New Year’s Resolutions – Why Wait?

Our desire for a fresh start causes us to waste a lot of time waiting.  Why wait for a new year, a new month, or a new week. Tomorrow is a new beginning. Why not PLAN today – START tomorrow – and NEVER quit! A lot of people will tell us to start NOW, which isn’t bad advice if you are prone to procrastination, but research has shown that we do better when we have a plan. Research on implementation intentions suggests we will be much more likely to follow through if we have a plan. Planning can be exciting, but don’t let it turn into a form of procrastination. 

If you have a strong desire to implement a new habit, put that motivation to good use by planning when you’ll implement the new habit. Motivation not put to work is like water spilling from a leaky damn instead of being put to work by the mill. Motivation gets us started, but without a plan, we will quickly wander off course. Create an implementation intention. Decide when and where you are going to begin. Develop if-then plans. For example, your implementation intention could be to exercise for 20-minutes each morning right after waking up and drinking a glass of water. You prepare by laying your clothing out the night before and deciding what kind of exercise you are going to do. If 20-minutes feels like too much, you can start with a 5-minute commitment. Your if-then plan could be, if I oversleep or somehow miss my workout, I will exercise as soon as I get home from work. Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions – Why Wait?

REVERSE THE 5-MINUTE RULE TO BREAK A BAD HABIT

Even if you decide to give in to the temptation at the end of the five minutes, you have strengthened your willpower and increased your awareness of the behavior. Both benefits will improve your odds of success when the next temptation arises. The worst thing we can do is become overly critical of ourselves because that will lead to stress eating, more about that later.         Continue reading REVERSE THE 5-MINUTE RULE TO BREAK A BAD HABIT

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

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

A Practical Framework for Behavior Change

He reverses these four laws to break a bad habit.  Make the Cue invisible, the Reward unattractive, the Routine harder to execute, and the Reward unsatisfying. He does a fantastic job of providing practical suggestions on how to accomplish each law.[i] James Clear’s book complements Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. The Power of Habit helps us to understand habits, but it isn’t a manual for behavior change. Atomic Habits fulfills that role, providing actionable strategies in a simple to follow format. This book has an even narrower focus. It seeks to combine the strategies of behavior change with tactics designed to produce a leaner fitter body. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu Continue reading A Practical Framework for Behavior Change