Systems for Success: Create Habits

Habits. We all have them some good, some bad, some secret, some not so secret.

Whichever they present, the power of the habit is what we want to harness in order to achieve our goals.

What is a habit?

A habit is something that we regularly do, often without actively thinking about it, and, once established, can be difficult to give up.

It is important, therefore, when striving to reach our goals we create habits that will help us to maintain steady progress.

How to Create a Habit

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear says that a good habit can be created by implementing four laws:

  1. Make it obvious – know what you are going to do and when
  2. Make it attractive – you’ve got to want to do it
  3. Make it easy – if you can automate it then do so
  4. Make it satisfying – you’ve got to have some form of reward at the end

In our efforts to become “healthier” we may have determined that we are going to exercise three times per week. However, that doesn’t determine what, when and how we will get into that routine. Following the advice from James Clear, it would look something like this:

  1. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will go to the gym at 5 pm
  2. Every time I go to the gym I will place £1 in a jar towards the purchase I need to make
  3. The gym is on the way home from work. I will pack my bag in the evening and leave it by the door so that there is no chance of me forgetting and missing the gym
  4. When in the gym, I will listen to my favourite podcasts. This will be the only time I will be able to listen.

Bad Habits

Of course, we don’t always want to create good habits, but also get rid of bad habits. In essence, we need to do the opposite of the four laws to create a good habit. Therefore, we want to make it difficult to do them, unattractive, and unsatisfying.

When I was a kid, a number of my friends used a nail polish that had a particularly unpleasant taste. The idea was that it would stop them from biting their nails. The bad habit was being made unattractive.

As adults, we could employ other techniques, such as having false nails or an expensive manicure. It would be difficult to bite the nail under a false one, and the cost of the manicure might be enough to deter making a mess of them. It would also look unsightly after biting a nail that had nail polish on it.

Other ways to eliminate bad habits would be to replace them with a good one. Swap snacking on chocolate with snacking on fruit. Read a book instead of your phone to avoid the rabbit hole of the internet.

The Habit Loop

Of course, all this encompasses what James Clear calls the habit loop. A habit is formed of a cue, which triggers a craving, requiring a response, and leading to a reward that makes the habit desirable.

Good habits are formed, therefore, by keeping this chain intact, with bad habits being able to be broken by reducing or removing one of the elements.

TODAY’S ACTION

Determine what habits you want to add or remove and determine what the cue is or could be for each of these habits.

COME BACK TOMORROW FOR:

Tips on making your action plan fit into your schedule by using calendar blocking.


What habits are you hoping to make or break as part of your goal success story? Where have you struggled in the past? Share in the comments below and maybe we can find a solution.

Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.

Best wishes,


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