ENVIRONMENT TRUMPS WILLPOWER

“Environment is of supreme importance. It is greater than willpower.” Paramahansa Yogananda

Motivation and willpower are valuable qualities, but they are too capricious to build habits. Any habit-forming strategy that relies too heavily on either is like trying to build a house on shifting sand.

A properly designed environment is a rock-solid foundation for behavior change. That’s because once we engineer our environment, it remains constant. It provides the stability that habits require to flourish. Environmental prompts initiate most of our habits, which is why environmental design is so powerful.

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TWEAK YOUR ENVIRONMENT – BETTER ENVIRONMENT BETTER BEHAVIOR

“You don’t have to be the victim of your environment. You can also be the architect of it.” James Clear

“Man is largely a creature of habit, and many of his activities are more or less automatic reflexes from the stimuli of his environment.” G. Stanley Hall

Change agents frequently find that what appears to be a people problem is a situation problem. Instead of trying to change people’s attitudes, they tweak the environment and make change happen painlessly. Instead of relying on workers following proper procedures, safety engineers install guards and controls to prevent workers from taking shortcuts. They know that it’s easier to tweak the environment than to force compliance. We can likewise tweak our own environment to foster good habits and discourage bad ones. 

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FIVE RULES FOR BEHAVIOR CHANGE

The Four Laws of Behavior Change developed by Atomic Habits’ author James Clear is designed to encourage good habits by reinforcing each component of the habit loop:

Cue: Make it Obvious
Craving: Make it Attractive
Routine: Make it Easy
Reward: Make it Satisfying

He reverses these four laws to break a bad habit. Make the Cue invisible, the Reward unattractive, the Routine harder to do, and the Reward unsatisfying. He does a fantastic job of providing practical suggestions for changing your habits.[i] James Clear’s book complements Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. The Power of Habit helps us understand habits, but it isn’t a manual for behavior change. Atomic Habits answers that need. I have a narrower focus; combining behavioral science with exercise science to transform your body. Continue reading FIVE RULES FOR BEHAVIOR CHANGE

WHY HABITS CAN BE DIFFICULT TO CHANGE – BUT DON’T HAVE TO BE

“Most people are in favor of change, as long as they can continue to do things the same as they always have.”

-Bill Phillips

What you are going to learn:

  1. Why Habits are so powerful and potentially dangerous
  2. The four components of the habit loop
  3. How a better understanding of habits can help us improve them
  4. Why it is a mistake to blame our willpower

Change is difficult, but we are all capable of change. Our lives are continually changing, learning to drive, marriage, babies, new job responsibilities, and new technological tools. Initiation is the most challenging phase because it is mentally exhausting. Learning a new skill requires our cerebral cortex to do the heavy lifting, but as the new task becomes routine, the more resilient basal ganglia take over. The action becomes easier and easier. Our conscious brain goes on autopilot, and our actions flow. You undoubtedly experienced this when you were learning to drive. In the beginning, it required your total concentration, but now you can drive, adjust the cabin temperature, tune the radio, and carry on a conversation.

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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