I have been delving into the science and application of habit creation for a few months now and I have found many surprising things about how to create habits that serve you and how many of our habits do the exact opposites.
However, that doesn’t mean our habits are bad (since thats a non helpful judgement) it’s just that most of our in-grain habits are not ones we’ve consciously chosen but rather many are the by-product of our environment and the people we hang around.
Do you know that around 90% of all our actions are habitual? Humans are creatures of habits, and our set of habits is what defines us.
In it’s most simplest form a habit is a default response to common situation.
Every morning you get up and go to brush your teeth. You don’t’ think about it, you don’t make a decision whether to do it or not. You just go to your bathroom on autopilot and often you don’t even remember doing it. Similarly when you go and fill your car with petrol, there’s been a dozen times I’ve rode away from the petrol station and had no idea whether I’ve screwed my cap back on or whether I’ve even paid!
Thats habit (and not paying attention…)
That’s the best part of habits – we perform habitual behavior automatically without any stress involved and without any willpower needed.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could achieve our goals the same way, on autopilot? The truth is that we can if we set proper habits in place.
With any goal your main focus should be habit development. It is a fact that any goal requires a set of certain actions. Some of them will be one-time actions, like making a call, or doing research on a subject. But the key actions will be the ones that you need to do on a constant basis, habitually.
If you want to lose weight you need to make exercising a habit. If you want to develop your business you need to make finding new customers a habit. If you want to publish a book you need to make writing a habit.
So let’s see how to choose what habits to develop and how to turn them into power habits.
The Biggest Enemy To Habits, Willpower and Consistency
Before we go onto creating power habits lets get onto its biggest enemy. Why do so many people fail in their power habit creation?
Let’s look at one of the worst times to start a new habit. New Years Eve.
It’s a new year, a new beginning and everyone feels inspired to set new resolution that would change his life for the better.
Let’s meet our friend Michelle.
Michelle too sets her goal. She wants to lose some weight and to start leading a healthier lifestyle. She feels so inspired that she decides to go on a diet for a couple of weeks and exercise in the gym regularly.
Next day comes and she’s on track. She had her fruit smoothie that wasn’t too bad and she had green salad for lunch. She has “to go to local gym after work” task written down on her to do list.
In the evening she is tired, hungry, but she is still inspired. She drives home and gets her things for the gym ready. It takes much longer than she expected. After 40 minutes spend on finding her running shoes she finally hits the gym.
She meets nice trainer, Adam who measures her, fills in her personal details and gives her generic beginners workout to follow. After “find me if you have questions” Adam disappears. Mary follows the workout hoping she did at least something right.
When she gets home she is really tired and hungry and her headache becomes stronger. Chicken breast for the supper doesn’t lift her spirits much.
Second day comes and now Michelle feels annoyed.
Inspiration and motivation vanished and now it becomes a battle of will. Michelle makes herself fruit smoothie after a long motivational speech and a promise to herself that she would skip the gym today since her muscles hurt and it is definitely not recommended for beginners to start with so much exercise.
During lunch she goes out with her work colleauges and she finds herself at Jus Burgers. She slips and orders a lamb burger with wedges. It is the best burger joint in town and no smoothie gets better then that. She plans delicious dinner in her mind since “Well, I didn’t follow all the rules already, so I’ll give myself a break today”.
And this will be the official end of her resolution.
Some of her stronger?willed friends will probably last a coupe of days longer, but mostly everyone forgets all the resolutions by January 15th.
So what actually happened here?
Well not only are resolutions set up to NOT WORK but what Michelle was trying to do is to set up 2 new habits – to eat less and to exercise more.
Big trouble with habits is that they are difficult to set up. On average it takes 30 days to form a habit, but those 30 days are filled with battle, struggling, and scraping for the last pieces of willpower (which really few of us have in abundance).
Some people say 21 days but thats just for starters. 30 days is better. However the best way to ingrain a habit is 60 days.
It’s not just about creating a habit its about ingraining one and making it so automatic that you don’t have to think about it.
For the first couple of days we feel inspired, so we follow the routine, but after 3?5 days our inspiration vanishes and we are left one on one with the thing we don’t really want to do.
That’s when procrastination comes in and seduces us into old habits.
“Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.”
My goal in this blog post is to show you how to win the battle with de-motivation and make it much easier to take consistent action.
How To Decide What Habit Do You Need To Develop?
In my previous posts about why success is so important in life and what the key to success is I talked about how success is a skill. And the two skills that are so important to get you there are 1. Proper goal setting 2. Creating habits that support your goals.
