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Hey everyone, Kosio Angelov here, founder of High Performance Lifestyle, with another productivity boosting training for you. Today I want to talk about habits. Habits make you go to bed at a certain time, they make you wake up at a certain time, they make you behave in specific ways on different occasions. Habits, for lack of a better word, control your life.
Of course, there are good habits and there are bad habits, and your productivity is largely dependent on the difference between your good habits and your bad habits. If you have more good, productive, healthy habits, you’re going to be more productive, you’re going to get more stuff done, and you’re going to be more successful. If you have more bad habits, then it’s going to be that much harder for you to actually succeed.
The Paradox of Habit Formation
How do you form new habits? It’s very interesting. If you think about it, bad habits are formed so easily; you just repeat a certain behavior over and over again, you don’t even notice you’re doing it, and then boom! It becomes a habit, and you don’t even know it.
But when you try to form a new productive habit, what happens? You decide you’re going to do something new, and then you’re all excited, you’re all pumped up, you’re going to change the world, this is going to be awesome, you’re motivated; you do it for three days, and then on the fourth day, your motivation runs out. And what do you do then? That’s when it becomes really challenging. Once your motivation runs out, that’s when habit formation really becomes a challenge. It’s easy when you’re all pumped up, but when your motivation goes away, that’s when most people fail at creating new habits.
And that’s exactly what I want to address today. I want to give you a very simple, very effective framework for creating new habits – and not only for creating new habits, but for sticking to them, making the new change a habit.
The Habit Formation Trifecta
I like to call this the Habit Formation Trifecta. Let me show you how it works.
1. Do It First Thing In The Morning
First, your new habits should be done first thing in the morning. Why is that? Why first thing in the morning? When you introduce a new change to your life, it’s hard, because we are creatures of habit; we are accustomed to doing things in a specific way. When you’re introducing change, it’s going to require a certain amount of willpower, a certain amount of discipline in order for you to actually make that change happen, break away from the old way of doing things, and make a new change.
Your willpower and your discipline are like a muscle: they get depleted. You can work them out, you can get them stronger, but also you can exhaust them. In the morning, your willpower is the strongest. You just had a good night’s sleep, you’re mentally clear, you’re physically pumped up. When you’re trying to do something new, it’s going to be easiest to do it in the morning. Your willpower is at its peak and change is easier.
Think about the end of your day. You’re coming back after a long day of work, and you don’t want to be doing new stuff. You want to be relaxing. You want to be doing the old stuff, the stuff that relaxes you. If you come back and you’re physically depleted, you’re mentally “not there”, and then you want to do a new change, it’s going to be hard. That’s why new habits are most easily formed in the morning.
Ideally, you’re going to do it as the first thing in the morning, but if that’s not possible, do it as close to the morning as possible. Maybe you cannot doing it immediately upon waking up, but try to do it as close to that as possible. Maybe do it 2 hours after you wake up, maybe three hours. The closer you get it to when your willpower is at its peak, the easier it’s going to be for you to make that change actually happen.
2. Eliminate Friction
#2 has everything to do with eliminating friction. What do I mean by eliminating friction? Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you’re trying to form a new habit of jogging for 30 minutes in the morning, and you’re all excited, you’re all pumped up. You wake up at the break of dawn, you’re proud of yourself that you actually did not snooze through your alarm. You start getting ready, and…you cannot find your sneakers. You look in the closet, you look around your bed, you look everywhere; your sneakers are nowhere to be found.
In the meantime, in the back of your head, the internal voice is saying, “Are you crazy? Go back to bed. This is so hard. It’s morning. You’re supposed to be asleep.” But you’re persevering. You’re looking for your sneakers, and then you find them. And then you’re about to get out and actually start jogging, and you realize your iPod is not charged, and you cannot run without music.
This obstacle after obstacle is going to make it hard for you to actually follow through and get out and actually start jogging. Maybe you’re going to persevere on the first one, but maybe when you’ve realized that your iPod is not charged, you’re going to say, “It’s too hard. Let’s go back to bed. Maybe today’s not the day. I’ll do it tomorrow.”
That’s friction. Friction are all those little obstacles that you need to jump over in order to make the new change happen. Friction is all those little things that need to fall in place in order for you to go from getting out of bed to actually jogging.
How do you eliminate friction? It’s very easy. The day before you want to start your new habit, take 5 minutes and quietly sit somewhere and think about the entire process. Visualize yourself going from purely waking up, all the way to you actually out there jogging. What do you need to do? When do you wake up? Do you go to the bathroom? Do you go get some water? Do you get prepared? What are you going to wear? Where are your sneakers? Charge your iPod. What do you need to get? Do you get your keys, do you get your water?
