Author of Atomic Habits James Clear is a bit of a Guru when it comes to habits. It's his specialty area and he has many excellent insights and strategies to share. The video below gives a great overview of some key factors to successfully building new habits.
Here are some key takeaways from the video:
Habit Strategy - try it
MAKE IT EASIER ON YOURSELF
The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impossible to do. And the best way to create a good habit is to automate it so you never have to think about it again.
There are certain one-time-actions you can take to help make forming new habits, or stop repeating old habits. These are actions that set yourself up for success.
James surveyed his readers on their favourite onetime actions that lead to better long-term habits. Here are a few of the popular answers…
Nutrition: Use smaller plates to reduce caloric intake.
Sleep: Remove your television (or phone) from your bedroom.
Productivity: Delete games and social media apps from your phone.
Focus: Set your phone in Do Not Disturb mode.
Happiness: Get a dog.
Health: Buy better shoes to avoid back pain.
Finance: Visit a Financial Advisor and set up a budget plan, with checks and measures in place.
These illustrate a range a simple onetime actions... you're only limited by your imagination, what could you do to make a habit easier to form?
Habit Strategy - try it
THE HABIT SCORECARD
James says, "One of our greatest challenges in changing habits is maintaining awareness of what we are actually doing." We don't see the consequences of bad habits in the moment, but they can sneak up on us. Creating a Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behaviour, and then modify it.
Follow James's instructions below on how to create a habits scorecard.
To create your own Habits Scorecard, start by making a list of your daily habits.
Once you have a full list, look at each behaviour, and ask yourself, “Is this a good habit, a bad habit, or a neutral habit?” If it is a good habit, write “+” next to it. If it is a bad habit, write “–”. If it is a neutral habit, write “=”.
For example, the list above might look like this:
An important side note:
Scoring your habits can be a bit more complex than just stating good, bad, or neutral.
James says, 'The labels “good habit” and “bad habit” are slightly inaccurate. There are no good habits or bad habits. There are only effective habits. That is, effective at solving problems. All habits serve you in some way—even the bad ones—which is why you repeat them.'
When completing your Habits Scorecard, you should categorise your habits by how they will benefit you in the long run. Generally speaking:
- Good habits will have net positive outcomes.
- Bad habits have net negative outcomes.
eg. Smoking a cigarette may reduce stress right now (that’s how it’s serving you), but it’s not a healthy long-term behaviour.
Still having trouble deciding if a particular habit is good or bad, here are two pertinent questions to ask yourself:
“Does this behaviour help me become the type of person I wish to be?"
“Does this behaviour move me closer towards, or further away from my goal?"
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