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How to make good habits easier to do and bad habits easier to get rid of…

By Marcus Santer

good-habits

Some dog walks I wish could last forever.

Like this mornings.

Walking across the golf course with the ocean on one side, the hills on the other and the Ex estuary in front of me – all bathed in the beautiful early morning sunshine…

Well it was heavenly.

(Here’s a list of 11 benefits you can get from regular daily walks)

And I found myself asking the question: ‘What more do you want Marcus?’

And at that moment, my only desire was to keep walking.

And as I walked I reflected back to last nights call with my good friend Jay.

(Social connections are vital to your health, here’s the only social skill you’ll ever need)

The focus was on how to remove barriers to the good things/habits you want to do and how to add barriers to the bad things/habits you don’t want to do.

Let me explain with an example, because this is powerful stuff.

Jay likes making music on his computer.

Once his systems all set up he can lose hours flowing with the music he’s creating.

But…

Due to a lack of space, the keyboard he uses is in a separate room, there’s a load of cables to plug in, space to be made on his desk and here’s the problem…

Thinking about the barriers (even though they’re small ones) that have to be overcome in order to get set up, well, they’re enough to stop Jay making as much music as he would like.

So he was telling me last night, about the new keyboard he’s bought, something fancy that effectively removes all of the barriers to getting set up and making music.

The result?

More music and a happier Jay.

Awesome.

It reminded me of when I wanted to build a ‘Start the Day Right‘ habit of getting up at 06:30. This would give me the time to do my Qigong, read and nurture myself before getting started on all that ‘other’ stuff each day.

And I kept failing.

Why?

Because I’d lay in bed at 06:25 thinking: “Hmm, it’s dark, I can’t find my clothes, I don’t want to make noise finding my clothes and risk waking Clarabella… So sod it, I’ll get up later.”

It sounds silly doesn’t it?

But at 06:25 – all sleepy and cosy under the duvet – it makes perfect sense.

One evening I was taking my clothes off and I noticed I took them off in a specific order. And that’s when I had my Eureka! moment.

I laid my clothes out in reverse order.

So when I rolled out of bed in the morning, I could put my clothes on as I walked to the bathroom.

Bingo.

No more clothes barrier to getting out of bed.

(Here are 5 simple tips to help you rise with the larks – because how you start your day has a massive influence on how the rest of your day will turn out)

And now my ‘Start the Day Right’ habit is so firmly ingrained it’s borderline effortless.

But hang on a minute…

What about the other way?

What about bad habits?

Simple.

Just put extra barriers in the way.

Again, here’s an example of my own.

Evening has always been my downfall.

I can be so virtuous with my habits during the day I’d make a monk feel jealous.

But come 8pm…

Well, let’s just say over the years this was the trigger to engaging in habits that would undo all of my good work during the day.

Nuff said.

Recently it was chocolate.

I’d get to the end of the day and eat enough chocolate to put an elephant into a sugar shock.

So what’d I do?

I simply stopped going down ‘That’ isle in the supermarket every time I went to buy my fruit and veg. You know the isle I mean, the one with all the junk and snack foods.

And when it got to the end of the day I’d wander to the food cupboard and lo-and-behold…

…No junk.

It’s hard to eat what isn’t there.

(Discover 10 sensible ways to stack a healthy weight in your favour)

Now sure, I could go out and get some chocolate, but that means getting in the car (I hate driving), going into town (I hate town at night) and all in all it’s simply too much hassle to be bothered with.

So I’ll have a couple slices of toast.

Or some chopped veggies dipped in hummus.

Much better.

Summing Up

  1. Identify the habit you want to change
  2. If it’s a good habit you want to do more off, consider what the barriers are to you doing it and then look for ways to remove them.
  3. If it’s a bad habit you want to decrease, consider what barriers you can put in the way to make it harder to do.

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Bye for now

Marcus