REPETITION DOESN’T BUILD MOTIVATION – IT DILUTES IT

“We are not the problem. Our approach to change is. It’s a design flaw – not a personal flaw.” BJ Fogg

When we fail to create a habit, we blame ourselves for being lazy and unmotivated. It seems reasonable. If we were motivated, we’d do what we had planned to do? True, but motivation is an ineffective habit-forming strategy for two reasons. First, it depends on our emotional state. Emotions are difficult to regulate. Habits require consistency. Another reason motivation is a terrible strategy for developing habits is that it decreases over time. Continue reading REPETITION DOESN’T BUILD MOTIVATION – IT DILUTES IT

EXERCISE IS A KEYSTONE HABIT

“If it’s important, do it every day. If it isn’t, don’t do it at all.” – Dan Gable Olympic wrestling champion

I usually suggest people begin their fat loss journey with daily exercise. Not because I think it is the most effective at reducing body weight. It isn’t, but because daily exercise is a keystone habit that leads to a host of other good habits. Australian researchers Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng found that regular exercise leads to significant improvements in a wide range of regulatory behaviors such as less impulsive spending; better dietary habits; decreased alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine consumption; and fewer hours watching TV.[i]

Exercise is more about feeling good than looking good. People that exercise regularly are much less likely to suffer from depression or other psychological ailments. John J. Ratey, MD  Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin because, like the drugs, exercise elevates these neurotransmitters. He says it’s a handy metaphor, but the deeper explanation is that exercise balances neurotransmitters — along with the rest of the neurochemicals in the brain.

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SMALL COMMITMENTS – BIG RESULTS

“The easier a behavior is to do, the more likely the behavior will become a habit.” BJ Fogg

It is counterintuitive, but small commitments are better than large ones. That’s because they are easier to keep. This fact is as valuable as it is obvious. When we shrink the commitment, we increase our odds of success. If we are overly ambitious with our commitment, we’ll ace our chances of forming a habit. Big obligations cause inconsistency. We aren’t always going to have enough time, willpower, or motivation to meet the commitment. Inconsistency is a habit killer. If we aren’t consistent, then it isn’t a habit.

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REVERSE THE 5-MINUTE RULE TO BREAK A BAD HABIT

“one way to motivate a switch is to shrink the change, which makes people feel “big” relative to the challenge.” ― Chip Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

While shrinking the commitment is primarily used to start good habits, it can also be a tool to break bad ones. To break a bad habit, we use it as a delaying strategy. We can avoid overeating by delaying our consumption. Say to yourself, “I am going to drink a glass of water and wait for 5-minutes. If I am still hungry, I can have a little more.” Physiologically, you are giving your body more time to register that it is full and hydrated. Psychologically, you are making the reward less desirable.

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GATEWAY HABITS & DECISION POINTS

“I begin each day of my life with a ritual. 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.” Twyla Tharp

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