What are the Limits of Building Better Habits? - Deepstash

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What are the Limits of Building Better Habits?

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/09/21/habit-limits/

scotthyoung.com

What are the Limits of Building Better Habits?
Can you achieve anything just by building better habits? After decades of experiments, I share what can and can't be done.

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The limits of habits

The limits of habits

Habit-building is a powerful tool for self-improvement. But the power of the tool can also create some overreach. In one way, habits will fail to form.

In other circumstances, habits are not the right way of thinking for making progress on some goals.

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Not all behaviors can be easily automated

Many habits are simply routines, but not all of them. _For example, there isn't a habit for a hard workout at the gym - you won't become absent-minded midway through a benchpress.

  • Habits are behaviors that flow automatically from a set of prompts.
  • Routines are behaviors we repeatedly do but involve many deliberate actions done with some effort and thinking.

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Habits aren’t commitments

  • A commitment is a rule you've added for yourself. "I must exercise five times per week." But if you break that commitment, it can result in a backsliding effect.
  • A habit is that behavior that happens automatically from a triggering situation.

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When habits are too slow

The habit-forming philosophy is that you should do things slowly and steadily. Slow and steady leads to a more sustainable strategy for the long-run. But in many areas, this strategy doesn't apply.

  • In many difficult projects, such as starting a business or going back to school, it is necessary to put in a bigger effort at the start.
  • When learning a language, slow and steady may be disastrous initially as it tends to push people to passive learning techniques that are ineffective.

The mistake here is assuming slow or fast always works best, without first checking if your specific strategy will be the best approach.

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The limits of human nature

We cannot assume that we can change our behavior in any way we please, and with enough time, the new behavior will become a habit.

  • Behavior may never become effortless.
  • A habit that requires you to sleep only four hours will eventually make you exhausted.
  • We have a deep need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. A habit that brushes one of these needs aside won't last.

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When habits are useful

  • Habits are useful when you focus on patiently persisting over a long period, rather than short bursts.
  • The behavior you require can eventually run on autopilot while not requiring lots of deliberate effort.
  • You're looking to make long-term changes to your routine or lifestyle rather than a temporary condition.

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Long term change is better served by building better habits, than by forcing your willpower. 

You will choose the apple over the cake for a number of times ... and then give up. Building a habit to start the day by going to the gym will work better.

Habits = “automatic” responses...

 ...to familiar environmental cues. 

They form when you engage in a behavior repeatedly in the presence of consistent stimuli.

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The Confusion Of Habit and Routine

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Habits are programmed human behaviors with little or zero conscious thought. Habits free our minds to other things, but our behavior isn’t always on autopilot. There are many tasks that require con...

Understanding Motivation

Neurologically speaking, motivation is the desire to escape psychological discomfort or a life situation that is not giving us any kind of ‘pleasure’.

Most behaviors are prompted by discomfort. If we are hungry, we eat. If we are lonely, we call up a friend. If we are bored, we turn on the TV.

The Test

If we are procrastinating instead of doing a certain task, telling ourselves that we would it later, it is a sure sign that the task isn’t a habit which can be done on autopilot but is, in fact, a routine.

Anything that requires effort is easy to forget or postpone.

Everyone wants to cultivate better habits. The problem is very few of us want to do the work to make those habits a reality.

Develop better habits by:

  • Thinking really small: it accumulates and adds up in a big way;
  • Shifting your evironment, so that good habits are easier to keep;
  • Piggybacking new habits on old habits: 
  • Surrounding yourself with good people:
  • Keeping it simple: short lists, reachable;
  • Picking yourself up when you fall.