Building good habits can be hard. Half of dieters give up within one week of starting. So what is the answer to lasting change? How do you make it easier to achieve? Dr. Sean Young studies behavior change. He has helped people develop good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. He literally wrote the book, “Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life-for Good.” In episode #211, I covered how to break bad habits. So in this episode of Best in Wealth, we are going to cover how to stick with it and build good habits in 2023.
Outline of This Episode
- [1:29] What are your good habits?
- [4:54] Step #1: Small steps beat big dreams
- [6:28] Step #2: Call for backup (do it with friends)
- [7:46] Step #3: Why is it important?
- [8:41] Step #4: Make it easy to accomplish
- [10:35] Step #5: Act before you think
- [12:23] Step #6: Make sure you reward yourself
- [13:58] Step #7: Build a routine
- [15:57] Answer these three questions
Step #1: Small steps beat big dreams
Focusing on small steps allows you to achieve goals faster. It keeps you happier and more motivated to keep trying because you get rewarded more frequently. Consistency is the most important part of building habits. It is not a habit when you are not consistent, right? If you want to create a new habit, simplify the behavior to make it easily achievable. You are more likely to stick with it.
Step #2: Call for backup
Just like you need an accountability partner to break bad habits, you need one to help you develop good habits. Be around people who are doing what you are doing. Social support and competition foster change. If you want to become healthier, do not hang out at the bar—hang out at the gym. Spend time with people who are aligned with your goals.
Step #3: Why is it important?
Why do you want to build this habit in the first place? When a doctor says, “Change your diet or you will be dead in six months,” you are motivated to change. Why is making this change important to you? What answer(s) to this question will motivate you? Motivations around money, social connections, and health stick the most.
Step #4: Make it easy
The more hoops you have to jump through to accomplish something, the less likely you are to do it. When you are trying to break a bad habit, you want to make it as hard as possible to do that thing. It is the opposite with building good habits. What can you do to simplify it and make it easier? According to Sean’s research, if you make it 3–20 seconds easier to start, you are more likely to do it. To make completing our morning workout easier, we set out our workout clothes on the bathroom counter. I will even get our water bottles ready.
Step #5: Act before you think
Do not try to change your mind so your behavior will change. Change your behavior and your mind will follow. People think they can change their behavior by imagining change. But Dr. Young believes this is wrong. You will not stop smoking by willing yourself to do so. Change your actions first. Just do it.
Step #6: Make sure you reward yourself
Research shows that every habit has three components:
- The trigger for an automatic behavior to start
- The behavior itself
- The reward
Rewarding yourself is how your brain learns patterns and makes them automatic. What can you give yourself to enjoy as soon as a behavior is done? Is it chocolate? A smoothie? A few minutes of relaxation? What is important is that there is a reward.
Step #7: Build a routine
When does it happen? Where does it happen? How does it start and end? Repeat this. It is easier to build a routine if you can do something at the same time and in the same place every day. It will teach your brain that it needs to remember this behavior. How do you build a routine around the habit you want to build? Tune in to the whole episode to learn more!
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The Best In Wealth Podcast is hosted by Scott Wellens. Scott Wellens is the principal at Fortress Planning Group. Fortress Planning Group is a registered investment advisory firm regulated by the Securities Act of Wisconsin in accordance and compliance with securities laws and regulations. Fortress Planning Group does not render or offer to render personalized investment or tax advice through the Best In Wealth Podcast. The information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, tax, investment or legal advice.