Motivation is an ineffective strategy for forming habits. First, it depends on our emotional state. Emotions are difficult to regulate, and consistency is an absolute necessity for habit formation. Repetition is the language of our basal ganglia, where all habits reside. Another reason motivation is a terrible strategy for developing habits is that it decreases over time. We don’t build motivation through repetition; we dilute it. Continue reading Motivation is an Ineffective Habit-Forming Strategy
If you read for five minutes each day, you would read approximately ten books a year. That is more than double the median number of the books the average American read last year. That is ten more books than the 27% of Americans who admitted to not reading a single book in the past year.[i] Assuming you were never motivated to read more than five minutes each day, in ten years, you would still have read 100 books and amassed a small library. Every time you looked at your library, you could take pride in the knowledge that you have read all the books in it – and all it took was a five-minute a day commitment. Continue reading Accomplish More with Mini Habits
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
These gateway habits put your day on a positive or negative trajectory. Some gateway habits, like going to bed at a consistent time to get adequate sleep, will shape the day to come. Mastering these moments is crucial. I suggest you keep the initial action as small and easy as possible to execute. Some of these actions can even be automated. You can program your internet router to shut off at a specific time each night to avoid late-night TV. You could also set-up a phone alarm as a primary or secondary reminder to go to bed, so you’ll get at least seven and a half hours of restful sleep each night. Your bedtime ritual can be as simple as putting your phone in its charger, brushing your teeth, and putting your head on the pillow. Continue reading What is a Gateway 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