Building Good Habits

Building good habits can be very hard. It is especially hard to replace a bad habit with a good one. Eric Barker wrote a good post on his blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree recently discussing the science on this.

We all have habits. Many of them. Some are good like brushing our teeth. Some are not so good like watching too much TV. Some are just bad, like eating too much rich food and gaining weight. Wouldn’t you like to break some of your bad habits and replace them with good ones? I will guess you’ve tried that before and found it hard, very hard. You likely failed.

What if you had the benefit of science to show you how to do it effectively?

A lot has been written about creating and ending habits. Barker’s work is good because he draws on science to support his ideas. In a nutshell the science suggests the following about how to change or create a habit:

  1. Change in small steps – it is easier and works better.
  2. Get support – social support and social competition encourages us to change – think about Alcoholics Anonymous.
  3. Ask yourself why this change is important to you. You will not be motivated to change unless you think it is important.
  4. Make the process as easy on yourself as you can.
  5. Act before you think. Don’t try to change your mind so your behavior will change; change your behavior and your mind will change.
  6. Reward yourself.
  7. Build a routine.

These steps sound simple. They are simple, but they are also complex. They require you to follow certain steps in a certain way. Those steps and that way of doing them has been scientifically studied and proven to work.

Sean Young, PhD wrote a book: Stick with It – A Scientifically proven process for changing your life – for good. Young is an award-winning psychologist and director of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior.

B.J. Fogg wrote a book called Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change the Way We Think and Do. Fogg is a PhD scientist whose student, Mike Krieger, founded Instagram.

Howard S. Friedman PhD, and Leslie R. Martin, PhD, wrote the Longevity Project to discover how and why live long and are healthy.

These are but four of the scientists that Barker cites for the scientific studies that support the thesis of how to form habits. This is not anecdotal advice. It is science. It has been proven to work. Science does not make the task of changing and creating habits easy. It requires effort. It requires commitment. It requires persistence. But science teaches us what works.

So if you want to make progress in changing your habits learn from what science as shown to work and not work. You can read Barker’s full post here:
Good luck. Have fun. Make it happen.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.