Harness the Power of Habit
Recently, I wrote a short article about Discipline. It is my belief that great rewards stem from discipline above all else and that seems to be the case with many successful businessmen, actors, and public figures. But how does one actually develop discipline? What if you’re not motivated?
I’ll tell you about two stories that helped me become more motivated even when there was no motivation. About three years ago, I wanted to start reading books for the plethora of benefits the offer. However, I initially found them uninteresting and boring. I couldn’t even commit to reading 10 pages in a row.
Essentially, I was lacking in motivation.
How did I change this?
How did I push myself to read more (by the way, I read a book every two weeks or so now and have been doing so fairly consistent for about 3 years)? It’s all about Habit.
There are certainly times when we lack the motivation to do something (even simple things like cooking or maybe doing short assignments). Even so, time doesn’t stop when you don’t feel like doing something.
You need to make behaviors a habit to achieve that consistency.
When I couldn’t tolerate reading, I challenged myself to read a little each day starting with 10 pages, then 15, then 20 each day until I finished that book (at the time, my goal was to read 1 book every 2 months). Inevitably, after reading a little each day, it became a habit. Somehow, my brain rewired itself and sort of craved the desire to read.
I wanted to understand more about what occurred so I picked up a copy of Charles Duhigg’s book, the Power of Habit.
Charles Duhigg explains that habits are created by a cycle of Cue, Routine, and Reward. He further elaborates that by altering the routine just slightly in response to a cue, you can quickly form new habits. He goes on to state that habits are never really broken. Rather, your habits are altered. By understanding this and knowing the cycle, you can manipulate the process to your advantage and create new, positive habits.
I tested this out and tried to apply it to a new fitness regimen. Around August of last year, I made the decision to consistently go to the gym and work for the body I had always visualized.
It wasn’t easy at first but I eventually created a routine that forced me to work out at the gym even when I completely lacked motivation.
How did I do it? I utilized the 3 steps outlined in The Power of Habit.
First was the cue: I wanted to go to the gym every day so I would wake up around 5am and make bacon and eggs because nothing excites me more than delicious food).
Then the routine: Once I was up, I had to go to the gym after breakfast.
Finally, the reward: I felt good about myself for going to the gym, I had a great breakfast, and I was also up earlier which allowed me to be more productive throughout the day. This was a solid three-hit combination.
This was a solid three-hit combination.
Now, of course, there were plenty of times when I’d wake up groggy and demotivated. Those were the days that mattered most. What I discovered was that after a short amount of time, even if I didn’t want to go to the gym, my body just wouldn’t let me stay back.
The routine was too strong. I physically had to go or else that routine I had built would be missing and the day would feel almost incomplete as a result. This all leads back to the discipline aspect. When you find that your motivation fades away (and It will), your habits will hold you accountable and reinforce that discipline.
Once again, to quote Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
For anyone interested in controlling their habits, I highly recommend purchasing a copy of the Power of Habit. This New York best seller is one of my favorite books and has helped me achieve my own levels of self-discipline. With several case studies to help you implement the 3-step process and detailed explanations behind the science, this book is an absolute must-have.
If you purchase through this link, not only will you benefit yourself by reading this excellent book but I’ll also receive a small kickback which will be a great support to me.
Hope you enjoyed this article and I hope you’ll set out to change those bad habits.