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Habit formation is the root of all success...and also failure.
What you do day in and day out is what really makes you who you are and either helps you or hurts you.
If you can use the power of habits to your advantage, you can get so much amazing stuff done with seemingly little effort once the habit is formed.
Think about the first time you ever drove a car. You had to spend mental effort on every little step of the process. How to open the car door, how to put the key into the ignition, how to take off the parking brake, etc. etc. Now, after having done that so many times, you don't even think about it. A thing that took a lot of effort now has become something so simple you'd think it was silly that someone had to think for even a moment about how to do it.
Other processes in your life can develop in the same way if you work on making them into a habit.
For example, cooking dinner yourself from scratch could be challenging to do at first when you are still learning how to cook. But if you gave it enough time, if you made it into a habit that you cooked 5 nights/week, eventually cooking a health meal for dinner would seem easy and normal and wouldn't take the kind of effort you had to put into it before.
Or consider something work related. Consider making a blog post every week. At first you have to learn the back end of a website. You have to figure out how to get featured images, how to come up with and write content.
But after you've spent enough time doing it, week in and week out, you could do it in your sleep.
The hard part, then, is developing the habit.
There are two ways we want to present to you in this article that you can use to develop a habit.
Way 1 - Anchoring/association
Use something you like and connect it to the habit you are trying to create.
For example, you want to write a blog post once a week, but you find it hard or intimidating. Take something you enjoy, say a good cup of coffee, and don't let yourself have that coffee until you've written your blog post. Do this every day or every other day (so you build a small backlog of posts) for a week or two until you learn the ropes of how to perform this task. After doing it for those 7 or 14 days in a row, you'll find that you've learned the steps on how to perform this task.
Now eventually you'll begin to do this weekly. So find a weekly reward that you can use in the same way. Eventually you won't need any bribe because you'll do it automatically as it is now a habit.
Way 2 - Social Accountability
As we've talked about in a previous episode, you can use social accountability as a way to force yourself to take action on a repetitive basis.
Use social pressure to make a claim that you will do xyz each week for 1 year (or something along those lines). What you're doing here is using that pressure to help yourself intentionally develop a habit. Before, we talked about how you can use social accountability to take massive action. Now we are layering on top of that habit formation. Not only are you going to take action because of social accountability, but now we can think about it in terms of habit formation as well.
This Week's Challenge
Identify a process or a task that you find hard or intimidating that you should be doing but aren't. Choose either anchoring or social accountability and use one of those two tools as a way to make that challenging task into a habit so that over time you can get it done with much less effort.
Now get after it!
Ryan: I’m Dr. Ryan Debell. Thanks for tuning in once again to the Health Fit Biz podcast. This is episode number eleven. And what we are talking about in this episode is how you can utilize habits and the way habits develop in the brain to get challenging tasks done without effort by utilizing habit formation. And so, what we’re going to talk about in this episode why that matters and also techniques you can use to help yourself form these habits to make doing consistent work seem effortless over time. So, if you’re in school we can think about the habit of getting projects done on time or how making habit of studying in a certain way or if you’re in the business world you could be thinking of how to develop a habit to get certain processes done. How to get things done on a daily or weekly basis. Get a ton of work done in a seemingly effortless way. So, without further ado, let’s listen in to episode number 11.
Anthony: Welcome Ryan! Dr. Ryan Debell and all you beautiful listeners out there. This is another episode of the Health
Ryan: Did you say pad-cast?
Anthony: I don’t know. Alright. Welcome!
Ryan: Welcome to the HFBP
Anthony: This episode is brought to you by one of the favorite things Ryan likes to do which is…
Ryan: It’s brought to you by concept that I like. The concept I guess that I like is I like to think about habits and how habits allow you to get things done without a lot of effort.
Anthony: How is this one these words that people hear over and over again? And changing habits? Stalling habits.
Ryan: Picking my nose and eating it. Stop biting my nails.
Ryan: Yeah, right?!
Anthony: Bad habits, good habits.
Ryan: Yeah, exactly.
Anthony: What’s the different way to think about this? What a habit is and how they are instilled?
Ryan: Why was I coughing on this? There’s dust in the screen, phone tip of this microphone
Anthony: Drink some coffee.
