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5 Hacks for Effortless Habit Building in 2018

5 Hacks for Effortless Habit Building in 2018
From Nerd Fitness - January 17, 2018

At some point in the past few weeks (or five minutes ago after a google search), youve made a resolution to change your life:

Thats awesome, and Im very excited for you.

No, seriously! I want to see how this turns outI love a good redemption story.

Maybe you told some friends, or posted it on your blog, or shared your experience on Instagram, or started a club at work with coworkers about your goals.

Although Ive railed against Resolutions and big audacious declarations in the past, this year Im changing my tune.

If you set resolutions or goals this year, be it in January and youre in on new year new me, or you just had a big life event (birth of your first kid, scare at the doctor, etc.) and decided: This is the year I get in shape!Im here to help.

Everybody has goalsit gives us something to aim for.

They just need to be done right.

I want you looking back in 6 months and not recognizing the old you, instead of looking back and asking yourself what the hell happened? Why am I back where I started?

With over 40,000 students in our flagship online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy, 200+1-on-1 coaching clients, 1000 people in our monthly team adventure Rising Heroes, and 10 years with thousands of emails and success stories, we have a damn good track record at helping people build permanent habits.

This resource that dives deep into the key habit building techniques that will actually help you get in shape this year.

Why do we suck At Building Habits?

I know what Im supposed to do, I just cant get myself to do it !Welcome to the clubwe all know what we need to do, but we just cant get ourselves to make the important changes:

We know how to get in shape: move more and eat less!

We know how to exercise: get your heart rate up, do some push-ups, get stronger.

We know how to eat healthy: more vegetables and less sugar.

And yet, we cant get ourselves to stick with ANY of these things for longer than a few weeks.

Why?

Simple:Building new habits is tough, our lizard brains crave instant gratification, we dont fully understand how habits are built, life gets busy, and our default behavior is often as unhealthy as it is easy.

As a result we dont put the right systems in place in order to make changes stick.

We also rely wayyyyy too much on willpower and motivation.

We tend to bite off more than we can chew, go too fast too soon, and then get overwhelmed too quickly.

Does this sound familiar?

If youre somebody that eats a typically poor diet, never runs, and hasnt set foot in a gym since grade-school dodgeball with Mr. Wazowski, changing alllll of these at once is almost a surefire way to succeed at precisely NONE of them.

Were conditioned these days to expect and receive instant gratification.If we want food we can get it from a drive-through, stick a frozen meal in a microwave, or sit down at a restaurant thats open 24 hours. If we want a game we can download it to our computers/phones/PS4s within a matter of seconds. If we want to watch a tv show, its a few clicks away.

Hell, Netflix even starts the next episode for you without any action required!

We expect getting in shape to go the same way.

And this is why we suck at building healthy habits that stick.

We tell ourselves Hey, Ive been dedicated for a whole two weeks, why dont I look like Ryan Reynolds yet?, not remembering that it took us decades of unhealthy living to get where we are, which means its going to take more than a few weeks to reverse the trend.

And then we miss a workout because life was busy or our kid got sick. And we get disheartened that exercise or giving up candy is not nearly as fun as netflix and video games and peanut M&Ms.

This is where everybody gives up:

Its why we are doomed to stay overweight and suck at building habits. Its the videogame equivalent of attackingtoo many bad guys at once: game over.

Well cover the specific habits and resolutions you SHOULD be picking later in this article, but I have a big damn question to ask you first: But why though?

Be Honest about Your Big Why

Before we do ANYTHING with actually building habits, you needa damn good reason as to why you want to build them in the first place or the changes will never stick.

Without a good reason, youre dead in the water:

If youre here because you decided you should get in shape, youre going to fail the second life gets busy.

If you are dragging yourself to the gym because you think you should run on a treadmill five days a week even though you hate it, youre screwed!

As youre determining the habits or resolutions youre trying to set, make the habit part of a bigger cause thats worth the struggle.

Youre not just going to the gym, youre building a new body that youre not ashamed of so you can start dating again.

