Believing you can change is the starting point. Truly wanting to change is the next step, because as we’ll see, this is the big-picture key to significantly changing your life.
Habits are always forming. No matter what you do, you’re also forming habits too. Keep that in mind with whatever you do.
Whether you want to admit it or not, we all do things that are counterproductive, lackadaisical, and a complete waste of time. The funny thing about bad habits, is that even though we know what they are, we still let them happen.
Habits are the brain’s way of helping us by establishing a pattern that neurons can follow. They put us on autopilot. They can be your servants or masters. Most people choose the latter by fostering the bad ones.
There are certain habits and routines that make success easier, regardless of the circumstances you face. In fact, you may already practice some of these habits, even though you are unaware of it right now.
So often we waste our time and energy thinking that we need a monumental effort to achieve anything significant. We tell ourselves that we need to get amped up on motivation and desire. We think that we need to work harder than everyone else.
Sun Tzu was a legendary military strategist in ancient China and he is the author of the famous book, The Art of War. He was a master of “soft power” and the father of “agile warfare.” Whenever possible, he preferred to win without fighting or, at the very least, to win the easiest battles first.
Why is it so hard to form good habits? Why is it so difficult to make consistent change? How can we have the best intentions to become better, and yet still see so little progress?
This strategy is remarkably easy and it is governed by three simple rules. First I'll tell you the three rules. Then, I'll explain how I'm using this strategy and offer some other examples of how you can put these rules into practice.
You probably have very strong habits and connections that you take for granted each day. For example, your brain is probably very efficient at remembering to take a shower each morning or to brew your morning cup of coffee or to open the blinds when the sun rises … or thousands of other daily habits.
Depending on where you get your numbers, somewhere between 81 percent and 92 percent of New Year's Resolutions fail. Translation: At least 8 times out of 10, you are more likely to fall back into your old habits and patterns than you are to stick with a new behavior.
I explain that the process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.
Dyrsmid began each morning with two jars on his desk. One was filled with 120 paper clips. The other was empty. As soon as he settled in each day, he would make a sales call. Immediately after, he would move one paper clip from the full jar to the empty jar and the process would begin again.
Activation energy is the minimum amount of energy that must be available for a chemical reaction to occur. Let's say you are holding a match and that you gently touch it to the striking strip on the side of the match box.
The labels “good habit” and “bad habit” are slightly inaccurate. There are no good habits or bad habits. There are only effective habits. That is, effective at solving problems. All habits serve you in some way—even the bad ones—which is why you repeat them.
That’s especially true if you want to stick with them for the long-term. Thankfully, there are a few simple strategies that you can use to build good habits and break bad ones.
My hope is that these examples will illustrate how real people are putting the book into practice. They will show you what people are actually doing to build good habits and break bad ones. And hopefully, they will spark some ideas for how you can do the same.
On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally's study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
Elite performers will often measure, quantify, and track their progress in various ways. Each little measurement provides feedback. It offers a signal of whether they are making progress or need to change course.
Change is hard. You've probably noticed that. We all want to become better people — stronger and healthier, more creative and more skilled, a better friend or family member.
What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.
According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. Understanding how to build new habits (and how your current ones work) is essential for making progress in your health, your happiness, and your life in general.