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The Power Of Small Changes Over Time

Achieving your personal goals can be challenging; although many people love transformation, the change that is required to get there can be difficult for some. James Clear, the author of, Atomic Habits, explains that atomic habits (which are regular practices or routines) are key to achieving your goals. In the book, he says that “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” In today’s blog, we’ll explain his process on how to build better habits in four simple steps.

The Four-Step Process

James states that there are four keys to helping you build new habits. The more of these you have working for you, the more easily you’ll be able to implement change. In a recent podcast he did on “Unlocking Us with Brené Brown” James said that collectively, these prime the good habits to be the path of least resistance. The four steps are:

  1. Have cues that will prompt your actions
  2. Make the habit be appealing to you
  3. Make it easy, convenient, and simple
  4. Make it satisfying to you

Make it obvious

For step one, you’ll want to design your space to build good habits. James also states that it’s easier to build a new habit in a new environment than to try and overpower old habits in your old environments. An example of this may be if you’re wanting to read more and watch less TV. Instead of spending your time on the couch in the living room at night (where you would normally sit and watch TV) you have a different designated spot in the house to read at night and have your book set out ahead of time as a reminder you’ll see throughout the day.

Make it attractive

For step two on making the habit more appealing, simply reframing your thoughts can help turn something you need to do into something you get to do. Instead of telling yourself you have to go for a run, think of it instead as time to get stronger and more fit. Think of the benefits you’ll gain from starting the habit and reframe any negative associations you have with it into something positive.

Make it easy

With step three, James says that a habit must be established before it can be improved upon, so start small. He suggests to start with spending just 2 minutes a day working towards your goal. Having something you do consistently is key to building momentum and you’ll find that soon those 2 minutes will turn to 5, then 10, then half an hour, and so on as you progress more and more over time.

Make it satisfying

And finally, step four. If we can make experiences enjoyable or have a reward in place for completing them, it will be something we will return to again and again. Reinforcing good behaviors with an incentive can help motivate us to begin a habit. It’s more important to focus on reinforcing the habits you’re trying to adopt and build instead of focusing solely on the goal and outcome.

Opposingly, these steps also work if you are trying to break a habit. You would do the opposite of the above steps though and keep it out of sight, make it difficult, unattractive, and have a consequence.