Ryan: So, we think of like “Oh! Good habit, that’s a bad habit.” I think of trying to take a task that you have to commonly do. Turn that into a habit so that it becomes extremely easy for you to do a process without a lot of mental energy. So, what I mean by this is… Let me give you a good example.
Ryan: Think of something that makes you tired that you have to do for a job or for work or at home. Okay. Once you can make yourself do that like daily or weekly and you have a way that you consistently do it, you actually have to use less mental energy to perform that task once it develops into a habit. So, if you can turn tasks that have to be accomplished into a habit by doing them consistently at the same time or the same way, it means that you can do the same amount of work but more easily with less effort less energy and so you can effectively do things. You can do more things. One example of this and I don’t mean to demean, not demean but say that like the workshops that I do are a habit. Okay? But let me give you an example, when I first started doing workshops I would come back from them, I like literally couldn’t talk to anybody for a day because I was so tired. I was so mentally fatigued, I had no energy. After doing them a lot and going through the habit of how do I send out emails, how do I organize it, how do I do xy and z, I don’t ever get tired now. Because mentally, I’ve done it so many times that it becomes much simpler. So, that’s one, that’s a large habit if you will, the way a sequence of events that you do over and over and over again. Let’s say also for example, well Anthony can you think of a habit or a process you’ve gone through so many times that the mental energy is less because you’ve gotten accustomed to it.
Anthony: All throughout a court ball that you hear.
Ryan: Okay, tell me a court ball.
Anthony: Say it was my awareness that I was unable to create the habits that I wanted to create and the changes that I made to do so. So, for that example, I would say one of the things that I do now on a nightly basis is prioritize my tasks for the next day. So tht when I wake up, I don’t need to think and I just go straight in to the projects that I know need to be done. The highest leverage thing.
Anthony: Whenever I did that I, the next day will go very very well. But getting in to the routine and the habit of doing that for me for some reason was very very challenging.
Ryan: Okay. So, how did you do it?
Anthony: So, I set up the rules that because one rule was that I cannot eat dinner until I did this thing. So, it just became almost a reward for me. I said, “Okay I’m not going to eat until this happens.” So, now I am just in a routine where as in cleaning up in the kitchen, doing or getting things ready or about to have dinner. I just jot those things down and make sure that’s crossed out and boom was done! And now, I don’t even have to think about it. This to me it automatically happens as in preparing and getting ready for closing the night and hitting into rest mode. Boom! In the next day are taken cared of super-efficient. Another way people can do this is, I’ve known a lot of people to “I can’t have my coffee in the morning until I do A, B, or C.”
Ryan: So essentially, you’re attaching a behavior change to something you’re already doing.
Anthony: Something that yore already doing
Ryan: Something that you want to do.
Anthony: Something that you want to do. That’s the most important part there as making sure that you’re positively associating something.
Anthony: Yes very.
Ryan: Is that Pavlovian?
Ryan: Do you know what I mean?
Anthony: Yeah. Dogs. I get it.
Ryan: Ring the bell! Ring. Now, I want my dinner.
Ryan: Pavlovian. Pavlov. So, you’re essentially to create a behavior change you’re associating it with something that you enjoy. So, that “Hey, if I do this. I get a reward.”
Anthony: So, for me, it was not like if this the not, it was more so can’t have this if not that.
Ryan: Got it.
Anthony: So, I was already doing and liking those things. I like to eat a lot.
Ryan: You’re amazing chef.
Anthony: And I like to drink coffee. Love it!
Ryan: Yeah. I know you do. I’ve been watching all day.
Anthony: So, those things didn’t really change. So, if I was saying “Hmmm…” If I do this then I get to have this thing that’s not already a routine. Well, then I would have had to create new habits. Getting a reward and doing nothing that caused the reward to happen.” And so, using things that are already built in to my routine, I’m already doing, that made things much much easier.
Ryan: It’s like an anchoring point, essentially right?
Ryan: You make a sequence, a sequence of events. And so, by having one event or one thing that you’re already doing you can layer extra things that you need to get done on that. So, it’s like, when I do this, I also do this, I also do this. And then that makes it so it’s mentally less challenging and does not fatigue you that way that it would otherwise. Like “Uhh… I have to get myself to do these things and I’m just going to do it whenever I feel like it.” Well you’re not going to feel like it if you’ll be doing it. So, if you make it into a series of events that’s associated with something that you like doing or something that you’re already doing, it allows you to make that behavior change which is really what you’re trying to get after when you’re forming a habit.
