Author: Steff O’Brien
This month is all about the habits that form your identity and how to utilize them to biohack your way to your goals. By starting or stopping new habits, we can change our identity and finally achieve that fulfillment we have been striving for. Find out how that is possible in this blog.
The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner. What this means is it is important not to overwhelm yourself by biting off more than you can chew in the beginning, a new runner should not yet set their sights on a marathon, but rather on building the habit of becoming a runner first. If you want to lose weight, you need to actively focus and push yourself to move your body every day.
Many of us are challenged with achieving the results we desire. We have dreams, we set goals, we develop action items and implement plans to achieve them. However, many of us never achieve what we set out to accomplish. The first step is to define who you are. “I am” are the two magic words that help you build your identity. When you know yourself, you can become the person you want to be in order to have what you wish for. Creating a list of 20 I am statements is a great way to get started, send me a message if you want a template or instructions for that.
Only 10% of an iceberg is visible; while the other 90% remains unseen. The same is true for humans. You see a small percentage of the characteristics that define a person, while there are skills and beliefs that remain unknown and to be discovered.
- Above the waterline are your behaviours, decisions and actions.
- Below the waterline, lie your skills, beliefs, values, and core identity.
- The water surrounding the iceberg is the environment in which you live and work.
Skills, beliefs, identities, and values are under the water line, suggesting that they need to be developed and worked on. We need personal development habits to explore true potential.
In James Clears’ illustrious book Atomic Habits (which I highly recommend), he states how bBuilding a habit consists of four stages: cue, craving, response, and reward. This neurological process is called a “habit loop”. By understanding the science behind it, you can effectively begin to alter your habits. In short, the cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving – which then becomes associated with the cue. These loops are going on endlessly throughout our days, most of the time without you even realizing it. Given what we now know, we implement the Four Laws of Behaviour Change that will help us create new habits and break bad ones.
Creating a good habit:
The Cue : MAKE IT OBVIOUS
→ the simplest way of accomplishing this is scheduling time for it. I cannot stress this enough. How often have you said you are going to do something, and days, months, even years pass by. Writing things down has been scientifically proven that it increases the likelihood of you following through. Your brain receives the message that it is important, not merely a thought that you repeatedly do not act on. Find what works for you, a hand-written to-do list, a phone alarm, mark it in your calendar.
The Craving : MAKE IT ATTRACTIVE
→ a great way to do this is enrolling an accountability partner: whether they are taking on the same endeavour or you ask someone to follow-up with you and hold you accountable. The sheer knowing that you will have to tell your friend you did not do what you had promised yourself, will motivate you – and you will get the added benefit of being validated!
The Response : MAKE IT EASY
→ like we have said before, do not bite off more than you can chew. You want to lose weight, and quit smoking, and start doing early morning yoga AND read 1 book a month? Narrow down your list to what is most important to change first, and start with that. If your sights are set too high, failing even slightly at one could have a domino effect and be exhausting. Choose your priority and start small, devoting even 5 minutes a day and working your way up to where you want to be.
The Reward : MAKE IT SATISFYING
→ there are a few ways you can do this, choose the one that works best for you. If you like to receive positive feedback, you can track our progress in a notebook or on an app, use technology like a FitBit to get accurate feedback, or set aside money every week for those new jeans you want when you’ve reached your goal weight. Incentivising yourself with rewards is a great way to be self motivated and not reliant on others’.
So right after you read this, break that persistent habit of procrastinating, and take the proposed 5-minutes to write out your plan of attack! Write down all the habits you notice throughout a normal day, and then note if it is a positive, negative or neutral habit. This habits scorecard will help usher you in to honing in on what to focus on and will be the first intentional action towards creating better habits.
Now for breaking a bad habit, you are going to want to invert the aforementioned:
→ The Cue : MAKE IT INVISIBLE
→ The Craving : MAKE IT UNATTRACTIVE
→ The Response : MAKE IT DIFFICULT
→ The Reward : MAKE IT UNSATISFYING
Habits are not a finish line to be crossed, they’re a lifestyle to be lived. Make the commitment, take the responsibility, take the first step. Give yourself some grace in this period of transition and be proud of any accomplishment, no matter how small. Observe YOUR evidence. The actions and reactions you see and feel within yourself.. The results of actions you’re taking, decisions you’re making, results you are creating.
As a final note, try not to get hung up on questions like “How long does it take to build a new habit?”. The implicit assumption behind that question is: How long until it’s easy? How long until I don’t have to put in effort anymore? How long until I no longer have to think about it?
But here’s the truth: The honest answer to “How long does it take to build a habit?” is: forever because once you’ve stopped doing it, it is no longer a habit.