I think it’s safe to assume we’ve all tried to build (or break) at least one habit in our life, whether we’ve been trying to loose weight or stop biting our nails and so we all know how tough it is to do. Which is why the internet is saturated with advice, most of which I’ve found to be a little lacklustre, but James Clear’s book Atomic Habits provides simple, approachable and actionable steps which ensures you won’t fail.
Make it obvious:
The first way in which you can build a good habit is through re-designing your environment. For example, a person’s bedroom is usually where they sleep, watch Netflix and listen to music etc. Which is why, trying to study in the same room isn’t a good idea because you’ve associated your bedroom with relaxation. I think a lot of University students fall into this trap because their bedroom is their only private space, but I promise you, getting out and going to A library will do you so much good.
Make it attractive:
People are much more likely to want to do something, if the people around them want to do, or are doing it to. My friend recently became an outdoor activities instructor, so he took us rock climbing one day and half way up the wall I froze. I asked my friend if he’d lower me down, but he said no (tough love baby) and after standing stationary on that wall for a while I racked up the nerve to climb to the top. I was so scared, I was in a cold sweat and it’s safe to say I did not enjoy that climb. However, I went back to the climbing centre again and again because I really enjoyed going with my friends and now I really enjoy it (even though I’m still afraid). So, if you’re looking to start something new, grab a friend, or join a club and it’ll become a lot more attractive.
Make it easy:
Another way in which you can design your environment is by leaving prompts for yourself. Let’s say, you want to start going to the gym every other day and so on those days before you take a shower leave your gym clothes on your pillow. The power of putting on your gym clothes is larger than you think, it’s half the battle and once most people have put them on it’s much more likely that they will go.
Make it satisfying:
I used to think that people were naturally born with the drive to read everyday, or start their own company, but realistically they’re not. No one prefers running a marathon, over binge watching their favourite Netflix show, not at first anyway. Which is why, it’s essential to build temptation, pair an habit you’d like to build with an activity you want to do. For example, a reward for going to the gym could be picking up a latte afterwards. Eventually, after your habit becomes a routine you won’t need the latte as much, so don’t feel guilty.
The two-minute rule:
The two-minute rule is where you downscale your desired habit until it can be done in two-minutes. James Clear used the example of a guy who wanted to go the gym, so for a while he literally just went to the gym to do a couple of minutes of work and then left. A waste of time? Actually no, because he created the habit of going to the gym and that’s the struggle.The first few times he went to the gym, he would’ve been motivated by the fact he didn’t have to do very much, but after a while of gradually increasing the time he was there it turned into an entire workout.
The key to building (or breaking) a habit is simply showing up. In all honesty, I wasn’t in the mood to write this article today, but I did because I didn’t want to let myself, my readers and my previous efforts down. I admittedly could’ve written this article better on a different day, but it’s done and I’m happy I did it. Which is why, I’m now going to watch a trashy teen movie and order a takeaway.
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