Habit Forming – Part 1
The topic of forming good habits is brought up in some form or fashion almost every other day. We work close with our members to maximize a healthy lifestyle for each of them. However, we often hear that a lack a motivation is preventing success. When we received an email from a client last week on this very topic, with this exact excuse, we drafted our response and decided to turn it into a podcast episode. Check that out above.
For starters, it is important to define a “habit,” and distinguish how it is different than a routine. We talk a lot about routines on the podcast. We’ve discussed daily routines, productivity routines, morning routine, and nightly routines. How are routines different than habits? For our purposes here, a habit is a single prompted action that occurs on a regular basis almost subconsciously. A routine, is a series of actions put together with a purpose. A routine could be made up of a two or more habits.
In his book, “Tiny Habits,” author BJ Fogg breaks down how to form habits in a manner that makes them stick for a long time. It isn’t enough just to say you want to floss your teeth every day. You are unlikely to stick to it and make it a habit. Instead, Mr. Fogg says you need to change your behavior. Behavior modification requires Motivation, Action, and a Prompt. In other words, B=MAP.
Assuming you now what action to take, and that action is prompted, many of the questions we deal with have to do with motivation. A lack of motivation usually stems from one of two things: an actual lack of desire to do it, or the action seems too daunting.
When a client comes to us with a lack of motivation, we can figure out pretty quickly whether they really want to do it or not. That simply takes a series of “why” questions to determine the purpose behind wanting to form the new habit. Therefore, we spend most of our time figuring out what needs to be done to get the client over the “action threshold.” That is the imaginary line over which you need to move to actually perform an action.
When the action is too daunting, the solution is the reduce the action until it is so easy to do that you can’t avoid it. For example, let’s assume you want to do 100 pushups a day, that’s your new habit. If you are currently doing no pushups a day, it will be almost impossible to form a habit of 100 pushups. You are literally trying to change from 0 to 100. Instead, reduce the number until it’s laughable if you don’t do it. Do you think you can do 1 pushup today? If so, great, do 1. Is that too easy? Then do 5 tomorrow. If that’s no problem, keep going. Once the daily pushups become a habit, you will naturally start doing more.
There are more factors that play into forming good long lasting habits. We will discuss those in future posts and episodes. Stay tuned.