How many times have we decided to incorporate a new habit into our lives or work, set up the environment to make it obvious and attractive, planned out rewards to give ourselves, gotten ourselves all pumped up about it… and then just not done the thing?
Let’s face it: we’ve pretty much all, at one time or another, tried to set ourselves up for success with a new habit, and then just not done it. Or we do it for a bit and then it falls off.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear says the four steps to forming a new habit are Cue (Make it Obvious), Craving (Make it Attractive), Response (Make it Easy), and Reward (Make it Satisfying). I’ve been talking this month about this four-step process so go back through the blog posts on my site or socials to read the other steps. Let’s talk about the RESPONSE. I mean, it really all hinges on that, doesn’t it?
The treadmill is right there in your room, in front of your face, right? Or the fruit bowl is on the counter. Or the sticky notes reminding you to do the thing are on your computer monitor or even the dashboard of your car. You’ve made it obvious. You may have even done some things to make it more attractive (I‘m looking at you, Peloton purchasers!) but still, that response thing – doing the thing – is just not happening. Why not?
Make it Easy
James Clear offers a helpful tip: use the two-minute rule. Anybody can do just about anything for two minutes (except maybe hold your breath under water). So, if you’re having trouble because doing the thing feels too daunting or time-consuming, just make an agreement with yourself to do it for two minutes. The chances are high that the two minutes will turn into ten, or twenty, or whatever you need it to be.
Clear the Stories
Getting to that “Response” part of the habit is really about taking action and moving yourself in the direction you want to go. One of the biggest things you can do to create a smooth path to responding to the cue and getting yourself to act is to clear the stories that are serving as obstacles.
“It’s too hard.”
“It takes too much time.”
“I’m too tired.”
“I’m too busy.”
If you’ll recognize that those are just stories you’re telling yourself and that those stories are standing in the way of you getting what you want, you can just choose a new story.
“I have the time I need to do this.”
“I want to create this habit, so I am willing to invest the time and energy.”
And, of course, “I can/will do this for two minutes.”
Set an Intention
One of the most powerful tools I know of to put oneself in a position of strength and motivation to taking action is to set an intention. And write it down! Written goals are eight times more likely to be fulfilled. An intention might technically be a goal, but do you feel the difference it has to state it as an intention instead of a goal? Feels more like a commitment, right? Try it on for size and let me know how it goes.
What intention can you set for yourself that will help you cement in the habits you want in your life and work? I want to hear about it! Share your thoughts with me.
And, as always, stay on point!