Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Creating Good Habits

Sometimes people have things that cause them to do the same thing over and over again.  Invisible scripts.  Inherent trait X.  Habits.   Whatever you want to call it, we all have them, both good or bad.  Sometimes our bad habits get in the way of being awesome, and you may stop and think "Ugh, I wish I didn't always do X."  Whether "X" is spending too much time reading celebrity gossip, or constantly checking your email instead of working, how do we break them?

First off, we have to understand why are habits so hard to break.  Habits are really neurological pathways that have been reinforced over years and years of doing them.  It's no wonder that they come so naturally to us.  They are literally wired inside our brains.  In fact, the lame part is that once we have a habit, the pathway in our brain never goes away.  So the downside is that if you have a habit of always criticizing your art as soon as you're done with it, no matter how much work you do to change that, it'll always be there, no matter what.

However, there is good news.  We can create new, positive habits that will reinforce what you want to do.  Besides, making things habitual is easier in the long run, than constantly fighting your current bad habits.

How to create positive habits?  It's about designing systems that allow you to create the habits you want through a reward system.  We need as much help as we can get when trying to replace old habits with new ones, so by creating an outside system that will encourage you to follow through.  

Want to wake up earlier?  Have an early-bird friend call you every morning to hold you accountable.  Give that friend $60 at the start of a month, and every time you don't answer your phone, they get to keep $2.  Buy your favorite breakfast food (whatever you want, whether that's Lucky Charms or creme brulee), but you only get to eat it if you wake up early.  Basically, the more reward/punishment systems you can set up to hold yourself accountable, the better. The good news is that rewarding good behaviors works faster than punishing not following through.  So make sure to get that extra box of pop tarts.

Additionally, when you do reward yourself, make sure that you enjoy the reward, guilt-free.  If you are rewarding yourself with time allotted for video games, then don't play the games and think about how you "should" be working.  Just play the games for that set amount of time and have fun.  Just like if you're rewarding yourself with cookies, don't mourn the amount of butter in the cookies, just enjoy the cookies!

To help out anyone wanting to change a habit, we'll even offer to help you out.  Email us (info [at] with your name, email, and habit that you want to create, and we'll email you once a day for a week to offer words of encouragement and check in with you.  You can do it!  Start building a good habit today!

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