There’s a quote that has been around for a long time that shows us why we need to take charge of our habits….
“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” by Warren Buffet.
If you don’t take charge of your habits, even ones that seem harmless, they will easily control you.
While habits are easily formed and followed through, especially once your brain recognizes them as habits, you can still change them. Always remember that you are in control, not your habits.
Habit expert and writer of the book ‘Atomic Habits’ James Clear has four rules for forming habits that can help you take charge of them. You may have some good habits..and some not so good habits, either way you can still use these rules to gain some measure of control. These rules, according to Atomic Habits, are:
- Make it obvious
- Make it attractive
- Make it easy
- Make it satisfying
Make it Obvious
To take charge of your habits, you need to make them obvious. For example, let’s pretend you have decided you want to start running. If your running shoes and gear are in the closet, then that habit isn’t so obvious or apparent. Your brain will just want to stay in bed in the morning rather than sifting through your wardrobe for your shoes.
So, you can put your running shoes by the door and make sure that they are the first thing you see in the morning. Then you’ll be reminded that you should run today. To break bad habits, you want to hide them away.
Make it Attractive
With habits, most people focus on the long-term goals. You might say, “I will go for a run to get my beach body in ten weeks.” While that goal is noble, it does nothing when running in the cold and feeling miserable.
So, make your habits attractive and give yourself a reward or incentive to get it done. Perhaps you could run with a friend, or choose a running path that has a pleasant view or lovely surroundings. I also find jogging on a bush track gives me far more pleasure just by being out amongst nature, that jogging on the city streets. For bad habits, add extra steps or make going the habit very unattractive.
Make it Easy
Remember, the brain always takes on the path of least resistance. If that path happens to lead to your habit, then more power to you. It might seem illogical, but instead of telling yourself. I will run a mile today; say that you will only run a block.
Having smaller micro-habits will make everything easier and will help you do them. Most people go too big, get discouraged, and then get burnt out. But running a block, reading one page of a book, or doing one push-up is something that takes no time at all. Plus, if you are able to achieve one small habit, what is stopping you doing another…and another?
For bad habits, add more resistance to them and make them harder to achieve.
Make it Satisfying
Reward yourself along the journey for your habits, and you’ll keep doing them. Maybe if you go running for thirty days, give yourself some type of reward. Have a good meal, watch a movie, do something you wouldn’t normally do, and also reflect on how running has made you a better person than you were 30 days ago.
For bad habits, remove the satisfaction from them, and you won’t see them as a reward.
You Are In Control
Remember, you are in control! Every habit, good or bad, comes from your brain, you are the one that is in charge.
If you want to make or break a habit, you are the only one who can do so. Follow the four steps, and you’ll find that it gets easier and easier to take charge and make your habits work for you.