Reminders, Routines and Rituals
We all want to make changes in our lives, but it’s easier said than done! So what is the trick to making lasting change? It’s more than self-control. According to author James Clear in his groundbreaking book Atomic Habits, “Self-control is a short-term strategy, not a long-term one.” We need to create structures to be successful.
When you focus on the WAY you’re going to make the change, you’re more likely to succeed. You can do this by using three specific concepts
Reminders. Make it obvious. If you want to exercise, put your sneakers where you will trip over them. Have your exercise clothes out and waiting for you. Put the day and time you will exercise on your calendar. Set an alert on your phone. Put notes where you will see them. Today’s behavioral scientists trace change back to the 1936 equation of Kurt Lewin: Behavior is a function of the Person in their Environment or B+ƒ(PE). When we see things in our environment, we modify our actions. It’s the number one concept of marketing… we all need to SEE what we want.
Routines. Use your daily routines as leverage. Look at what you do every day, the same way and often at the same time of day. Then schedule or put the new habit or change in between two things you do without really thinking. For example, if you want to take vitamins every morning, take them after you finish breakfast and before you wash your dishes. By wrapping the change with two existing activities, you’re more likely to remember it.
Rituals. By rituals, I’m talking about the things you do because that’s who you ARE. For example, I have a clean desktop because I’m an organized person. I say no to cigarettes because I don’t smoke. It’s time to think about yourself in a new way. You are healthy; you are efficient, you are organized – and thus your only option is to BE healthy, efficient and organized. As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no Try.” When we think of ourselves and define ourselves in new ways, our brains will make it easier to act that way. Yes, there is an element of “Fake it until you make it” going on, but it goes much deeper. It’s about the message you tell yourself each and every moment.
Quick Tip: focus on your environment (make it easy to change), your schedule and the words you tell yourself about who you are!