I read this book Atomic Habits by James Clear and just LOVED it. There are so many micro-lessons and things anyone can do to make a behavior change in their life. For my career I do just that, make material to change someone’s behavior. Often by teaching them something in order to be successful at their job.
Not everyone is going to read this book but if you are that is great and you will get a lot out of it. If you are like many who won’t read the book, I think this post will give you the highlights so you too can make some positive changes in your life.
The great thing about habits is they can be the catalyst for you and your goal. If you want to write a book… read more, hang out with other writers, find a place to write, dedicate time to write, do what writers do. What you do is who you are.
I thought a lot about this recently when someone asked me if I am a runner. I never really thought of myself as one, but instead, maybe someone who does it every now and then. The truth is I have done several half marathons, have another one in two weeks and it will be my 2nd race pacing for others. So yes, I am a runner and I run 3 times a week.
What type of person do you want to be? Start being that person with small micro habits. Want to be a runner, then start by getting running shoes, go for a walk, join a running group, run 1 mile.
The science behind habits is there is a cue, a craving, your respond, and then there needs to be a reward for it to be something you will do again. The issue with long-term goals is you don’t get that reward right away. It takes time to see results and so people stop running, stop writing, stop trying.
There are some simple things you can do around these 4 areas of habits to help create new ones and to break the bad ones.
How to Create Good Habits
Cue = Make it obvious
Craving = Make it attractive
Response = Make it easy
Reward = Make it satisfying
How to Break a Bad Habit
Cue = Make it invisible
Craving = Make it unattractive
Response = Make it difficult
Reward = Make it unsatisfying
So what are ways to support the cue? You can leave your running stuff out so you see it when you wake-up. Or put your junk food in the back of the pantry so you don’t see it.
I run with friends and I look forward to listening to my music and playlists I only listen to while running. It is my time and I look forward to the pretty places I run in. I have my TV in the basement of my house, it is a dark part of my home, the sofa isn’t that comfortable, and is my least favorite room.
Running is attractive to me since it is a goal of mine to live a healthy life. Fitting into my clothes is a goal, keeping my mind happy is a goal, and I enjoy running. Buying new clothes since I gained weight is not attractive to me.
I make it easy by having a running bag with all my accessories like gloves, lights, hydration packs. I lay out my clothes the night before and I have friends who are waiting for me. I keep junk food out of sight, I put the veggies and fruit in the fridge in view and junk food in drawers. I keep healthy snacks with me and pack a healthy lunch when I have time. My response is tailored so I make better choices based on my environment.
The reward should be the process, not the goal. I enjoy my music, friends, the view while running. My goal is to be healthy and get faster, but my reward is how I get there. The goal is almost unsatisfying as the journey is over once I get there.
If you are looking to change a habit, start out small. Find one little thing you can do today to move in that direction. James, the author, suggests something that only takes 2 minutes. Build that around the 4 steps: Cue, Craving, Response, Reward and see how you change over time. Take a look at his book “Atomic Habits” if you are a reader and follow me on Instagram as I will be sharing tips around micro habits each day in August.
Here’s to being the best version of you. * L