There are two parts to form a habit or build
habits (how to create new habits, develop self-discipline): Consistency and Quality.
So, for example, you could brush your teeth every night but fail to align the toothbrush
with your gums in the way that your dentist instructed. That’s a habit poorly done, so
how to make a new habit. For the Consistency- I use the key framework
called BMAT, habit formation. Essentially, to get a Behaviour you need to combine Motivation,
Ability and a Trigger. Quality of good habits to build: I use a concept
called Deliberate Practice. Normally a habit is in service of some bigger goal. So, the
Quality matters a lot and I’ll end up redesigning my habit over and over again to be as efficient
as possible. In Deliberate Practice (how to start new habits), how you practice is as
important as how much you practice. You are your own habit designer, build new
habits. And it’s pretty easy. You just need to address all three areas.
Motivation: You chose this habit, so presumably you have a starting level of motivation. The
problem is that this motivation may wear off later. So, most motivational tricks are about
stopping you from falling off the wagon. My favourite motivational hack is to adopt
a version of the “don’t break the chain” method. Use a journal or a goal tracker and make yourself
accountable by setting a deadline or lose something.
Then things happen 1. Because of loss aversion, you won’t want to break the habit or you will
lose something or give up something .2. Your confidence will go up. Essentially, the accountability
is proof that supports having a growth mindset. You can change because you are changing.
Ability: Ability measures how difficult the habit is. You probably assume ability is internal.
But a lot of your ability to do something is external. Do you have the tools?
Imagine starting a gym habit. You don’t have the ability to do this habit until you join
a gym. That’s obvious, right? But where is this gym located? My gym is right across the
street from my office or it could be your way to the office. So my ability to go to
the gym is about as easy as it can get. But it could still get easier if I devoted a room
in my house to exercise equipment. There are tons of good examples of making
your life easier by redesigning your environment. Stop snoozing by putting the alarm clock further
away from your bed. Stop eating sugar by throwing it away.
Trigger: You can’t do something if you forget to do it. The Tiny Habits method has people
write down the trigger along with their habit. The idea is to tie your new habit to an existing
habit. For example, my habit of setting priorities
is tied to sitting at my desk for long-term goals and goal setting success.
Deliberate Practice Having the habit isn’t really the full story.
You have to decide if you like the habit or if you can improve on it. That means you need
to measure it. And sometimes what you measure isn’t the thing that actually matters. So
trial and error is a big piece of forming habits.
When I first designed my morning routine, I measured only how long it took. So I wrote
down all of the steps. I think there were almost thirty steps in total. Then I took
a Saturday afternoon and practised three times in a row.
During the practice, I showered exactly like I would normally during each practice run.
I dressed. I brushed my teeth. And I timed it to see how fast I could get ready.
But then when I put this routine into my actual life I found myself dreading it. It turns
out that a fast morning routine isn’t the most exciting thing to wake up to.
So I redesigned it so that my first step was spending time going for walk first thing in
the morning. That was something happy that could get me out of bed. Until then I’d never
thought to measure how fun my routine was- How to reach your goals,
I think this is the missing piece when most people talk about habits (how to achieve your
goals). You need to practice the habit, not just hold yourself to it. And in practice,
you need to decide whether to refine it or redefine it.