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
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
eople that start out too ambitious and quit; you will also develop into a more disciplined and motivated person. Every time you exercise, you are reinforcing the habit and casting another vote for the type of person who exercises regularly. Every workout is another small win that contributes to your self-esteem. Sustained motivation is born of sustained action. It is a huge mistake to believe motivation must proceed action. The reverse is true. First, we must produce a small win, activate our reward system, flood our body with dopamine – then we will feel motivated to do more. This is the reason crossing-off an item on our to-do list makes us feel fantastic. Progress equals happiness. Nothing motivates us better than progress. When you start creating an unbroken chain of X’s in your habit tracker, your motivation is going to soar. You are not going to want to see your perfect streak end. If you make your scorecard public, you will be even more motivated to keep your streak alive. The more you do, the more you will want to do. Continue reading Two Potent Strategies for Behavior Change