A Shortcut to Forming New Habits

habits wordle

Did you know that 40% of what you do throughout the day is based on your habits.  This was found in a study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.  

This confirms what Aristotle knew thousands of years ago.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Whether you are successful or not in establishing a new habit or getting rid of an old habit will depend on how important it is to you.  

If you find it important enough, you will find a way, if you don’t you will find an excuse.

This, in a nutshell, is the driver of most of our actions.  You want to workout but you have not made exercising important enough.  Instead you value free time, relaxing or being lazy more.  That is why you are never able to establish a consistent workout routine.  You want to quit smoking but you haven’t because it’s not important enough to you yet.  Instead you value the feeling of smoking that cigarette more than quitting.  You want to be wealthy but you are not, that is because being wealthy is not important enough to you.  Instead you likely value consumerism more, buying the newest clothes, cars, or technology or maybe you value your free time so you refuse to commit and work long hours to help you earn more income.

However, you cannot just say, okay, I now make working out the most important thing. That wouldn’t work.  In order to elevate the importance of what you want, you must understand how the brain functions.

Think about how you get an idea into long term memory.  The more you can associate that idea with other ideas, the easier it is to embed that idea into your long term memory.  We are going to use that same formula to elevate the importance of your desired behavior/habit.  

To elevate the importance of a belief or new behavior, you need to associate the desired behavior with other areas of life that you already value.

Don’t worry, I am going to give you some specific examples but first I want to provide you with the framework.

  1. Identify what you want to achieve.
  2. Identify the different areas of your life that will benefit if you achieve this.
  3. Identify what will happen to your life and the loved ones around you if you don’t make a change
  4. Tie it all together.  Link how achieving this will move you closer to your ultimate purpose in life.

Applying the Framework

This really is one of the most important breakthroughs that I have come across so I want to provide some specific examples to illustrate the process for you.

Step 1.   Identify what you want to achieve.

I want to exercise consistently.  Try to be specific and speak in action.  I would write it as I want to exercise a minimum of 4 days each week.  

Step 2.   Identify the different areas of your life that will benefit if you achieve this.

Health – I will feel better.  I will be stronger and my body will better be able to deal with pressure, stress and anxiety.  I will have more energy and my immune system will be stronger.  I will increase the blood flow throughout my body and my brain will get stronger.  

Family/Loved Ones – I will be able to manage my stress better and increase the quality of time I am able to spend with my family.  Exercising will help release pent up stress and anxieties.  I will feel better about myself which will make me happier around my family.  I will look better and become more attractive to my significant other or my future significant other.  

Personal Development – I will feel more confident.  I will know that I am able to build new habits.  I can do anything that I put my mind to.  Now that I have been able to make working out a part of my daily habits, I can continue to grow and add other disciplines to help improve my life.  Exercising allows me to push through my self-imposed thresholds on a weekly basis.  My belief in self will continue to grow and I will have the courage to take risks in life and create the life I have always dreamed about.  

Career – I will better handle stress and anxiety.  I won’t get flustered as easy.  My new found strength and confidence will allow me to be a better asset.  I will learn more, work better under pressure.

Relationships – I will be more confident in all of my relationships.  I will feel better about myself which in turn will allow me to be a positive influence among friends, family and co-workers.  

Step 3.   Identify what will happen to your life if you don’t make the change.

I will let my body go.  I will experience more stress and anxiety in my body which will make me more irritable.  I will be more likely to get sick and suffer from the impact of aging.  I will limit my personal growth.  If something is difficult or if I don’t want to do something, then I won’t.  I will have strengthened that inner voice that only wants to do what “feels good” and I will never know what my potential is.  I will find excuses and reasons for not doing things because I don’t feel like doing them.  I will be physically weak.  I will not have as much energy.

Step 4.  Tie it all together.  Link how achieving this will move you closer to your ultimate purpose in life.

Consistently exercising is in direct alignment with my purpose of helping others achieve their potential.  By mastering the discipline of exercising consistently, I will be authentic when coaching and helping others.  My word will mean something.  I will practice what I preach. I will be more confident and will grow faster.  I will be stronger and able to handle situations better.

Summary

Remember, the idea is to layer and associate what you want to achieve with other areas in your life to increase its importance.  Once it becomes important enough, the action will be easy and will require less motivation and willpower.  Once you have done the exercise, you need to make it a habit to remind yourself of this every night before bed.  

To drastically improve your chances of success, I would do the above exercise each morning for whatever you want to achieve.  Just spend a few minutes writing out a summary of it in the morning (5 minutes) and then review it at night.  Don’t simply copy it onto paper, literally start with a blank page and recreate the entire exercise from scratch each morning.  This will keep it fresh on your mind but more importantly, this will strengthen the connections in your brain making it easier for the habit to form and take hold.  

 

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