So in order to create a powerful habit you need a powerful goal. You might want to read up on the myths of goal setting before you create one though.
Let’s start moving into action that will bring you closer to your goal. Now, notice I’ve written “goal”, and not “goals”. Throughout this report I want you to focus on just one goal. Believe me, one is hard enough, and it will keep you busy.
I want you to choose one goal that would have the most impact on your life over the course of next 5 years.
Five years you say? Yep, five years.
We often overly estimate what we can in a day or a month but underestimate what can be done over years. Decide what will have the most impact in your life today.
It could be a career goal, financial goal, personal goal, health goal, or any other goal that matters to you. But it should be something that is important to you and you really want to achieve it.
I have finally decided on ONE Goal for myself for the next five years:
To build a thriving and growing six-figure home business that affords my family a wonderful lifestyle by or before December 2014.
Of course your goal is your goal. It can be fitness, it can be relationships. It can be getting a house.
Once you’ve chosen your goal you will begin to see that you need to take some actions to make it a reality. There are two types of actions that we need to take: one-time actions and habitual actions.
Let’s take weight loss as example. We all know that in order to lose weight we need to eat less and exercise more. To achieve this we will need to take one-time actions like finding an acceptable meal plan or a diet, reading a book about healthy eating, or joining the organic food forum. We also can join the gym, buy running shoes, or call our friend to ask for a phone number of the personal trainer she was bragging about. All those are one-time actions that need to be done just once.
Usually one-time actions are done with no troubles, in the state of ‘momentum’.
Then you need to take habitual actions, like going to the gym 3 times a week and eating healthy breakfast every day. Here is where our troubles begin. New habits are difficult to set up. Yet every goal requires a new habit of some type.
Look at your goal and ask yourself: what is one habit I could develop that would propel me towards the result I want to achieve? Something that if done daily would bring amazing results, even if you skipped all the rest of the actionable items. We are looking for a high?value activity. In business it may be making 10 calls to prospective clients every day. In weight loss it may be 30 minutes of running every morning. If you want to write your report you might want to write at least 2 pages every day.
The Power of Will Power (And What To Do If You Have None).
“Willpower is trying very hard not to do something you want to do very much.” ? John Ortberg
In 1972 researchers at Stanford University decided they would create an research experiement where they could torture kids, legally.
Okay, so it wasn’t technically torture but try telling the four year olds that!
Four year old Carolyn was invited into a “game room” at the Bing Nursery School, on the campus of Stanford University. The room was small and empty, containing just a desk and a chair. A researcher asked Carolyn to sit down and pick a treat from the tray – a marshmallow, a cookie, or a pretzel stick. Carolyn chose the marshmallow. A researcher then made Carolyn an offer: she could either eat one marshmallow right away or, if she was willing to wait while he stepped out for a few minutes, she could have two marshmallows when he returned. Then he left the room. This experiment was conducted by Walter Mischel and involved over 600 children.
Most kids attempted to delay the immediate gratification and wait for the second treat. There’s footage of this same experiment below done on 4 kids and you can see how children struggle trying not to eat the treat right away. Alternatively you can see what happens to marshmallows in a vacuum. (Random)
Some cover their eyes with their hands or turn around. Others stroke the candy like it’s the bearer of all the goodness in the world. One boy looks carefully around the room to make sure that nobody can see him.
Most of the children held out for an average of less than three minutes.
But there was a group of children who managed to resist the temptation for 15 minutes and get 2 candies as a result. In the follow-up tests this group had higher SAT scores, they were able to pay attention better, and they were significantly more competent.
The experiment demonstrates that people with strong willpower have a higher chance of succeeding.
But does this mean that you are doomed to failure if you don’t have strong willpower? No, you can tremendously successful without the iron willpower, but you have to use what you’ve got wisely.
First of all we need to understand that willpower is a finite resource.
It is a form of energy that we receive every morning in a small amount and it is extremely valuable. What most people usually do with it is they waste it on internal and external conflicts or on managing negative emotions. By midday all the willpower is usually gone and we just go with our habitual flow.
We need to learn to use it wisely. The most powerful way to use your daily dose of willpower is to apply it to your morning success ritual. You’ll read more about morning rituals further below.
How To Turn Your Habit Into Power Habit
Once you picked the habit you need to develop, let’s use some magic and turn it into Power Habit.
What I mean by Power habit is that it should be empowering. We tend to greatly overestimate the amount of time we have and the amount of dedication we possess. So we try to develop habits like ‘wake up 2 hours earlier’, ‘exercise every day for 90 minutes’, ‘write one book chapter every day’.
