“I have the bad habit of….” or “I wish I had the habit of…..” or “Ugh, I shouldn’t do this, it’s such a bad habit…”
|This is a great podcast in general! Check it out.|
I am fascinated by the topic of habit formation and have read a few books on it lately. A few weeks ago I listened to a great podcast episode on the podcast “Beyond the To-Do List” where the host Erik Fisher interviewed James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones.
Listen here, on Erik’s website or find the podcast in your Podcast app, episode #320 “James Clear on Building Good Habits and Breaking Bad Ones”.
I would highly recommend checking out this episode for the full details, but I have been wanting to share a few highlights that stood out to me! I listened to this a few weeks ago while cleaning out my storage room. Thinking about habits in a more objective, psychological way is SO interesting to me and I kept stopping to take notes!
1. With bad habits, the immediate outcome is good, long term outcome is bad. With good habits, it is the reverse: immediate outcome is bad, long term outcome is good.
(i.e. Eat a donut- tastes good, but long term outcome if we eat one every day = weight gain, being unhealthy. Exercise- at first feels hard/painful/ no visible change. Over time = we lose weight, have better cholesterol.)
2. Our brains are usually trying to “solve a problem” and various habits are the “solutions” to those problems.
Ex. We get home from work and feel stressed/ exhausted = a problem we need to solve. Various “solutions” to this “problem” might be:
-playing video games
-smoking a cigarette
-going for a walk outside
There are many different solutions to the same problem. The first “solution” is not the only one. It can help to try to determine what actual problem we are trying solve when we feel a craving to do a “bad habit” and try some of the alternative solutions instead.
3. Identity Based Habits are one of the best ways to adhere to a new habit or program. (I love this concept! This was my favorite part!)
Basically, the gist of it is that if you only focus on the outcome (i.e. “I want to make my bed everyday”) it can be very hard to stick to it.
Instead, think of it in terms of who you want to become. In the bed example, this person may want to “be a person who is clean and organized”.
Every time you complete an action, it helps you to embody the identity of someone who does those things. He describes it as “casting a vote for the kind of person you believe you are.”
-Every time I sit down to write, I embody the identity of someone who is a writer.
-Every time I go to the gym, I embody the identity of someone who is fit.
-Every time I meditate, I embody the identity of being a meditator.
He explains there is a powerful difference in saying “I want this” versus “I am this.”
I am a runner.
I am a writer.
I am an organized person.
A real “runner” doesn’t really have to spend too much time focusing on pursuing the habit of running, because he is a runner. Runners run! A writer doesn’t have to think about it every day, because writers just write each morning!
Every time you complete small habits (like, waking up early), you cast these votes to yourself that then create evidence for your brain that you are simply “an early riser.” You can say, “Hmm, I have gotten up at 5 am for 2 months now. I guess I’m just an early riser!” and you will be much more likely to continue.
I LOVE THIS!
4. Finally, (there were so many good points, but I need to end this post!), he recommends trying to focus on building in good habits first instead of eliminating bad ones.
He gives the example that if, say, you want to spend less time on your phone watching You Tube videos at night, if you create the habit of going to the gym after dinner, you just naturally will have less time to sit around on your phone. The new good habit may simply “crowd out” the bad one.
Definitely check out this book or the podcast episode! I promise you will learn something!
Read: 10 minutes