Habit building and change making have been such an important part of my life. Twelve years ago I went from having a steady job as a web designer in Montreal and a rather settled lifestyle, to go travel to Morocco on a one-way ticket and become a location independent freelancer. I went from hating running, having a light form of asthma, to running on a regular basis for years now and reaching my goal of running a sub 20min 5k. I’ve experimented with meditation, with all imaginable sorts of diet, creating those habits and finding the right place for them in my life. So here are, I believe, 3 useful habit crafting tools I’ve picked up along the way.
1- Draw your willpower from previous experience
This doesn’t have to be directly related to the change you’re trying to make or the new habit you are trying to install. You only need to reconnect on an emotional level with an experience you’ve had where you were pushing your boundaries so hard that you went completely out of your comfort zone and achieved what you would have previously thought to be impossible. Your brain was more likely forced to create new neural pathways, and we want to use that. So the goal here is to use this past experience and transform it into a “belief”. You want to use it to your advantage so it becomes fuel for motivation. The reason why I suggest reconnecting on an emotional level is because emotions help us trigger related memories that can enrich and inform our state on a much deeper level. So once the belief is well known and felt, you simply need to give it your full attention and keep acknowledging it to give it power. This power is your first push, it’s your fuel for change and habit building.
2- Surround yourself with the shortest form of motivational material
It’s so easy to get caught into motivational materials. In fact most people get stuck there. It’s 8pm, you go on the Amazon or Audible website, spend an hour shopping for the best reviewed and thickest book you can find on the topic. You happily click “buy”, download the book, read 2 chapters, put it aside for the night and never get back to it. This is a typical example of failing at using motivational material and this is why I recommend looking for the shortest form of content you can find. Motivational material should be used as a fuel. It shouldn’t replace the object of motivation though. If you get more excited about reading the book than your first intention of creating a new habit or making an important change in your life, you’ve only confused your brain, the excitement won’t last. YouTube videos and Instagram posts can be great forms of content for example. Quotes are also super effective because they are light and compact, they’re the distillate of an idea. They are dense material that has been cleverly tailored for rapid consumption. They also often contain a “Wow” moment, which is priceless. That little rise in your focus will help you put your full attention at the right place. So when it comes to motivational material, think short and often.
3 – Do it EVERY DAY
You might think this isn’t something for everyone and every situation, but I promise you it is. There’s is no reason for not giving power to an idea or a belief every single day. For the religious ones, it’s called prayer. For the professional athletes, it’s called training. For all human beings it’s called sleep, eat, breathe. To create a new habit or make an important change, you need to make space for it on a perfectly regular basis. It doesn’t mean to execute 7 days a week. It means to take some time to give it your full attention every day. Again one of the key here is your BS, your belief system. The reason why you do anything you do in life, is because of your current belief system. So why not empowering yourself with the freedom of shaping and sculpting it to your liking. Becoming the conscious creator of your life. “Every day” is full dedication and dedication is a self-propelling machine. Once you are fully dedicated, fuel is not needed anymore and you’re becoming the change. The new habit has merged seamlessly with your life.
I wish you all the very best of change!