“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” — Jim Ryun. Habits are incredibly powerful. They can make us or break us, and it’s about time we start harnessing their power for our own benefit explains Peter DiCaprio.
While we tend to focus on forming good habits that will bring benefits to our lives, we often neglect the bad ones that we harbor. And just like good habits, they too can make us or break us.
Your environment determines 90% of your actions and behaviors
Our environment contains a whole bunch of stimuli (or triggers) that automatically prompt particular reactions from us. This means that when you enter a certain setting, you’ll automatically know how to behave in it — even if this behavior is not in line with what you actually want to do (e.g., reaching out for junk food when you’re on a diet).
How does this relate to finding motivation?
It’s simple: Most times we don’t even realize we’re acting against our own interests — we simply fall into old routines without even noticing it. So how can we change this?
The solution is simple: We need to break the loop and then build a new one. Here’s how you can do that:
1) Break the loop —
Every time you catch yourself falling into old behavior patterns (e.g., eating junk food without even thinking about it), make it a point to stop what you’re doing immediately and focus as much as possible on what’s going on inside your head and heart at that moment. Ask yourself some key questions like “Why am I eating this?”, “Do I really want to eat this or just follow an old routine?” etc. This should give you enough insight in order to start forming a new, healthier habit that will take over the undesirable one.
2) Build a new loop —
Once you’ve identified why you were doing what you were doing (by breaking the old routine), it’s time to build a new one that will replace the old, unhealthy habit with something positive.
Here are some tips on how to do this:
a) Start small —
Don’t try to tackle everything at once; instead, start with one thing and focus on making that habit stick (e.g., drinking 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning). When this becomes ingrained into your system, move onto another habit says Peter DiCaprio. Over time, they will all become part of who you are and what you do without thinking about it.
b) Use reminders —
Creating physical reminders for yourself is an effective way to keep focused on your goals (e.g., put up a sticky note next to your bed that says “Go jogging before going to sleep”)?
c) Reward yourself —
Once you’ve started forming new habits, make sure you treat yourself every time you do them (e.g., buy yourself a nice shirt once you’ve completed 10 days of jogging). This will help instill even more the desire and determination needed to stick with it for good.
d) Eliminate as much friction as possible —
As humans, we tend to move away from things that are difficult or uncomfortable (e.g., waking up early in the morning becomes far less strenuous once we remove all distractions from the environment and start our morning ritual). Make the first step as easy as possible and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much easier it is to form a new habit.
3) Identify your triggers —
Once you’ve started forming habits, you need to identify what prompts your actions (e.g., when do I usually go for that quick snack?). This way, whenever these triggers show up, you’ll know exactly what they mean (i.e., snack time) and can make an educated decision on whether or not this is really the best time to eat something. If not, don’t force yourself — wait until the craving passes and then take action once you feel like it’s appropriate.
Now go and try some of these techniques in your own life explains Peter DiCaprio. The great part is that you can apply these to almost any habit — from going to gym, to spending a certain amount of time online in a day, to waking up earlier in the morning. And remember: if you fall back into old routines, don’t get discouraged — just start all over again!