personal habits can be hard. In fact, research shows it takes an average of 66 days to build a new good habit. From Oliver Burkeman’s Help! On average, her subjects, who were trying to learn new habits such as eating fruit daily or going jogging, took a depressing 66 days before reporting that the behaviour had become unchangingly automatic. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. For instance, wouldn’t it be nice if you could build three good habits for the price of one? Actually, research says you can… 1) Start With “Keystone Habits” Exercising isn’t just good for you. When I spoke to Charles Duhigg, author of the excellent book “The Power of Habit“, he explained that exercise leads people to unknowingly create other, often unrelated, good habits. It makes you eat better. So maybe you already exercise. Keystone habits change how you see yourself. Wrong… Sum Up
Sun Tzu: How to Use Military Strategy to Build Better Habits Sun Tzu was a legendary military strategist in ancient China and he is the author of the famous book, The Art of War. He was a master of “soft power” and the father of “agile warfare.” Whenever possible, he preferred to win without fighting or, at the very least, to win the easiest battles first. He wrote, “In war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won.” The teachings of Sun Tzu extend far beyond the field of battle because they are focused on finding the easiest way to achieve a specific goal. Let’s talk about how to apply military strategy to our daily lives. The Battle for Better Habits Too often, we try to build new habits, achieve big goals, and otherwise “win at life” through sheer force. For example: And when we fall off course and fail to achieve our goals, we blame ourselves for “not wanting it badly enough” and for not having enough willpower. Good military leaders start by winning easy battles and improving their position. Example 1: Read Next
The Interpersonal Neurobiology Behind Making Habits Stick Most of us walk around in this world in a trance with the delusional belief that we are only autonomous beings that are completely acting with free will. However, many scientists agree that we are interdependent with our environments and our brains are constantly making snap judgments based on internal and external cues. You have recall this quote by Albert Einstein: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. The notion of willpower, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, or manning up fails to take the psychological and scientific realities into mind. Years ago, UC Berkeley Researcher Marian Diamond conducted a study where she randomly put mice in a few different cages.
How to Hack Your Habits You know how it goes when you get triggered. Something happens, and before you know it, you are hooked! Pulled into an auto-pilot repertoire of thinking and behaving, which inevitably leads to a less than ideal outcome. We are all prone to this automaticity because the mind-body system is hardwired for habit formation. 1.The action or mode of thinking is rewarding in that it either increases pleasure or reduces discomfort. 2. Habits as Subtle Addictions. Of course, some forms of auto-pilot are more obvious. Your more subtle habits can sneak up on you as insidious efforts to reduce discomfort, and derail you from your goals and values. Gaining Access to the Data. The modern definition of ‘hack’ is to “use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system.” Learn to read the Dashboard of your Mind-Body Vehicle You know how sometimes you can loose your cool, or do something you later regret, and then wonder, “Why the heck did I do that?” Learning to Read the Dashboard.
Starting The Fire (Of Motivation) In his best-selling book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Achor writes, “In physics, activation energy is the initial spark needed to catalyze a reaction. The same energy, both physical and mental, is needed of people to overcome inertia and kickstart a positive habit” (Achor, 2011). Achor goes on to describe what he calls the “20 Second Rule” which states that a mere 20 seconds often makes all the difference in whether or not we will take action. When preparing for that action takes more than 20 seconds, the energy needed to start the action (activation energy) often overwhelms us and we remain stagnant. On the other hand, when the activation energy is less than 20 seconds, taking action seems much easier. So to take action, we start with lowering the activation energy. Photo by BoredWithACamera Starting The Fire (Of Motivation)
5 Common Mistakes That Cause New Habits to Fail (and What to Do About Them) Welcome to 2015. It’s New Year’s Resolution time. Depending on where you get your numbers, somewhere between 81 percent and 92 percent of New Years Resolutions fail.  Translation: At least 8 times out of 10, you are more likely to fall back into your old habits and patterns than you are to stick with a new behavior. Behavior change is hard. Why is that? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but after two years of researching and writing about the science of behavior change, let me share the most practical insights I’ve learned so far. PROBLEM 1: Trying to Change Everything at Once SOLUTION: Pick one thing and do it well. The general consensus among behavior change researchers is that you should focus on changing a very small number of habits at the same time. The highest number you’ll find is changing three habits at once and that suggestion comes from BJ Fogg at Stanford University. How tiny? Personally, I prefer to focus on building one new behavior into my life at a time.
