Creating & Maintaining Helpful Habits
Whether we are talking about how we care for others, how we save or how we live, our habits have a real and lasting impact on our lives (a classic Two Ronnies song included the lovely line “I got bad habits, I don’t clean out me rabbits”).
The creation of new helpful habits can be made easier by using three tactics:
You can use goals anytime – maybe motivated by an event, an insight or a date in the diary like New Year! Make the goals about the outcome AND process.
When my partner chivvied me to clean the shower glass every time after use - with the squeegee thing - my intention was to do it every time. Picking up my towel was my prompt. For bigger habits, as James Clear says...
“Habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. It doesn’t feel like you are going anywhere. It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.”
Set Up The Environment
This is a biggee. Keep the biscuit tin on the top shelf. Shop after you’ve eaten. Keep the squeegee thing right in front of you so you can’t miss it. Also choose your influences.
“The culture we live in determines which behaviours are attractive to us. We tend to imitate the habits of three social groups: the close (family and friends), the many (the tribe) and the powerful (those with status and prestige).”
Engage The Support of Others
Tell others what you’re working on. Going public adds to the sense of accountability. If the habit is one you want to get into then harness the support of those who can help you. Don’t let pride or stubbornness get in your way if it’s what you want!
I want to please my partner. She was fully supportive of my habit and blessed me with regular feedback.
“People with high self-control tend to spend less time in tempting situations”.
In summary, our world is often working against what is good for us – creating unhelpful habits. But it is possible to get in, and stay in, good habits.
Whether we’re talking about regular saving, exercise or basic hygiene (many of us are so good at cleaning our teeth because the habit was drilled into us so young) habits can make a tremendous difference to our lives and our outcomes.
And keep the rabbits happy along the way.
* Quotes from 'Atomic Habits' by James Clear
James Clear is a writer and speaker focused on habits, decision making, and continuous improvement. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, 'Atomic Habits'. The book has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages.
Pictured Below: 'Everyday Performance' by Jim Constable and Barry Wyatt – "an entertaining, informative and easy read on how to perform better at what you do!"