No step is too small, because in the morning when you’re all excited to go and do it, any little obstacle can really set you back and make you give up. It’s important for you to visualize everything that needs to happen and then go and prepare it.
Set yourself up for success.
Leave your sneakers right next to your bed. Leave your keys right in front of the door so you cannot not take them. Charge your iPod. Take all the little steps that need to happen, prepare in advance, set yourself up for success.
Let’s say your new habit is to write a blog post in the morning. Set up your computer in such a way that when you actually get to your office or to your place of work, the only thing that’s waiting for you is your computer, on, with your word processor right then and there. Because if you need to go and start your computer and then you realize your software needs to be updated and then you put up your word processor and then something else happens, you might give up on that new habit.
Eliminating friction is preparing everything in advance, setting yourself up for success so the next day when you get to that new habit, that new change, you can just get right into it with as little friction as possible. If you face too much friction, it’s going to make it harder. There is a point where friction becomes so much that it actually makes you give up. Plan everything in advance; no step is too little, no obstacle is too little. Visualize from the day before, prepare everything in advance, eliminate friction.
3. Start Small
And last, #3 is all about starting small. This is the key to this whole process.
Starting small is what gets you out of the door.
Think about it like this: if the last time you jogged was 5 years ago, and you’re trying to go from not jogging at all to 30 minutes per day, that might be hard. You might be setting yourself up for failure. Start small.
Figure out the smallest amount of action you can take, slash it in half; start there.
Set up the goal that you’re going to jog for 2 minutes. That’s your goal. Two minutes. It sounds ridiculous, but here’s the logic behind it: when you set up the goal for 2 minutes and you start super small, there’s no excuse for you not to do it, because if you set up your goal for 30 or 45 minutes, you can rationalize yourself out of it. You can be like, “Oh, but maybe it’s going to be too hard; 30 minutes is a lot of time. Maybe I can do something else.” You can rationalize your way out of it. When you set up the goal so small and you set it up for 2 minutes, there is no excuse for not doing it.
Also, the second and the more important reason for starting small is it gets you out of the door. It gets you actually doing that new thing, doing that new habit. It sounds cliché, but the first step is the hardest. This is all designed to get you to the first step, and this is the key. Starting small.
Imagine you’re out there, you’ve set up your goal for 2 minutes, you’re jogging; you’re not going to jog for 2 minutes. You’re out there; you’ll get to a point where you’re going to say to yourself, “I’m already here. I might as well follow through and jog for 10.” You set up your goal for 2, you went and jogged for 10, and now you feel like a success.
That’s another key point. If you set up the goal to be super small, you set yourself up for success, because if you set it up for 30 minutes and then you go and do 20, you’re going to feel like a failure. And then the next day, you’re not going to have the motivation to actually do it again. But if you set up your goal for 2 minutes and you do 20 minutes, you just did 10 times more. Now you’re excited, you’re proud of yourself; you go and tell your friends, you go and tell your family. Everybody’s excited.
Starting small is key. Set up the goal to be super small. Two minutes of jogging, flossing one tooth, writing three sentences, writing one page. Get yourself started. Once you’re there, you’re going to do more. You’re going to surpass your goal.
And by the way, starting small is key to forming new habits. I’m not saying you should set low goals for yourself; that’s a whole different topic. But when it comes to habit formation, starting small is absolutely essential.
Over To You Now
And there you have it: the Habit Formation Trifecta. Do it first thing in the morning when your willpower is at its peak, eliminate all those little obstacles that can prevent you from taking action, and start small. Set up the goal to be super small so it can actually get you from thinking about it to actual execution.
Repeat this framework over and over again. It works for any habits. It works for creating healthy habits, creating habits about productivity. It works. This is a universal framework that you just need to put to work, and you’re going to see how habits become easy. When you’re faced with a new challenge and a new change and a new habit, you’ll be like, “Hit me with it. It’s easy now I have the framework.”
There is this big misconception in productivity and time management that stuff needs to be complicated in order for it to work. This is not complicated. Anybody can do it, and it’s easy – and more importantly, it works. It’s a simple framework; you just need to put it to use and form your new habits.
I hope this serves you. I hope you actually implement it. Habits are not a challenge once you have a framework that you can work with. Simply put it to work. Implement it. Because if you just look at this video and you never actually do the steps, unfortunately, no change is going to happen.
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What are some of the new habits you are going to form with the Habit Formation Trifecta framework? Share in the comment section below: