5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits That Stick

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5 Scientific Ways to Build Habits That Stick
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." Sobering words from Aristotle, and an astute reminder that success doesn't come overnight. On the contrary, it's discipline that gets you from Point A to the often elusive Point B.


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“Micro quotas”

In the process of finding a balance between your desire to dream big and your day-to-day activities, create macro quotas.

These refer to the minimum amounts of work that...

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Behavior chains

Creating new habits that stick is easier if we make use of our current routines, instead of trying to fight them.

Use "if-then planning": choose a regular part of your schedule and the...


Simplify decision-making

Making repeated choices depletes our mental energy, even if these choices are mundane and pleasant.

If you want to maintain long term discipline, aim for fewer decisions during the day...

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Plan, but don’t fantasize

Excessive fantasizing about results can be extremely harmful when building new habits. The mistake is in what we visualize.

For proper visualization, there are 2 steps:

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    Eliminate “ah-screw-its”

    These are the specific moments where you find yourself saying, “Screw this, it’s not worth the effort!” 

    Examine your habit and find exactly where things start to break down. N...

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    How to Develop Habits

    • Focus on just one habit, for 30 days.
    • Put it on paper, together with your motivations, obstacles, and strategies for overcoming them.
    • Commit fully, pr...

    attributed to Aristotle

    attributed to Aristotle

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”



    “Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”

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    Having No Routine

    Having no routine or structure is so much more draining mentally, physically, and emotionally than any routine could ever be.

    Why You Need a Routine

    • It gives you structure, builds forward-moving habits, and creates momentum that will carry you on the days when you feel like you don't have the strength to carry yourself.
    • Following a daily routine can help you establish priorities, limit procrastination, keep track of goals, and even make you healthier. 
    • It lowers your reliance on willpower and motivation.

    Start the day with a mantra

    ... to get you into a positive mood for the day ahead. Put your mind in a good state right away, because left unchecked it will try to tell you the things that are wrong.

    Pick a phrase or question that resonates with you. It could be as simple as smiling and saying "thank you" out loud, acknowledging that you have been gifted with another day.

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    Struggling To Build Healthy Habits

    • We tend to bite off more than we can chew, go too fast too soon, and then get overwhelmed too quickly.
    • We’re conditioned these days to expect and receive instant gratification.

    Your “Big Why”

    As you’re determining the habits or resolutions you’re trying to set, make the habit part of a bigger cause that’s worth the struggle.

    You’re not just going to the gym, you’re building a new body that you’re not ashamed of so you can start dating again.

    Healthy Habit Building 101

    There are 3 parts to a good or bad habit: Cue (what triggers the action), Routine (the action itself), Reward (the positive result because of the action).

    You have trained your brain to take a cue (you see a doughnut), anticipate a reward (a sugar high), and make the behavior automatic (nom that donut). 

    Compare that to a cue (you see your running shoes), anticipate a reward (a runner’s high), and make the behavior automatic (go for a run!).

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