Sometimes we go even further and try to develop several habits at once. Believe me, one little habit to develop is more then enough.
We need to understand one thing: developing new habits is difficult. So let’s try not to make a difficult task impossible. In fact, let’s try to make it easier.
There are two elements of power habits:
Element #1: they are specific. Element #2: they take no longer than 20 minutes.
I can see the protest in your eyes – “But I won’t achieve anything worthy by going with this rate!” Believe me, you will achieve much more than you think. Slower is faster in this case. Instead of failing over and over again, strive for gradual small improvement. Don’t make huge leaps where you can break your neck. Go slowly one step at a time.
The key to consistent action is not to overwhelm yourself. Your goal can be as high as you want it to be, but your action steps must be small.
Instead of waking up 2 hours earlier, try to wake up 15 minutes earlier. Instead of aiming for 90 minute exercise routine try to do 5 pushups and 10 squads every day. Instead of writing one chapter, just write one crappy page per day.
Make it something you can do in 15-20 minutes. And make it as specific as possible.
What you often will find is that after accomplishing a 15 minutes habit you feel like doing more. On some days you write one page and then you enter the flow and produce 2 great chapters. You will feel great and inspired. On other days you will write one crappy page and you won’t be able to write more. But you will still feel great because the goal is accomplished. You did what you had to do.
If your goal is to exercise in the gym the first habit is just going there! So one habit is just turning up for 60 days. You’ll be way ahead of the 80% of people who go for a month and drop out. Of course while you’re at the gym you might as well…
Same with exercising. You do 5 pushups and then you feel you want to do some stretching or some cardio. Great! If you can do more and over perform that’s amazing. But don’t beat yourself up if on some days you can’t go further 20 minute action step.
By keeping your habits easy to develop you accomplish several things:
- You tend to procrastinate less. We often procrastinate because we are overwhelmed with the task and don’t even know where to start. Keeping your action step specific and simple reduces the need to procrastinate.
- You don’t damage your self-esteem. We go hard on ourselves if we miss our goals. By setting easy to accomplish tasks you failure-proof your road to success. Everyday you give yourself a reason to say “Good job, you did what you had to do!” This builds up your self esteem and boosts your performance.
- You keep yourself motivated. The feeling of accomplishment builds overtime and you don’t lose your motivation when trying to establish a new habit. Success builds success, and by hitting your small goals on a constant basis you turn yourself into achiever. So make sure your habit is specific (so you know exactly what you need to do) and it doesn’t take more than 20 minutes. Don’t forget to write your new power habit down in the worksheet you printed out.
What Is The Most Powerful Power Habit To Have?
In case you don’t have a specific goal in mind or you have too many and don’t know what to start with I have a tip that could double your productivity in the next 30 days. Wake Up Productive course (not an affiliate link) is one of the most advanced productivity training you can go through. It is developed by Eben Pagan.
The first thing Eben teaches is to establish a morning success ritual that would fire you up with energy and allow you to start your day off the right track. By having a morning ritual you will be more productive, you will get better results, and you will feel great. Just by developing this one habit you can change your life dramatically because it almost forces you into success mindset and sets your day right.
Here’s a sample morning routine:
6:00 Wake up with empowering music
6:05 – 6:20 Read empowering books in bed from authors such has Tony Robbins, Jeffrey Gitomer, Dale Carnegie etc.
6:20 – 6:45 Drink a glass of water and take a shower
6:45 – 7:15 Have a healthy breakfast
You can develop your own Morning Ritual, but I recommend you to start slowly. Begin with reading empowering books immediately after you wake up. Getting the motivational boost early in the morning will fill you with energy and will put your mind on success track.
Try to incorporate healthy habits into your Morning Ritual like drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, exercising, having a healthy breakfast. When you start strong you go strong and you finish strong. If you are looking for the most powerful habit to develop the morning success routine that has the highest pay off.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my epic post about how to create Power habits and more importantly found it of value in such a way you can try out these tips and steps yourself. Personally these tips have been a real game changer in my personal life but especially my business.
The key to successfully reaching your goals is to create powerful and empowering habits. However, in order to ingrain these habits it best to concentrate on one goal and one habit at a time for at least 30 days.
Identify one goal that you really want to accomplish and then follow the steps above to create a Power habit that will support accomplishing this goal.
A goal is just a tool, a sign post to where you want to get. Who you become on the journey towards it is much more valuable and important, and thus the creation of habits is what defines you.