The entire whole damn wikipedia on how to make your habits stick
Without wasting much time, here are 17 short ways to create a habit, and stay true to it your entire life. Thank James Clear for making the amazing book called “Atomic Habits”, which is an extraordinary book that you must read to understand the nature of the brain and habits.
What James has done in his book is that he has made four laws, which I will go over below, and list the appropriate things to do under them.
1) Make it obvious
Sometimes, we repeat an activity so many times to the point that it is embedded into our psyche to do these things without much thought. Here’s how you can combat that.
- Whenever you’re wanting to do a good deed, speak it aloud. Say something like “Tomorrow, I will get up early and get working on my meditating skills.”. Awareness makes it easier to recognize what you must do.
- Make a habit scorecard that you must paste in front of your desk. List all the habits you want to do and the date, and get ready to tick them off.
- Reset your implementation intent. It is basically relating to the cue you get and what you do after it. For example, the format is something like “When I feel hungry, I won’t snack on the Nutella on the kitchen countertop.” Even better, keep it specific, something like “When I feel hungry, I will pick up the orange on the dining table.”.
- Stack your habits. Identify an old habit that you do already and stack another new behavior on top of it, meaning, after it. Linking small habits together makes it easier to remember. Also remember to keep your cues highly specific. Another thing that might help you is writing down all the habits you do daily without fail, and then deciding the right habit to serve as a base for stacking.
- Discipline and self control is a sham. At least, that’s what I think the book says. The people with the best self control are the people who use it the least. Whenever you see something, like a nice cake, your mind begins to want that thing. It is called cue-induced wanting. If you want to thwart this in the long run, short term overpowering temptation will not work as well. Hence, cut off the cue entirely. Make it invisible. Throw your phone into the next room when you’re working so that you don’t feel like checking Instagram.
2) Make it attractive
Why do we do habits again? It’s so that we can be better yes, but in the end, it is to feel that amazing feeling, that you now do a hundred pushups per day (true story no flex). The feel good hormone, dopamine plays a huge role in learning habits. It is released only when you get a tangible reward, so that it is as if your brain says “See? Now do that again so that you can feel the same happiness.”
- Combine habit stacking and temptation bundling (which is about the things you want). The formula for this one is, in an example, after I get my morning coffee, I will say one thing I am grateful for. ONLY after that one thing, will I allow myself to watch YouTube for 10 minutes. This strategy helps you pairing the habit with what you want to do and what you need to do.
- Friends and family play a key social role in your habit forming. It is in our blood to be social and to fit in. We imitate the close, the many and the powerful. Hence, adjusting each group of people can make these habits very attractive to you. Surround yourself with like minded people, who also want to do the same habits that you want to nurture in yourself.
- Have you ever wondered why you feel the craving for bad habits? It’s because they are the modern-day solution to ancient desires. They are new versions of old vices. When your habit addresses a deep lack of something, a positive feeling is developed towards that and hence it becomes a habit. So try to fix it at the core.
- Re-frame your habits to show only the benefits, and not the hard, grueling path that you have to take for the habit.
3) Make it easy
We are more likely to repeat a behavior when the experience is satisfying. Feelings of pleasure are signals that tell your brain “This is nice. Do this again, next time.”. Hence we see the benefits of making it easier to achieve, and delivering satisfaction so that you can build a stronger habit later.
- Always take action, even if it is something small. Something is better than nothing. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we ever get around to taking action. The difference between being in motion and taking action is that when you’re in motion, you might be planning, or strategizing but not doing the stuff you are planning to do. Action will always deliver an outcome.
- It is the frequency that makes the difference. Your current habits have been internalized over the course of hundreds of times you have repeated that activity. You need to make few successful attempts to tie it all up and show that it is something that your brain must learn and do daily.
- Pumping up your motivation to stick with a hard habit is pretty hard, so you do the next best thing. You change the environment to reduce the overall friction that your mind has against it. Very often, we start good habits in high friction places, eventually failing. The idea here is to create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as breathing. This is why tidying up feels good. You’re cleaning your environment of clutter, and simultaneously telling your brain that you are a capable person where you do good habits.
- Prime your environment for the next use. If you want to go to the gym early in the morning, pack your gym back with all the things you want the previous night. This reduces the friction and also makes it easier to do the habit, since there is not much else holding you back to do the habit.
- You can also inverse the previous point and make bad habits difficult. You can remove the plug of your game console every time after you use it, so that it is harder to do that the next time you feel the urge. It is worth noting that these can probably not help a true addiction, but for us, it is worthwhile to practice this.
- The major way with how we see habits is that we only see how tough it is, when the only thing we have to do in order to do the habit is to get focused on the now. Why are you worrying about studying that hard chapter in the middle of the textbook, when you haven’t even opened it. Take action, and everything becomes easier. Just think of what you have to do in order to get started.
- The two minute rule helps you make your habits as easy as possible to start. What you want is a gateway habit that will lead you down a more productive path, as I have covered in one of my recent articles. I suggest you check it out (link-https://medium.com/@rkrochan371/the-two-week-plan-that-can-skyrocket-your-productivity-and-well-being-592834285b82). When you start a new habit, it must take less than two minutes to do. You want to master showing up to practice everyday, so that you can build on the fundamentals.
- An inversion of the third law, make it difficult. Make commitment devices that control your actions in the future, that you have made in the past.You can ask your sibling to keep your phone away so that you can study more peacefully. Make it impractical to do, increase the friction so that you can’t even act on it.
If you want to read more real and practical advice from a conventionally small writer, then be sure to follow. My goal is to help people with achieving their dreams and subsequently achieve my own. Thank you for reading this article, and read the ones below if you liked going through this one.
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