Learn how habits work

Understand the nature of habits before you start your new habit journey.

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  • Bandura, Albert. “The primacy of self‐regulation in health promotion.” Applied Psychology 54.2 (2005): 245-254.
    1. Achievement of widespread health benefits requires merging the unique contributions of three models, each drawing on a different knowledge base. The first is a theoretical model that provides the guiding principles. The second is a translational and implementational model that converts theoretical principles into effective health practices. The third is a social diffusion model to promote widespread adoption of successful practices by functional adaptation to different life circumstances.

Map the current path

You need to understand why you do what you already do to change your habits permanently.

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  • Give yourself time and space to introspect about your current situation. Key questions to think through include – What is life like today? Where will your current path take you? What will your life be like in 1, 5, 10 years from now if you continue down the current path? What are the pros and cons of the current path? What are the benefits of changing?

Advice

  • For the cons of the current path, highlight any specific outcomes that you don’t want to happen. Take your best guess at which of your existing habits lead to these negative outcomes. Seek to understand the triggers and rewards for these existing habits. What catalyzes them? What do they give you (e.g., physically, emotionally)? Knowing the triggers and rewards enables you to comfortably replace these pre-existing bad habits later.
  • Techniques like meditation and journaling can help with introspection.
  • Root cause analysis like 5 Whys can help dig deeper.
  • You need the thoughts to come out unedited. You must unblock. If you feel stuck in initial attempts at introspection, I strongly recommend working through The Artist’s Way.

Examples

  • Nutrition: I eat poorly most of the time, making me feel really tired and unattractive. If I continue to eat like this, I will continue to gain weight and risk long-term issues. Eating healthier will take more time and probably be more expensive.
  • Fitness: I rarely exercise. When my friends ask me to do active things, I feel like I can’t keep up. If I continue down this path, I won’t be able to play sports with my kids or move around well when I’m older.
  • Mental Health: My mind is all over the place. I feel scattered and frenetic, it’s really hard to focus on the important task in front of me. Time passes, and it’s like, where did that week go? I don’t stop to smell the roses. I feel like if I keep going like this, my life will just flash before me and then it will be over.
  • Sleep: I am always tired, leaving me reliant on so much caffeine to get energized, do my job, and be there for my family. I feel like if I keep this up I will burn out in a year. I want to stop feeling exhausted. Late nights are so fun, but I really pay the price the next day.
  • Resources

    Awareness (Wearables)

    Pavlok

    Pavlok

    Smart Technology To Break Bad Habits

    pavlok.com

    HabitAware

    HabitAware

    Liv by HabitAware is the world’s first smart subconscious-behavior tracker and awareness trainer.

    www.habitaware.com
    Learn More


    Translate goals into habits

    Your goals are the finish line, your habits are the path to get there.

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    • Write your goals out clearly. Visualize each goal and confirm you have a concrete image of what you want to happen. Ensure there is measurable way to know when you’ve achieved each goal.
    • Deconstruct your goals into actionable chunks by brainstorming hypothesis habits that can help you realize your goals. [Note: Remember to resolve any hurdles from ‘Map the current path’ (above).]

    Advice

    • Test your set of hypothesis habits, asking yourself, “If I do this and only this, will I reach my goals?”
    • Double check your intuition with research to confirm there is a real link between your goals and your hypothesis habits.
    • Use the inversion technique to flip your thinking and ensure you avoid the worst outcomes, rather than only strive for the best.
    • There are two categories of resolutions: promotion goals, and prevention goals. Promotion goals are hopes and dreams, aspirations towards a future that is better than the present (“I will run a marathon.”) Prevention goals are duties and obligations, discipline-oriented targets to keep you on track (“I will go to the gym.”). Prevention goals generally have higher success rates in the long term, because they are about building reasonable habits and then maintaining them, not achieving an abstract goal.

    Examples

  • Nutrition: I want to lose 15 lbs. of fat and feel energized after a meal. By adding more vegetables to my diet and reducing my fast food intake, I can reach my goals.
  • Fitness: I want to run a 5k and be able to do 50 consecutive push-ups. By going to the gym twice a week and following the StrongLifts training program, I can get to my goals.
  • Mental Health: I want to feel present and focused most of the time. By meditating and journaling daily, I can start to train my mind and ensure I am focused on the right priorities.
  • Sleep: I want to wake up energized during the week for work. By giving myself at least 8 hours of sleep, I can make this happen.
  • Resources

    Information Portals

    WebMD

    WebMD

    WebMD provides timely and credible health information and services to consumers and healthcare professionals.

    www.webmd.com

    Everyday Health

    Everyday Health

    Everyday Health, Inc. operates a leading digital marketing and communications platform for healthcare companies that want to engage with consumers and healthcare professionals.

    www.everydayhealth.com

    VeryWell

    VeryWell

    Verywell is your source for reliable, understandable information on hundreds of health and wellness topics that always keeps the reasons you come to us in mind.

    www.verywell.com

    Health.com

    Health.com

    Health.com delivers relevant information in clear, jargon-free language that puts health into context in peoples’ lives.

    www.health.com

    Healthline Networks

    Healthline Networks

    Healthline’s mission is to be your most trusted ally in your pursuit of health and well-being.

    www.healthline.com

    Greatist

    Greatist

    Real facts and doable steps for your happiest life.

    greatist.com

    Curejoy

    Curejoy

    Curejoy provides expert Advice on Natural Cure, Fitness & Beauty.

    www.curejoy.com

    Fitner Media

    Fitner Media

    Train with the icons that inspire you

    fitner.co

    Personalized Meal Plans

    MakeMyPlate

    MakeMyPlate

    Lose weight through visual Eating Plans with thousands of healthy meal options

    www.makemyplate.co

    EatLove

    EatLove

    Personalized meal plans tailored to your family’s preferences, health needs and dietary goals.

    www.eatlove.is

    Supplement Efficacy

    Examine

    Examine

    Your unbiased source on nutrition and supplements.

    examine.com

    Information Portals

    BodyBuilding.com

    BodyBuilding.com

    The World’s #1 Online Fitness Website and Supplement Store!

    www.bodybuilding.com

    T Nation

    T Nation

    The World’s Largest Hardcore Training Site

    www.t-nation.com

    OneResult

    OneResult

    OneResult helps athletes gain the competitive advantage they need by delivering relevant, accessible, information on training, nutrition, and supplementation.

    www.oneresult.com
    Learn More

    Clearly define the new habits

    Write down exactly what you will do.

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    • For each habit, use SMART criteria and the cue -> routine model as guidance to write down exactly what you are going to do. (Note: For more on the T in SMART criteria, “Time-bound”, see “Set a time boundary“.)

    Advice

    • “Piggybacking” the cue for the new routine onto an existing habit (like flossing right after you brush your teeth) is widely recommended (per BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits).
    • Using an “if-then” implementation to map your cues onto routines can make writing out your new habits easier.
    • Frame the routine as actionable to-do’s, along with any detailed information needed to complete the task, to minimize any mental barriers and ambiguity (via Getting Things Done).

    Examples

  • Nutrition: I will include vegetables with my dinners. I will cook at home on Sundays so I can bring lunch to work instead of eating fast food.
  • Fitness: After I have my coffee on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will go to the gym and do the specified workout.
  • Mental Health: When I wake up, I will sit on a pillow and meditate, then journal on my laptop.
  • Sleep: 9 hours before I have to wake up the next day, I will get into bed.
  • Resources
    SMART Worksheets

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