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The Guide to Habits

Changing a habit

...means changing the cue that triggers it.

Instead of focusing on developing the habit of “working out,” develop the habit of putting yourself in the position to work out regularly: get home, get into workout clothes, prepare you water, go to the gym. 

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The Guide to Habits

The Guide to Habits

https://markmanson.net/downloads/habits

markmanson.net

8

Key Ideas

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, the more you’ll have of it.

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.

Habits are comprised of 3 main parts:

  • An environmental cue (that triggers your brain to initiate a habit);
  • behavioral response (the manifestation of the habit);
  • reward (that reinforces the habit).

Changing a habit

...means changing the cue that triggers it.

Instead of focusing on developing the habit of “working out,” develop the habit of putting yourself in the position to work out regularly: get home, get into workout clothes, prepare you water, go to the gym. 

There’s no magical number...

...of days to form a new habit.

Instead, habits come about gradually over time and in a non-linear fashion.

Making a good habit stick requires:

  1. Knowing the basics about how habits form and how they work
  2. Adjusting your perception about the habit you want to build - If the habit seems impossible, then it will feel harder
  3. Planning for when things go wrong

Missing a habit is not the end of the world

While consistency is key, missing one or a handful of opportunities to practice the desired habit will not ruin your chances at establishing that habit in the long run. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Focus On Keystone Habits

Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. 

Exercise is a good example of this. Once you start to change your exercise habits, it sets off a chain reaction t...

Use “Minimum Viable Effort”

Focus on baby steps. The key to new good habits is to do the minimum and be consistent.

Do not be ambitious at the beginning. That leads to failure. Consistency is what you’re shooting for, so make the hurdle as low as possible.

Make A Plan

Thinking about the details makes you more likely to follow through. 

Just writing down your plan also makes a big difference in effectively committing to your goals.

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Habits and behavior change
Building habits to change behavior the right way can be a wonderful tool to improve your life. But false notions about what habits are and what they can do can ...
Habits are a type of learning

They generate an impulse to do a behavior with little or no conscious thought.

By forming a habit, the brain frees the mind to do other things without deliberation. So behaviors that require concentration, deliberation, or extended effort, are not habits.

What drives motivation

Motivation is not driven by pleasure and pain, but rather by the desire to escape discomfort.

Our brains get our bodies to do what they want through discomfort. And the same rule applies to psychological discomfort. 

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Self-Control

 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

Research on Self-Control
  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 
Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

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How To Choose Good Habits
  • Envision your ideal end result. What are you going to achieve?
  • Write it down. It will serve as a powerful motivation, especially if you include why you want it.
Good Habits For Health and Fitness
  • Regular Aerobic Exercise: Great for both your physical and mental health. Increases the production of dopamine and boosts creativity.
  • Preparing Your Own Meals. It’ll take some getting used to, but it’s a habit that’ll boost your health, wealth and productivity. 
Good Habits For Finance and Wealth
  • Create a Household Budget: the best habit to help you save money. A household budget helps to encourage frugality and discourage impulse spending. You’ll feel more motivated to engage in other good financial habits once you’ve got this in place.
  • Financial Audits. This involves frequent checks as to whether you’re spending your money as wisely as possible.

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Starting good habits and sticking to them
  1. Harness the dopamine effect: identify the desired outcome. Mentally walking yourself through the process of success and the joys and benefits it brings can teach your brain to be motiva...
B. J. Fogg
B. J. Fogg
“It’s much easier and it’s much more reliable to start habits that are small and get them firmly rooted in the ground by feeling successful”
Habits You Should Track

Factors to consider when choosing a new habit to track:

  • Motivation: choose a habit you personally care about. If you pick a habit out of a sense of obligation, your motivation wil...
Tackle One Behavior At a Time

You can’t fully focus on any behavior if you try to establish several at once. 

Doing so risks overloading your willpower and your habits may end up competing for priority.

“Stack” Your Habits

The best way to turn a behavior into a habit is to use a trigger to remind yourself to do it. Your trigger needs to be something you always do anyway. Anything you already do without thinking works.

As you build new habits, you create new triggers for yourself and stack a new habit onto it. Each existing habit acts as a trigger to remind you to complete the next one until it becomes natural to do both together. 

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