When habits are too slow - Deepstash

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What are the Limits of Building Better Habits?

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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Willpower is like a muscle

Just like going to the gym and building up strength, the more you train your willpower by accomplishing tasks on a consistent basis

Habits = “automatic” responses...

 ...to familiar environmental cues. 

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

Self-Discipline - a series of healthy habits

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.

The Confusion Of Habit and Routine
The Confusion Of Habit and Routine

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.

Building habits

The basic process for building all habits is basically the same: you repeatedly condition the behavior you want, over time, until it becomes automatic.

But no habit starts out auto...

Conditioning a habit
2 main ways you can condition a habit:
  • Classical conditioning: a paired association with a trigger and a behavior. Going to the gym after you wake up each morning is this kind of habit.
  • Operant conditioning: you not only associate a trigger with a behavior, but you reward that pairing, to accelerate the habit-forming process.
The 30-Day Trial

You commit to some change for 30 days, then tou can go back to your old ways. But having spent thirty days applying a new behavior is often enough to convince you to stick with it.

Pros:

  • Can handle more significant/difficult behavior changes you might be unlikely to start with a perpetual commitment.
  • Fosters an experimental mindset, rather than assuming you already know what’s best.

Cons:

  • 30 days probably isn’t enough to actually make something a habit.
  • Without a long-term plan, many 30-day trials will revert back to the original behavior.