The 5 Ways to Trigger a New Habit In his best-selling book, The Power of Habit (audiobook), author Charles Duhigg explains a simple three-step process that all habits follow. This cycle, known as The Habit Loop, says that each habit consists of… The Trigger: the event that starts the habit.The Routine: the behavior that you perform, the habit itself.The Reward: the benefit that is associated with the behavior. The image below shows how these three factors work together to build new habits.  Each phase of the loop is important for building new habits, but today I’d like to discuss the first factor: habit triggers. There are five primary ways that a new habit can be triggered. Trigger 1: Time Time is perhaps the most common way to trigger a new habit. There are also less commonly recognized ways that time triggers our behavior. If these patterns are bad habits, then you may want to take stock of how you feel at this time of day. How I use it: Time-based triggers can also be used to stick with routines over and over again.
The Smart Way to Stick to Habits By Leo Babauta Sticking to a new habit isn’t easy — but if you set up your habit change smartly, you can make it stick. Starting a new habit isn’t too hard — we often get excited about starting an exercise plan or diet or waking up early, for example. But a number of obstacles get in the way of sticking to the habit long enough for it to become automatic. Here are the usual obstacles: You lose enthusiasm: Probably the No. 1 reason people fail is that the enthusiasm they feel when they first start the habit, when they’re fantasizing about how great it’ll be, fades away after a few days or a week. Let’s figure out a smart system that gets around these obstacles. Addressing Each Obstacle Let’s address each obstacle one by one, before putting it all together into one system: Enthusiasm: The answer to this is making a big commitment. Let’s take these elements and combine them into a smart system for sticking to habits. The Smart Habit System So let’s put our best practices together: Start small.
How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. Understanding how to build new habits (and how your current ones work) is essential for making progress in your health, your happiness, and your life in general. But there can be a lot of information out there and most of it isn't very simple to digest. To solve this problem and break things down in a very simple manner, I have created this strategy guide for building new habits that actually stick. Even more detailed information is available in my free guide, Transform Your Habits, but the basic principles mentioned in this article will be more than enough to get you going. 1. Make it so easy you can't say no. When most people struggle to stick with a new habit, they say something like, “I just need more motivation.” This is the wrong approach. Solve this problem by picking a new habit that is easy enough that you don't need motivation to do it. 2. 3. 4. 5. Read Next
How To Hack Your Habits: Author James Clear Shares His Life-Changing Strategy Admit it: You’ve got a few pesky habits you’d like to kick. Oh, and we know you’ve got big plans for how you’re going to change your ways. But how long have you been saying this without actually springing into action? James Clear, bestselling author, speaker, and continuous improvement guru, suspects the reason you haven’t changed much (despite wanting to), is that you’re going about your habit replacement all wrong. We sat down with James to talk about his theories on adopting positive habits, sticking with them, and why hacking our behavior can make hitting the gym as simple as tying your shoes. Trello: Eliminating poor behavior is daunting, and hard. James: Think about it this way: Every behavior produces multiple outcomes across time. But then you take a good habit, let’s say going to the gym. Often, we make decisions based on the immediate outcome, rather than the ultimate outcome. "That’s why small habits are so meaningful. That’s why small habits are so meaningful. James: Yes!
The Habit Action List By Leo Babauta There are a ton of people who read self-improvement blogs and books, but never put them into action. They engage in what’s sometimes called “self-improvement porn”. I’ve done this myself in the past — it was a form of fantasizing about how I was going to make my life better, get my shit together. But I didn’t take action because: I was too busy right that moment, so I’d bookmark the article for later. Amazingly, I overcame all of that. I figured out how to go from reading about changes, to actually taking action. What works to create action? Is there a small action I can take right now? If I can run through all of these questions, I’ll actually take action on a new change that I’ve read about. What action will you commit to right now?