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

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Our willpower is severely limited, and every demand for self-restraint draws from a single source. They will look at their list and blame their lack of willpower when they should be blaming their list and their lack of focus. No one has enough willpower for that list. Sometimes a single willpower challenge will feel like one demand too many.

It is easy to blame their failure on a lack of willpower or motivation because if they had an extraordinary amount of either, they could have powered through, but the real culprit was their poor strategy. Anything that is outside of our comfort zone is going to trigger resistance. We want to shrink the commitment so that we only take a tiny step outside our comfort zone – expanding it slightly. Once our Elephant gets comfortable with that, we can encourage him to take additional steps. Our comfort zone will eventually expand. We always want to have enough willpower to keep our habit alive. Shrinking down our commitment ensures we will always be able to do it. These tiny steps aren’t a finish line, they are a starting line. You can always do more when you are motivated to do so, but don’t rely on motivation. Continue reading Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Environmental Design is a Great Substitute for Willpower

Willpower is not an effective long-term strategy for behavior change because it is inconstant. When we are stressed-out, tired, and hungry our willpower will leave us vulnerable to any temptations we encounter. Fortunately for us the more committed we are, the less willpower we will need. Shaping your environment will shield you from temptation.  By removing the temptations that reward bad habits, we can extinguish them without exerting our willpower. It doesn’t require willpower to shape our environment. It requires commitment. Continue reading Environmental Design is a Great Substitute for Willpower

The Right Words are a Powerful Agent of Change

“I don’t miss a workout” is a lot more powerful than “I can’t miss a workout.” ‘I can’t is weak. It connotes an external impediment. The phrase, “I can’t miss a workout” implies you really want to skip your workout, but someone is making you. Even if that someone is you, the phrase lacks commitment. It says to anyone that hears it that you are being forced against your will. It makes us feel like we are losing our autonomy. Even if we are the ones imposing the constraint, it makes us feel like we are less in control. It makes our Elephant feel like it is being bullied by our Rider. This will cause the Elephant to rebel when it has had enough. The Rider will be powerless to stop the two-ton Elephant when this happens. When you say, “I don’t miss workouts,” you are saying that you are the type of person that works out consistently because that is who you are. When a salesman says, they can’t give you a discount you might ask to speak to his manager because the salesman is saying the decision is out of his hands. He would like to provide you with a discount, but his manager or company policy is preventing him. Continue reading The Right Words are a Powerful Agent of Change

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