"Small shifts in behavior can make a huge difference."

James Clear

Today’s show is all about mastering your habits—and we welcome back special guests BJ Fogg, Tara Mackey, and James Clear.

We talk often on the podcast about the impact habits have on us every day—but how do you create a brand new habit? How do you stop a habit that holds you back? 

Today’s episode is a special one dedicated to helping you change your habits. As we often say on the podcast: first you create your habits; then your habits create you—so getting your habits right from the outset is a key to a happier, healthier life.

In this episode, we’ll have our three guests share their top tips and techniques to master your habits fast.

 

Show Notes

First Guest: BJ Fogg

HOW TO THINK ABOUT HABITS

  • Instead of breaking habits, think of it as “untangling” habits
  • Habits usually aren’t just a single thing e.g. if someone says “I want to stop snacking” this might not be just one behavior—they might snack in the morning, afternoon and night and these are all separate behaviors
  • Think of one habit as a tangle of different behaviors
  • Stop the easiest thing first (e.g snacking in the morning), then address the others in gradual steps
  • There are some behaviors that are truly hard to stop and there are reasons for that
  • Behavior happens when motivation, ability, and trigger come together at the same time
  • Using this model, you can systematically work through your behaviors and identify ways to stop your unwanted habits

REMOVE THE TRIGGER

  • If you can remove the trigger you’ve solved the problem
  • Ask yourself: what is reminding me or prompting me to do that behavior?
  • Sometimes you can’t remove the trigger e.g. somebody asking you to go out for ice cream, seeing your phone in the morning

THINK ABOUT ABILITY

  • If you can’t remove the trigger, next look at the ability aspect: how can I make this behavior harder to do?
  • BJ’s love of popcorn: removed all the necessary things to make popcorn from the house

DEMOTIVATE THE BEHAVIOR

  • Can you think of a way to demotivate yourself to do the behavior?
  • This is harder to do than the first 2 steps, which is why we leave it until this stage to try
  • Often there’s something very compelling about the behavior, there’s gratification involved

SWAPPING

  • What other behavior can I do that scratches the itch?

Second Guest: Tara Mackey

‘WILD’ HABITS

  • Willingness: to accept what is not working and be willing to change
  • Intuition: to know what the next step is, take it and see where it leads you
  • Love: have the self-love to do that necessary step day in and day out
  • Discipline: have the discipline to take the step every day to build a new habit

EXAMPLE OF THE WILD PROCESS APPLIED TO DAILY LIFE

  • Change one little habit and see what happens!
  • Example: Tara’s friend changed her whole life by not getting coffee in the morning—it had become a time-waster that ruined her skin, and her body wasn’t reacting in the same way to caffeine anymore
  • Her friend took the WILD steps. Willingness: she accepted it wasn’t working and called Tara, Intuition: next step was to replace caffeine with valerian tea, Self-Love: loved herself enough to meal prep and make enough tea each week to maintain the habit, Discipline: to do it over and over again.
  • Based on the habit change, her route to work changed, and based on her route change she met her future husband on a train she wouldn’t have taken if she’d been in her usual coffee shop in the morning
  • One little thing led to her entire life changing

Third Guest: James Clear

ABOUT HABITS

  • Rough 40-50% of your behaviors on any given day are habits
  • James believes the true power of habit is even greater (70-90%) because an automatic habit can determine your next chunk of time e.g. pulling your phone out of your pocket will lead to you spending 20 minutes checking emails, social media and so on
  • Common habit: using the phone as an alarm clock, therefore, picking up the phone in the morning—can lead to checking social media and mood being influenced early in the day
  • Counter strategies: keep the phone in another room until lunchtime each day, avoid the impulse to check it every 3 minutes just because it’s there

IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON OUR HABITS

  • Technology makes certain behaviors so convenient—we can fall into them without realizing. Worsened by experts working for tech companies trying to get you using devices as often as possible
  • Small shifts in behavior can make a huge difference
  • Addiction: a behavior you continue to repeat despite negative consequences
  • All habits serve you in some way, but addiction is when your brain continues a habit despite it no longer serving you as a solution (usually, your brain should update and change the behavior as it ceases to serve you)
  • Habit: an automated solution to a problem faced in your life
  • Technology can be negative, but you can also set technology to work for you e.g. James’ friend who had his internet modem power killed at 10 pm each night, removing the temptation of late-night television

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