This was an actual email sent to Deep Existence email subscribers on Sept. 3rd, 2013. It’s an example of what to expect from the newsletter as a Deep Existence subscriber. If you’re a current RSS subscriber, you can still sign up because the email content is unique from what you see on the blog.
“The focus should not be on talking. Talk is cheap. It must be on action.” – Howard Berman
Don’t you agree with Howard’s quote? Talk is cheap. We can plan and talk about how we’re going to change our lives, but that’s not what makes a difference.
Here’s my action challenge for you – if you are not pursuing one single habit right now, you’re missing a huge opportunity to grow, so pick one! Pursuing two or more habits is about as good as pursuing zero. My one habit right now is to exercise 4+ times a week and I’ve done it for 67 days. I won’t stop until I’m completely comfortable with it. I want this habit to last 70 years.
Now I want to share with you a few thoughts about habits.
Assuming A Behavior Is Habit Has Benefits
It has been beneficial for me to assume my exercise plan is habit, even though I’m not so sure it is habit. Based on my 67 day streak, some people would say it’s habit (but habits are not time-based, they depend on neural pathway development, which varies). This Sunday was a gym day for me, but I felt some internal resistance. It didn’t feel like habit, because the decision wasn’t easy.
The Benefit: I’ve noticed that when I consider my habit to be set, a new form of motivation helps me out – I don’t want to ruin the habit and investment of time. It’s not motivation in the traditional sense, which is getting yourself to the point of wanting to do something. It’s motivation via expectation. You do it because you expect it of yourself now.
If you’re struggling to gain traction on a difficult new habit, try this… Instead of thinking motivationally like, “yeah! I’m gonna go pump iron!”, simply place the expectation to do it, and don’t make it a decision at all. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that we have to motivate ourselves to do things. That’s really tough because motivation is fickle and limited! It’s better to decide to do things in advance and develop the right mindset to carry out that decision.
Don’t intend to do it, decide to do it.
Weak Habits Are Great
While I assume exercise is a habit for me, I’m also still focusing on it as my one habit, which implies that it isn’t fully formed yet. Essentially, this means it’s a weak habit. Weak habits sound lame, but they’re exciting! A weak habit is still a habit, and an excellent foundation to build upon, and going from zero to any strength of habit is by far the hardest part of the process.
What do you think about the role of motivation and expectations in habit development? When you expect to do something, is that a strong enough sign to consider it a habit? Or does it also need to carry very little resistance?
I tend to think of habits as low-resistance, automatic behaviors, but the early to middle phases of habit formation might involve the expectation to act with internal resistance. This makes the most sense to me, as the new neural pathway begins to overtake the old one as the brain’s preference. Unfortunately, there seems to be little research on the stages of habit formation, but I’ll look into this for my book.
Anyway, if you find yourself intimidated by the weight of all you want to accomplish in this very moment, I think you’d like this little 250 word article I wrote on the blog. It’s a good reminder that big things are just a number of smaller things. You may have read it already.
PS. I’m aiming to write more comprehensive posts, and I’m also working on the habits book, so my post frequency might decrease, but I’ll still include helpful thoughts like these in the newsletter.
Have you downloaded up your complimentary 40 pack of focus wallpapers from the Focus toolbox? There are currently five focus tools in the focus toolbox. I’ve updated it a few times since the beginning.
password: (subscribers only – sign up below)
If you’d like to get something like this each Tuesday – insightful, personal, and motivating – sign up below and be showered with bonuses. Or you can see the bonuses here.