Hello Zen Organizer,
In this week's episode, I talk about how to build good habits (and break bad ones) with confidence coach Koen Meijer.
Habits are a fascinating topic. I believe that our habits define who we are and are the deal breakers in our successes (or failures). That's why it's very important to be aware of our habits and make sure we are consistent with our good ones!
“Success is the product of daily habits — not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
- James Clear
(If you want to learn how to implement good habits consistently and effectively, I highly recommend reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Many of the tips and techniques Koen and I talked about during this episode come from this amazing book!)
So without further ado, let's dive into the tips and techniques that can help you implement good habits and/or break bad ones!
The Four Laws of Habits
If you want to easily implement a new habit, follow these four rules:
1. Make it obvious
When you start a new habit, it's easy to forget about it, so make sure you place visual cues that remind you of it.
For example, if you want to go for a run first thing in the morning, put your work out clothes and your running shoes right next to your bed. If you want to journal before going to bed, put your journal besides it. If you want to eat more fruit, place a variety of fruit on your countertop.
2. Make it attractive
Your habits have to be pleasurable if you want them to stick. And if the habit in itself isn't pleasurable, you can pair it with another activity that is.
For example, make your workout more fun by listening to your favorite music or watching a movies/series while you do it.
3. Make it easy
The easier it is to perform your habit, the easier it will be to stick to it in the long run. Think about all the little (or big) obstacles that could prevent you from doing it and try to remove them as much as possible.
For example, if you want to go to the gym after work, make sure you pack your gym bag the night before and bring it with you at work to avoid having to go back home to get it. Also, choose a gym that is on your way so you don't have to do some detours.
4. Make it satisfying
We like what makes us feel satisfied and rewarded. So make sure the completion of the habit is followed by some kind of reward. It can be an actual reward (like eating something you like) or it can simply be the feeling of satisfaction you get from ticking your habit on your habit tracker!
Habit Stacking: an Easy Technique to Implement a New Habit in Your Routine
Habit stacking is one of the most useful methods to implement a new habit because it takes advantage of your established habits.
It consists of performing your new habit before or after a habit you already have. Use a cue that's similar or done in the same space as the new habit (Clear, 2018). Otherwise, this method won't be effective.
For example, if you want to journal in the morning, you could include this habit in your morning routine, right after drinking your coffee (both actions are performed in the kitchen).
If you want to floss daily, the most obvious cue is right after you brush your teeth, since both habits are similar and are performed in the same room.
A Simple Tip to Maintain Consistency
In the episode, I talk about one of my personal favorite tips to maintain consistency when I implement a new habit: I establish three levels of accomplishment or difficulty for each habit:
Level 1 corresponds to the habit you want to implement. Try to reach this level on most days.
Level 2 is a bit less demanding than level 1. Use this level when you have less time or when your motivation is dwindling.
Level 3 corresponds to the minimal time/repetition/effort possible of your habit. Use it when you're thinking about not doing it at all.
For example, if you want to meditate for 15 minutes every day, you could have these three levels:
Level 1: meditate for 15 minutes. Strive to reach this level on most days.
Level 2: meditate for 5 minutes. Use this level when you have less time or when your motivation is dwindling.
Level 3: meditate for 1 minute. It's the level for the days when you're thinking about not doing it at all.
Consistency is crucial to maintain a habit in the long term.
Missing just one day might not seem like a big deal, but it sends the message to your brain that it's not a problem to skip on your habits. And this is the first step to abandoning your good habits...
So even if you're tired, even if you lack motivation, even if you're on holiday, make sure you maintain your habits every day, even if it's just for the minimal time/amount possible! Remember that one is always better than zero!
The Power of Habit Tracking
A habit tracker is a great tool to make sure you stick to your habits.
It's very simple: every time you complete your habit, you write it down in your tracker. This way, you have an accurate picture of your consistency. Since we tend to overestimate how good we are at doing our habits, keeping track of them helps you see how consistent you really are! 😉
Plus, the act of ticking a box when you've completed the habit is so satisfying and rewarding in itself. It gives a great motivation boost to keep you going (see the law "Make it satisfying")!
In the free workbook "5 Easy Steps To Achieve your goals", you can find more tips as well as a habit tracker to help you implement new habits easily and effectively!
How to Break a Bad Habit
The beauty of these four laws is that they can be inverted to help you break a bad habit. You basically have to do all of the contrary of what you'd do to implement a good habit:
1. Make it invisible
2. Make it unattractive
3. Make it difficult
4. Make it unsatisfying
I hope these tips and techniques will help you implement your good habits easily and consistently. Remember that small daily habits have way more impact than big transformations. Your habits define who you are, so make sure they represent who you want to be!
As always, I wish you a zenly organized week,
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits. Random House Business: New York, NY.