Interesting things, habits. I like what James Clear has to say about them, and I thought you might like to read it too.
I like it because his work is not your typical rah!rah! speech. He bases his work, which includes a range of behavioural issues, such as sleeping better or creativity, on research and science; his documents are clear and logical. He talks about different strategies to try, that are again, based on research.
One way to help build habits is to Habit Stack.
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. You can take advantage of these strong connections to build new habits.
The quickest way to build a new habit into your life is to stack it on top of a current habit.
This is a concept called “habit stacking” because you stack your new habit on top of a current habit. Because the current habit is strongly wired into your brain already, you can add a new habit into this fast and efficient network of neurons more quickly than if you tried to build a new path from scratch. (Note: I’m not the first person to figure this out. )
Danny Gregory says a similar thing about developing a daily art practice. He says to put your sketchbook next to your kettle, and while it is boiling, draw your tea cup.
And a little example from my life….
I am terrible about drinking enough water over the day. I know I should, I know the health benefits, I know how my body reacts when I don’t, but I could never seem to get into the habit. Just Do It never seemed to work for me.
I always admire friends who carry water bottles with them. I tried this, but found I forgot to take it, forgot to drink from it, left it somewhere, or most ridiculously, didn’t take it because it was too heavy. Ridiculous because if I drank the water it would be lighter!
So then I thought about habit stacking ~ I’ll drink a glass of water every time I wash my hands. But there was the barrier that I usually wash my hands in the bathroom but the glass was in the kitchen. By the time I had walked into the kitchen I had lost the momentum or been distracted by the myriad other things that distract me. I bet you worked out the solution quicker than I did ~ move a glass into the bathroom!
I have been doing it for about a week now, and the number of glasses I drink has shot up. Go Me! Now to break some of those bad habits….
What strategies work for you to build or break habits?