MINI HABITS HAVE A LOW WILLPOWER COST

Mini habits recognize that any new habit is going to take time to develop. We must get our reps in. After we have established a solid foundation, we can build on it. We are often told that we should never try to develop more than one habit at a time. This is great advice. The biggest mistake we can make about our willpower is placing too many simultaneous demands on it. The mental reserve we draw from to exert willpower is severely limited. Fortunately, with mini habits, this singular focus is unnecessary. 

Most of us want to develop multiple new habits. It takes a lot of self-control to focus on just one and ignore the others. The low willpower cost of mini habits means you can build multiple habits at once. They are so small we can create three or four at a time. As we follow through on our mini self-commitments, it will build our willpower and self-esteem.   

Habits not only build our willpower, but they also conserve it. Habits flow, unfettered by conscious thought. We aren’t struggling with a decision. We are reacting to a cue. Habits and environmental design are long-term strategies for conserving willpower. They allow us to avoid making a decision that would erode our willpower through decision fatigue. Instead of making a decision, we encounter a cue and execute a routine.  Continue reading MINI HABITS HAVE A LOW WILLPOWER COST

CHANGE IS DIFFICULT, BUT WITH THE RIGHT STRATEGIES AND A LITTLE MOTIVATION, WE ARE ALL CAPABLE OF GREAT CHANGE

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What you are going to learn:
  1. Why Habits are so Powerful and Potentially Dangerous
  2. The Three Elements of a Habit
  3. How a Better Understanding of Habits can Help Us Replace Bad Habits with Good Ones
  4. A Simple Approach to Overcoming our Natural Resistance to Change
  5. Why We Often Blame our Lack of Willpower when it is usually our Lack of Commitment that is to Blame    

People often say that change is difficult, and they are correct. Change is difficult, but we are all capable of change. Our lives are continually changing, learning to drive, marriage, having children, new job responsibilities, and new technological tools. Initiation is the most challenging phase of any change because when we are learning to perform new tasks, it is mentally exhausting. Learning to perform a new activity requires our cerebral cortex (“Conscious Brain”) to do the heavy lifting.

As the new task becomes routine, the more resilient basal ganglia, (“subconscious brain’), takes over. The action becomes easier and easier to perform. Our conscious brain essentially goes on autopilot, and the actions flow almost effortlessly. You undoubtedly experienced this when you were learning to drive. In the beginning, it required all of your mental focus, but now you can drive, adjust the cabin temperature, tune the radio, carry on a conversation, and heaven forbid, use your smartphone while driving.

Change is possible, but it starts with awareness. The hardest part of creating a change in behavior is just not repeating the behaviors of the past. Approximately 40 to 45% of the decisions we make are out of habit.[i] Unfortunately, these aren’t conscious decisions. These are decisions our conscious brain has delegated to the subconscious brain. Our subconscious mind controls the performance of repetitive daily activities which frees our conscious mind from making countless decisions each day, which would lead to decision fatigue and mental exhaustion. For this reason, we aren’t mindful of actions we have repeated enough times to make them habits.
Continue reading “CHANGE IS DIFFICULT, BUT WITH THE RIGHT STRATEGIES AND A LITTLE MOTIVATION, WE ARE ALL CAPABLE OF GREAT CHANGE”

BECOME A REALISTIC OPTIMIST

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One of the most potent strategies for reaching a goal is to identify the obstacles ahead of time and to develop a plan to address each before they are encountered. We want to be optimistic, but we don’t want to be a naive optimist. The naive optimist ignores the obstacles in their way and believes that they will not confront any challenges while striving to accomplish their goal. The realistic optimist believes in their ability to accomplish their goal despite the obstacles in their way. They acknowledge and prepare for the obstacles which makes them much more likely to achieve their goal. We want to have faith in our ability to overcome obstacles, not naively believe we won’t encounter them.

Research shows that predicting how and when you might be tempted to break a resolution increases the chances that you will keep it.[i]When you are working on developing a daily discipline, ask yourself: “When am I most likely to be tempted to give in? What situation is most likely to get me sidetracked? What excuses will I give myself to procrastinate?” Once you have such a scenario mapped out in your mind, imagine yourself in that situation, what it will feel like, and what you might be thinking?  If we are struggling to form a habit, it shouldn’t be difficult to imagine what situations will cause us to slip off our path, because these situations must have occurred for us to be struggling with forming the habit now. Continue reading “BECOME A REALISTIC OPTIMIST”