The Best Coaching Strategy is Habit based.
More than 40% of the actions people perform each day aren’t actual decisions, but “HABITS”
– A Duke University Research 2006
Do you recall the experience, where you remember leaving home and reaching work, but not being able to remember the many turns and traffic lights in between?
Psychologists refer to this behaviour as automatic; a behaviour that is a result of overlearning, in other words doing something over and over again consciously so that, it eventually becomes an automatic behaviour i.e. a habit.
“Habits are simply reliable solutions to recurring problems in our environment”
– Jason Hreha
The Habit Loop
The brain is always looking to find the easiest and the most effective action to find solutions to problems, and the moment it stumbles on a reward for one of its conscious actions, it learns to hold on to it and will always keep going back to regenerate the easiest process of finding that reward. The more this action is repeated, the stronger the habit becomes.
Lucky for us the process of habit formation isn’t an easy one. It apparently takes 66 days to form a habit (yeah, yeah, go on! I’ll give you a moment to eye roll). Can you imagine the number of unsuitable/ bad habits we could have picked up if it were easy?
Easy or not, we have become a generation, efficient at making choices that give us instant pleasure and, in that process, we end up choosing habits that we aren’t ready for or that might not suit us.
While habit formation is the path to making long-lasting behavioural changes, it is extremely crucial to choose the right habit as well and the key phrase here would be “1 right micro habit at a time”.
Let’s imagine a situation where I am a working parent of 2 toddlers looking to lose weight and I find a website where there are lots of amazing before/after transformation pictures of people, I read through their diet & exercise plan, I realise that it would mean that I have to make a lot of changes in my routine, but my motivation is so high after reading those testimonials, that I decide to do it.
After a week or two into the program, I notice that:
- I am constantly testing my will power to stay away from the foods that I like
- Foods have suddenly become good or bad
- I have to be constantly motivated
- Need to always be extremely organized to follow multiple things on the new protocol
- I am always stressed about things in my environment and my social circle coming in the way of my program
- Each time I slightly deviate, I feel like a failure for struggling so much to stay on track.
A month into this, I have no motivation to continue and my older and stronger habits are slowly taking over.
Let me explain this via Fogg’s behaviour model –
Our preexisting habits are so strong that it’s impossible to overhaul them. We can only over-ride one habit at a time by practising the new action over and over again in place of an old one.
Picking a new habit has to be extremely personalised, it cannot be the same for everyone, for the simple reason that each of our life situations, our goals or reasons for wanting it are all very different.
So, when you do pick a new action/habit, make it so easy and simple that even when your motivation is low, you should still be able to do it.
When we try to make multiple habit changes at once, the difficulty factor of it becomes so high that it relies on your motivation and your will power and makes it extremely difficult to succeed.
I will write more on each of the aspects of this model. But for now, the points I would like to stress in this article are –
- Habit based method is the best that is there to create long-lasting behavioural changes. Hacks & tricks don’t work, don’t fall for them.
- Old habits cannot be erased.
- When you choose a strategy that asks you to make multiple habit changes all at once, you are setting yourself up for failure.
- So, here’s a saner process:
- Pick a goal that will be your constant source for motivation
- List out all the course of actions you need to do get there
- Pick the one that attracts you the most, and now make it simpler and easier for you to be able to execute it no matter what- practice this micro-habit for at least 2 weeks and track for consistency.
- Success is a result of many tiny wins! So, go get those micro-habits conquered, one at a time!!
Next : Motivation Deconstructed