The Positive Habit Formula
When it comes to implementing new habits to change and improve your quality of life, there are only 3 ways it can be done that will ensure success:
1. Have an epiphany
2. Change your environment
3. Change your habits (first in tiny ways)
In this article, I’ll be sharing a formula you can use to implement positive habits that can help you transform any area of your life(from losing weight to improving personal productivity and much more) – even if you think there’s not enough time.
Knowledge Isn’t Enough
Having an epiphany is hard and likely impossible, but changing your environment and changing your habits can create lasting change, IF you design them right.
And gathering more information in facts and logic won’t do it.
If information or facts changed behaviors, then no one would smoke, drink or eat fast food.
We are inundated with information and facts about those poor habits and yet the world still over indulges in all three.
Take time as an example.
There’s never enough of it, and we always want more of it.
We eat drippy hamburgers in our cars and take conference calls while we’re at the beach with our kids because we feel so pressed for time.
This pressure leads to a scarcity mindset. Be honest with yourself – do you feel or believe there is just not enough time?
We believe that there will never be enough time, so we say no to changes because we feel like we don’t have the hours to cultivate new positive habits.
Thirty minutes of exercise a day? Cooking a healthy dinner every night? Writing daily in a journal?
Starting Off Small
Who has the time to create better habits?
Well – everyone.
Everyone has the same 24 hours – Bill Gate, Elon Musk, Me and You all have the same 24 hours.
You could scold yourself down the path of change. Or you could make your life a lot easier:
You could start tiny.
Want to create a new habit? Like exercising more or improving eating habits?
Start small, rather than starting huge and with brute force.
Don’t sign up for the best new workout program. Don’t eliminate the way you eat now and think that a drastic change will last.
Start with doing 10 pushups a day, or even 5 minutes of cardio. Or less. Start with adding some veggies to what you already eat. Maybe take one less sugar in your coffee.
Tiny is helpful because it overcomes the first hurdle of change – fear, the negative motivation. If you make it small, then fear is also small.
Starting tiny has the added benefit that by starting small, you learn and adjust your approach and your build confidence faster.
The habit design formula looks like this:
B (the behavior or habit) = M x A x P
To create any habit you need M, A, and P
M is the Motivation (that could be internal drivers or external) the motivation to grow, to meet a commitment you made, to accomplish a goal or even to not let others down. There are dozens of ways to find motivation. And removing fear of getting started is also a key.
A is Ability (the tools, resources, training to do the new habit).
With Ability, a key is to make it easy. So instead of 50 push ups or a 5k run daily – make it easy – start with just 10 pushups or a few minutes on a run. In this way, excuses disappear.
P is a Prompt (the trigger to tell you do start the behavior BEFORE it’s habit).
In eating, it could be a sticky note 📝 that says eat 3 egg whites. With exercise, it could be placing a dumbbell by your work desk, and lifting 5 or 10 reps here and there. Easy.
When you combine MAP with intention, crazy things happen.
There’s another fun element of prompts that I love – it’s called an “anchor prompt”.
An anchor prompt is an existing habit that you use as a trigger or prompt for the new habit.
I have a dog named Dufus. Well, he is getting older and in recent years has had a lot of costly dental issues (bad teeth). I’ve had to spend a lot to fix the issue but we need to switch to preventing.
We had to brush his teeth. Seems nuts to a guy who always had “out door dogs” his whole childhood but his health and my wallet needed a change.
We bought all the stuff but I wasn’t doing it. I had the motivation (his health and my money). I had the ability (both the know how and the materials) but I lacked the prompt.
So, I used another anchor habit as the prompt.
I always help my daughter comb her hair and brush her teeth every morning. So my prompt was to use the existing prompt of brushing her teeth to trigger to do it with the dog as well.
I made it easy – I placed a separate cup with the dogs tooth brush and tooth paste in my daughter’s bathroom and like a miracle, a new habit was formed almost over night. Not 7 days and not 21 times (those are fake habit tips), it was over night.
I followed the same anchor approach to ensure I made healthy fiber protein smoothies every morning for my wife and I. I used a different prompt.
This method is scientific, its proven in years of laboratory research by Dr. BJ Fogg. of the Stanford University Behavior Design Lab.
Do you like Instagram? Do you love it? Do you know why? The founders of Instagram are BJ’s students. They designed the app around creating habits, in you.
If you want to create new positive habits in your life, follow the MAP method to easily get real results.