If we could flip a switch, we would all be 100% more sustainable, more productive, more this, more that… Unfortunately, that’s not the way the world or human behaviour work, especially when we’ve been building habits for most of our lives with minimal concern on its personal or environmental impact. From the time we open our eyes in the morning to the time we jump back into our beds our daily lives are controlled by habits, and most go completely unnoticed.
There are two types of habits in our lives, Positive and Negative. Positive habits increase productivity, develop knowledge and relationships. Negative habits trigger stress, pessimistic thoughts and spread outrage. It’s easy enough to understand which is most beneficial to our wellbeing…
Most of us would have tried to change or develop habits over the course of our lives with varied success, whether that be exercising more regularly, quitting smoking, or trying to be more environmentally friendly. The main reasons we fail to change these habits is because we either attempt to change the wrong habits or we try to alter our habits in the wrong way. For example, trying to build a habit of going to the gym every morning is extremely hard but developing a habit of preparing your gym kit the night before and leaving it next to your bed so you can put it on as soon as your alarm goes off is much easier.
There are four laws to creating a good habit:
- Make habits obvious – best way to do this is schedule a regular time to do something, add to a calendar, set alarms, etc.
- Make good behaviour attractive – Make things fun, enrol a buddy to do things with and keep you accountable. Reward yourself for following through with tasks!
- Make it easy – Start small, small easy tasks guarantee success and provide a starting point. Preparing your gym kit the night before and eating more veg with each meal is a whole lot easier than 7 planned gym sessions a week and going full vegan.
- Make it satisfying – Monitoring progress and receiving feedback is a great way to reinforce habits. Use a Fitbit to track fitness progression, count how many plastic bottles you may have gone through since going plastic free, etc.
All great things emerge from modest beginnings. The genesis of every habit is a single, small choice. A lot of the time the fear of making these choices and the potential failure far outweighs the actual pain or sacrifice in developing new habits. There’s no wrong place or time to start a change. If you continue a new habit, you will hit a tipping point and gain success.