Youre not just learning to like vegetables, youre losing weight so you can fit into your dream wedding dress.

Youre not just dragging yourself out of bed early, youre getting up earlier so you can work on your side business before your kids get up so you can set money aside for their college education.

In our flagship online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy, we refer to this as your Big Why.Without it, youre just forcing yourself to do do things you dont like to dothatll never last.

Tie it to a greater cause and youre infinitely more likely to push through the muck and mire to get it done.

So dig 3 levels deep and ask why until you get to the root cause of WHY you want to build a new habit or change a bad one. Write it down. And hang it up somewhere you can see it every day.

Got your reason? Great. Now lets get into the science of habits.

Habit Building 101: the Three Parts

THERE ARE 3 PARTS TO A HABIT:

#1) Cue (what triggers the action): It can be a feeling: Im tired, Im hungry, Im bored, Im sad. Or it can be a time of day: its Monday at 9am, work is done, etc.

#2) Routine (the action itself):This can either be a negative action you want to cut back:I drink soda, I eat cake, I snack, I drink alcohol. I smoke cigarettes. I watch TV. or a positive one: I go the gym. I go for a run. I do push-ups. I read a book.

#3) Reward (the positive result because of the action):Im now awake. I am temporarily happy. my hands/mind are occupied. I can forget the bad day I had. I feel energized. I feel good about myself.

Depending on your outine/action above that habits can either be empowering and amazing, or part of a negative downward spiral. Your body isnt smart enough to KNOW what it needs to do: it just wants to fix the pain or chase the pleasure of the cue, and whichever way you choose to respond will become the habit when its done enough times.

Factor in genius marketing, behavioral psychology, bad genetics, and an environment set up for us to failand bad habits rule us.

Its why we crave certain foods, why we cant help but check our phone every time it vibrates, and why we cant keep ourselves from watching one more episode or grinding one more level in World of Warcraft.

As Charles Duhigg points out:

There is nothing programmed into our brains that makes us see a box of doughnuts and automatically want a sugary treat. But once our brain learns that a doughnut box contains yummy sugar and other carbohydrates, it will startanticipatingthe sugar high. Our brains will push us toward the box. Then, if we dont eat the doughnut, well feel disappointed.

We have trained your brain to take a cue (you see a doughnut), anticipate a reward (a sugar high), and make the behavior automatic (nom nom that donut). Compare that to a cue (you see your running shoes), anticipate a reward (a runners high), and make the behavior automatic (go for a run!)

The Dark Knight himself said it best: Its not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

Lets take a look at each part of the habit-building process and start to hack the sh** out of it!

Learn Your Cues: Recognize the triggers.

Whether you are trying to change an old habit, stop a bad habit, or begin a good habit, it starts with the first step in the process:

The Cue.

If you want to stop drinking soda, but feel like you need it every afternoon to get through work, your brain has been wired to think SODA after the cue:

When identifying bad habits to avoid, it starts by becoming aware of the cue that sets the habit in motion. Simply being aware of the cue is a great start to breaking the cycle:

So if you are looking to break a bad habit, it begins by identifying what the cues are that make you take the action that youre trying to stop.

At the same time, you can mentally train yourself, just like Pavlovs dog, to build a new habit by identifying the habit you want to build and the cue you want to use to proceed it:

So, whether youre breaking a bad habit or starting a new one, it begins by recognizing the cue that triggers the habit. Once you recognize or pick the cue, you can start working on fixing the routine (action).

Make the Routine Easier: Use Systems

Steve, I get it, but I still struggle with the building the routine partfor some reason I just cant bring myself to do it.

Yupwelcome to the toughest part of a habit:

The Routine (the action itself!).

This is where were going to start thinking and acting like nerds and scientists. Whether were trying to stop a negative routine (stop drinking soda) or start doing a healthy routine (start running), both need to be addressed with a different battle plan.

For starters, were going to stop relying on two things:

Make the Reward Momentum Building

Hacks for Effortless Habit building

Ready to Build a Habit? Great! Do Less.

Start today: Pick Your Habit and Go

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