Anthony: So, what else have you created positive habits around? In this area or technique like I said I was not allowing myself to eat or have coffee. Is there a way that you have successfully onboarded new habits that you wanted to change?
Ryan: I think doing it like how you described where you’re associating with something that you are already or currently doing is effective, I think also part of it is just doing it.
Anthony: Just keeping it consistent.
Ryan: Keeping it consistent and maybe you use social accountability for that which is something that we’ve talked about before. Like for example, let’s talk about the habit that I’ve developed of making a video every week. Because essentially that’s a habit. Right? Now, this is where concepts start to come together. And the concept will be this, I wanted to create a habit of making a weekly blog post. In order to do that I have some accountability so I use social accountability to make me stay consistent and that helped me to form a habit of making this blog post weekly and then after doing it over and over and over and over again, the steps and the task became much simpler for to the point where I almost don’t have to think about how to do it, I’m just “this is part of what I do.” And then you look at it externally and then “Oh my gosh! You’re doing all the stuff.” And you go “Well, once you’re used to doing it, once it’s a habit we know that the mental effort required to perform a habit that is already deeply ingrained is very low.” So, by using social accountability, in my instance, I was able to develop a habit that allowed me to be productive without having to use a lot of effort and mental energy so that I can increase my productive output which helped me to get in to my 10,000. You see I’m saying?
Ryan: So, all these concepts blend together. But that’s one thing I used in order to create a habit for myself.
Anthony: And yeah, people are asking “Why do we need to change habits to be like this?” The biggest complaint that I’ve heard from colleagues of mine is “Why? You’re doing all these stuff and blah blah blah?” And I say “Okay. Why don’t you start writing a blog post or try posting on social media or start doing this to reach your ten thousand.” “Oh! It’s like such work.” Whatever.
Ryan: Yeah. It is work!
Anthony: You know how to eliminate that work? You create a habit.
Anthony: It’s seamless. It’s just like a reaction, what you do.
Ryan: There’s a lot of interesting research in psychology on habits how, essentially, once you developed a habit it sorts of becomes the subconscious routine that you do. Like think about this, when you get in to your car do you think about like the steps required to turn a car on, reverse out of your parking spot and then start driving forward? Or do you sometimes do it automatically and you haven’t thought about the steps that you are doing? Now the first time you learn how to do that, it took you know “I have to do this…”
Anthony: Mental input.
Ryan: Right. Huge mental input. The first time that you started driving, it would be like “Oh my gosh. I’m getting on the freeway. This is scary. Like I got to change lanes now.” Now, you don’t vent think about it. You’re on your… You’re eating and people are on their phone. I saw this one person who was eating, smoking and on their phone at the same time while they’re driving. I guarantee no one was doing that when they were first time they’re driving right?! But once it becomes a habit and so deeply ingrained on how to perform these steps. The mental energy, now I’m not saying go out and smoke, be on your phone and eat while you’re driving. But once you develop a habit, you don’t even have to think about it. It’s developing the habit that’s the hard part. So, you can use anchoring like you described. Use social accountability like I described as methods to get yourself to develop a habit so you can change the behavior.
Anthony: So, I think it’s that time.
Ryan: For what? The weekly challenge?
Anthony: The weekly challenge.
Ryan: What is it? Tell me.
Anthony: So, if you’re going through this process of figuring out “What’s my ten or ten thousand? How am I going to provide more value?” If you find yourself that’s kind of sticking on you like “Oh it will be kind of pain in the ass to do that.” We want you to think about that and then think about how you can use an associated task like coffee or dinner or social accountability like publishing tool (“We’re going to be doing this every Monday”) to start creating habits and making it an automatic thing that you do.
Ryan: Yep. So, figure out what is something that’s challenging as you said associate it somehow to create the behavior change. Develop a habit and you will see that eventually it becomes something that before seemed monumental to achieve. Once it’s a habit, it’s almost insignificant to achieve.
Anthony: Get after those habits guys. Get after it.
Ryan: Thank you guys for tuning in to this episode of the Health Fit Business podcast. If you find it helpful, please share with someone that you think it would also help and leave us a five-star rating on iTunes. Make sure also to go to healthfit.biz and sign up for the email notifications to which you can find right on the homepage so that you get all the updated podcasts and blog posts sent directly to you. Until then, we will see you next time.