Implementing a New Habit
While I’m blending ghee and C8 MCT oil into my coffee in the morning, I like to do 1 set of 30 standing calf raises. And as I prepare a second cup of coffee for later on in the day, I do a second set of 30 calf raises. While on my way to work, I use a hand grip strengthener and do 3 sets of 15 each hand as I wait for the traffic lights to turn green. These are two examples of how we can integrate new habits with what we are already doing regularly. Implementing a new habit can then become a painless process.
“Implementation intention” is described by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, as “a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act. That is, how you intend to implement a particular habit.” Just stating that we want to exercise more or read more, for instance, is not enough. We have to concretely plan ahead when and where we can start the given new habit based on our schedule. Depending on what we want to implement into our routine, certain times of the day may be more suitable than others. It’s all about “clarity” and being determined with mapping out how we want to reach our goal.
James Clear gives a few examples such as:
- Meditation. I will meditate for one minute at 7 a.m. in my kitchen. (Starting small is okay, as mentioned in One Simple Way to Build a New Habit for Good).
- Studying. I will study Spanish for twenty minutes at 6 p.m. in my bedroom.
- Exercise. I will exercise for one hour at 5 p.m. in my local gym.
What Clear calls “habit stacking” is one form of implementation intention created by Standford professor BJ Fogg. In this case, instead of focusing on the time and location for the new habit to be carried out, you just want to “pair” the new habit with another already built behavior. This might even be easier as the time and location have already been decided for the established habit. Clear gives a few examples like:
- Meditation. After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.
- Exercise. After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.
- Gratitude. After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.
You can then build more habits on top of the two first ones, or insert a new habit in between two already established behaviors, for instance. The choice is yours. This strategy leads to a great number of options to map out everything that you want to get done every day.
Starting a new habit to reach a specific goal can be done with ease. Planning ahead and being consistent is necessary, but not much more than that is needed. Commander Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL, said, “Consistency is the omnipotent force behind change.” One new habit at a time, one step at a time.
Until next time!
Clear, James. Atomic Habits : Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results : An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York, Avery, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House, 2018, pp. 69–79.
Divine, Mark. Unbeatable Mind : Forging Mental Toughness. United States, Mark Divine, United States, 2015, p. 14.
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