Reminder • Routine • Reward

Ari Yeganeh:

For about a year I struggled to make my exercise habits stick. I found it a chore to wake up early and was tired after work so I never got around to it. I always had an excuse for not working out: “I’m tired today”, “I have too many things on”, “It’s Friday, give me a break”

That was until I came across a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The book made it perfectly clear to me why I couldn’t stick to my exercise habit. This is how it broke down the components of any habit:

  • Reminder (cue) – the trigger that initiates the behavior
  • Routine – the behavior itself; the action you take
  • Reward – the benefit you gain from doing the behavior

All I had so far was the exercise routine, not the reminder or reward.

I started with setting a reminder. I found phone reminders naggy and annoying. That didn’t work. Instead I looked at my day and wrote down actions I took without fail that I could use as reminders: waking up, brushing teeth, eating, getting dressed and so on…

The reminder that was the most powerful for me was hunger. I found if I got really hungry I would be motivated to work out (or do anything) just so I can eat. I liked food too much. More than the pain of an intense workout.

And thanks to this new discovery my new habit started to stick. I started consistently exercising every other day. I had all the components of a habit: reminder (hunger), routine (workout) and reward (food).

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Your New Identity

Steve Kamb on developing grit and stepping into a new identity:

Identify the new “identity” you want to have. The more specific you can be with it, the easier it’ll be to prove it to yourself. “I’m the type of person that never misses a workout.” “I’m somebody who eats a healthy lunch every day.” “I’m somebody who works on my side business every dang day.” Remind yourself of this EVERY day by hanging up a post-it note on your bathroom window, or using your phone/calendar to keep this at the front of your mind.

James Clear:

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity.

To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.

And:

1. Decide the type of person you want to be.

2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.

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Never Miss Twice

James Clear and Rich Roll discuss momentum, and what to do when you break a streak:

James Clear: All habit streaks end at some point. Everybody slips up at some point. The mantra that I like to keep in mind for that is: never miss twice.

If I work out at the gym Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and I miss on Friday — because of a business trip or whatever — then I need to put all my energy into making sure I get in there on Monday. I don’t want to miss twice in a row.

It’s pretty much never the first mistake that ruins you. It’s the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. So if you can get back on track quickly… I think I had a line in the book: “Missing once is a mistake, missing twice is the start of a new habit.”

Rich Roll: Yeah, cause then it creates its own negative momentum.

James Clear: Exactly.

Source: Rich Roll podcast, episode 401

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Habits & Identity

James Clear on the effect that habits have on your self-image:

Your habits are the way that you embody a particular identity. So, every morning that you make your bed, you embody the identity of an organized person. Every time you go to the gym, you embody the identity of someone who’s fit. Every time you sit down to write, you embody the identity of someone who’s a writer.

Every action you take is kind of like a vote for the type of person that you believe that you are. As you take these actions, you build up evidence of a particular identity, and pretty soon your beliefs have something to root themselves in. It’s like, “Man, I showed up at the gym for 4 days a week for the last three months; I guess I’m the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts” — and that I think is the true reason why habits are so important.

Once I realized how beliefs and behaviors are connected, that it’s this two-way street… then I started to think that this is really something. Not only does it deliver those external results — the clean room, or the bigger bank account — but also the internal results of shaping your sense of self-image and what you believe.

Source: Rich Roll podcast, episode 401

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