How to develop good habits quickly
Updated: Nov 4
Existing is difficult and for that reason, I am always hunting down ways to make it a little bit easier. I recently stumbled on Atomic Habits by James Clear and I consider it one of the books you should read in your 20's. In his book, James Clear breaks down how tiny changes go a long way in achieving your goals. This is a book you definitely need to read or listen to: Click the picture below for your FREE Audible trial and get it as a FREE audiobook.
One extra mile may seem small today but when put together over several days, weeks or months, it makes a huge difference. In contrast, one less mile may not seem that big of a deal today, but over several days it will cause a huge determent to your goals.
One more idea or piece of information will not make you a genius but commitment and dedication to continuous learning can transform your life beyond your imagination. Warren Buffet said, “That’s how Knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.” Additionally, books not only teach us new things but also provide new and different ways of thinking about old ideas.
The better you treat people, the better they will treat you. This is simply because people reflect your behaviour back to you. If you need help, help others more. If you need love, love others more. Whatever you need, give it to others and watch it make its way back to you.
Steps to develop good habits
Make it Obvious
The human brain does quite a lot on autopilot such as breathing, pumping blood and digestion. In the same way, you do not have to identify a cue for a habit to begin. This makes habits very useful but at the same time very dangerous since when habits form, they become automatic and unconscious. You need to get a handle on your current habits before you begin to form new ones this is because unless a habit is mindful there’s little to no chance of improving or changing it. Carl Jung said, “until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” A simple way to make your habits more conscious is by pointing and calling that is saying what you are doing when you are doing it. For instance, before you leave the house you could say what you have in hand; I have my keys, my phone and water bottle, to make sure you do not forget anything you will need. Afterwards, you can focus on a new habit. Here are ways to make your habit obvious;
Using time and location as your cues. By setting a precise time and location to implement a certain behaviour, you are more likely to perform the behaviour. For instance, I will work out at 6pm every day at the gym close to work.
By stacking the new habit with a current habit. Habit stacking allows you to create a simple set of rules that will guide your behaviour in the future. For instance, I will clear my desk after I shut down my computer for the night.
By changing your environment to make the cues of good habits stronger. Avoid mixing the context of one habit with another for this will make you mix habits together which it makes it easier to fail. For instance, have a dedicated office space in your room or house to help you concentrate on work when you are there.
Make it attractive
The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely you are to form a habit out of it. In the modern world, we are constantly bombarded with attractive opportunities that are irresistible and in turn form our habits. If you want to increase the chances that you will behave a certain way, you need to make it attractive. Dopamine, also known as the pleasure hormone, is heavily involved in our habits. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act. Dopamine is released both when you experience pleasure and when you anticipate it. Here are ways to make a habit attractive;
By temptation bundling that is, pair an action you need to do with an action you want to do. For instance, if you want to watch a movie but you need to make sales calls, you can make 5 sales calls then watch some minutes of the movie you want.
Join a culture where your desired behaviour is a normal behaviour. This works because we tend to imitate habits that are praised by our culture because we want to fit in. For instance, if you want to work out more, sign up for a gym membership
Make a bad habit unattractive. Our habits are modern day solutions to ancient problems and by highlighting the benefits of avoiding the bad habit, it becomes unattractive. Doing something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit makes doing the habit easier.
Make it Easy
Humans are lazy by nature and thus we gravitate toward an option that requires less energy or work. Motion may seem like you are taking action but you are just preparing to get something done. Planning to do something is just a tip of the iceberg, you have to dedicate your time into actually doing the thing for you to realize results. When you repeat a habit a number of times, it progressively becomes more automatic. Here are ways you can make good habits easy;
Set your environment to be ready for the habit you are trying to uptake. This will reduce the energy it takes to do the good habit. For instance, if you would like to eat healthy, make a bunch of fruit and salad and beforehand and store them in the fridge so that when you feel hungry you already have something to eat.
When you want to start a new habit, it should take two minutes doing it. The first two minutes should be easy to make you stick with the habit. This works since once you start doing the right thing, it is much easier to continue doing it. For instance, if you want to study for a class, you can start by locating your books and opening your notes. By doing this you are more likely to continue reading.
Automate your habits. Invest in technology and one-time purchases that make action in the future easy. This is very helpful for behaviours that happen less frequently. For instance, if you have trouble buying unhealthy food, you could have meal-delivery services do your grocery shopping to prevent you from buying junk food.
Make it satisfying
We are more likely to repeat a habit when it is more satisfying. Pleasure teaches our brains that a certain action or behaviour is worth remembering and repeating. The pain and pleasure principle dictates if we choose to act or not. The first three forms of behaviour change; make it obvious, make it attractive and make it easy increase the chances that a behaviour will be performed while this form; make it satisfying, increases the chances that a behaviour will be repeated. Here are ways to make your habit more satisfying;
Using habit trackers and other forms of measurement. This works because the trackers provide clear evidence of your progress. An example of tracking is moving bobby pins from one jar to another every time you act in your new behaviour.
Have an accountability partner. We care what others think of us and this can help us act accordingly. For example, having an accountability partner to help you work-out will help you avoid missing your work-outs
Make a habit contract. This is a more drastic action for you to avoid failure. A habit contract states the things that will happen when you fail to behave in a certain way. It makes the costs of violating your promises public and painful thus increasing the chances that you will behave in a certain way.