Have you ever procrastinated starting a project because you felt overwhelmed? If you have, you’ve been the victim of subjective fatigue. Beginning a task carries the full weight of the commitment. Our mind looks ahead and calculates the work, which causes us to feel exhausted before we can start. What we think is laziness is often exhaustion. Mini habits are so silly small that they are nearly weightless. Mini habits kill procrastination. They carry almost no subjective fatigue.
Another cognitive bias that acts as an obstacle to starting is called the spotlight effect. Whenever we step outside our comfort zone, our mind magnifies the difficulty of the task. Like subjective fatigue, it causes us to feel overwhelmed. Mini habits don’t raise any cognitive red flags because they are so easy to do. Mini habits circumnavigate these mental roadblocks to starting. Once we begin, we can base our decision to continue on the task’s actual difficulty – not a distorted version of it. As we develop the habit, our perceived difficulty will diminish, not because it has gotten easier, but because we have gotten better. Continue reading MINI HABITS REDUCE OUR NATURAL RESISTANCE TO CHANGE
These gateway habits put your day on a positive or negative trajectory. Some gateway habits, like going to bed at a consistent time to get adequate sleep, will shape the day to come. Mastering these moments is crucial. I suggest you keep the initial action as small and easy as possible to execute. Some of these actions can even be automated. You can program your internet router to shut off at a specific time each night to avoid late-night TV. You could also set-up a phone alarm as a primary or secondary reminder to go to bed, so you’ll get at least seven and a half hours of restful sleep each night. Your bedtime ritual can be as simple as putting your phone in its charger, brushing your teeth, and putting your head on the pillow. Continue reading What is a Gateway Habit?
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
Cues in our environment trigger a response. We need to pre-decided what our new response will be. Our Rider cannot hesitate to guide the Elephant down a new path, instead of performing the well-condition one. We must give our Elephant a new way forward. Instead of telling ourselves not to do something, we need to have an alternative action ready to go. Telling ourselves not to do something, fixates our mind on doing it. When we attempt to suppress a thought, we make things worse. We begin to fixate on it instead. Psychologists call this Ironic Theory. Continue reading The Golden Rule of Habit Change
If you want to change your behavior, you must address the Elephant in the room. In the New York Times bestselling book, The Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, the authors describe the struggle we all face when we want to change our habits. The battle is between the logic-driven part of our brain, the Rider, and the emotion-driven part of our mind, the Elephant.[i] The Rider is weak and prone to overthinking things, becoming overwhelmed by decision fatigue and analysis paralysis. The Elephant, on the other hand, is powerful and instinctive, fueled by emotions and primal urges. The Elephant can easily overwhelm the Rider, especially when he is indecisive. The Path they travel is the external environment. The Rider can influence the Elephant’s behavior by shaping the Path, but he cannot overcome him through brute force. Continue reading Behavior Change – The Elephant in the Room