Shink the Commitment – Build a Habit

One of the greatest dancers and choreographers of the modern era, Twyla Tharp, has spent decades performing to the delight of audiences around the world. She attributes her phenomenal longevity to one simple daily habit. “I begin each day of my life with a ritual,” she writes. “I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirt, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go, I have completed the ritual. It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habituates it—makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.”[i] Instead of focusing on the two-hour workout, she shrinks the commitment to getting into the cab. Once she is in the cab, this gateway habit shapes her next two hours. Continue reading Shink the Commitment – Build a Habit

IDENTITY EMERGES FROM OUR HABITS

Our identity is born of habit. Our beliefs about ourselves emerge from our routines. The behaviors we exhibit repeatedly define our character. The definition and etymology of the words habit and identity provide insights into the relationship between the two. Webster’s definition of a habit is a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition. The word habit is derived from the Latin habitus meaning condition. A habit is, therefore, a conditioned pattern acquired through repetition. The definition of identity is the sameness of character in different instances. Identity derives from the Latin identidem meaning repeatedly, again and again. Later it was abbreviated to idem, meaning sameness. Our identity is our sameness of character in a variety of circumstances.  Continue reading IDENTITY EMERGES FROM OUR HABITS

Different Thinking – Different Results

When people fail to change, they blame their willpower. Willpower is the scapegoat of people that needlessly subject themselves to temptation. No one has enough willpower to subject themselves unnecessarily to temptation. If you examine the environment of disciplined people, you will discover they engineered it to eliminate the need to exert willpower. They don’t have more willpower. They avoid the need to use it.  Willpower is an ineffective change strategy. Shaping the Path, on the other hand, is very effective. Commitment eliminates the need for willpower. When we shape our environment correctly, we discourage bad habits. We remove temptations and make good habits the default by making them easier to do, and bad habits more difficult. The more committed we are to shaping our environment, the less willpower we’ll need. The best way to change your life is by changing something you do each day. Change your habits, change your life! Nothing is stronger than habit. Continue reading Different Thinking – Different Results

Two Potent Strategies for Behavior Change

eople that start out too ambitious and quit; you will also develop into a more disciplined and motivated person. Every time you exercise, you are reinforcing the habit and casting another vote for the type of person who exercises regularly. Every workout is another small win that contributes to your self-esteem. Sustained motivation is born of sustained action. It is a huge mistake to believe motivation must proceed action. The reverse is true. First, we must produce a small win, activate our reward system, flood our body with dopamine – then we will feel motivated to do more. This is the reason crossing-off an item on our to-do list makes us feel fantastic. Progress equals happiness. Nothing motivates us better than progress. When you start creating an unbroken chain of X’s in your habit tracker, your motivation is going to soar. You are not going to want to see your perfect streak end. If you make your scorecard public, you will be even more motivated to keep your streak alive. The more you do, the more you will want to do.  Continue reading Two Potent Strategies for Behavior Change

THE MOTIVATION FALLACY

Motivation isn’t the solution; motivation is the problem. Please, let me explain. The belief that you need motivation to take action is going to prevent you from forming any habits. Motivation isn’t an effective strategy for long-term behavior change for two reasons. Motivation fluctuates from day to day and tends to decrease over time. Habits not only fly under the radar of our conscious brain, but they also fly under the radar of our emotions. Just like we savor the first bite of our meal more than the last, we tend to be less motivated the more times we repeat a routine. Boredom is the biggest obstacle to excellence. A lot of people hit the gym for two or three weeks, then lose their motivation to go and quit. They blame their lack of motivation, but it is their belief that they need to be motivated to go that is the problem. So, if motivation isn’t the solution, what is? Continue reading THE MOTIVATION FALLACY