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  • Sarah Lyall-Neal PsyD

This Post Could Be Habit Forming (Part 2)

Updated: Nov 11

Did you do your homework from Monday? It's okay if you didn't, we all have busy lives. Maybe today's post will give you the information you need to get motivated to develop at least one life changing healthy habit.



Today we are going to dig into another section of Clear's book and look at the four laws of behavior, which are:

  • How can I make it obvious?

  • How can I make it attractive?

  • How can I make it simple?

  • How can I make it satisfying?

Making it Obvious


For a new habit to make it off the ground, it has to be clearly identifiable. To keep with the example from Monday, you might say, I want to read the Bible more. This is great but a statement like this with little backing is not going to get you where you need to go. Let's try again utilizing the first law to make our goal obvious.


I want to read the Bible more so I’m going to go online and look for Bible reading plans that fit the amount of time I want to spend reading each day. I am then going to print the plan and put it in a place where I will see it everyday (fridge, desk, etc.). I will put my Bible close to my plan so I can readily get to it after checking the days reading.


Habit stacking is another way to make a new habit more obvious. I’ll use my own Bible reading as an example. I often read the Bible in my car after I eat lunch, before returning to work. The habit I already have is eating my lunch in the car (while its parked of course). I stacked Bible reading into that time because I usually have more time at lunch than I use for eating. It was an obvious time to get my reading in, plus it helps me to go into the second half of the day with a better mindset (win win).


Making it Attractive


We tend to work harder pushing toward goals that will ultimately get us approval from those around us. Think about it, for many of us, one of our first long-term goals is graduating high school. We work toward this achievement because it is accepted by most that we should meet this goal. When we do graduate high school, our parents, teachers, and members of the community come out to celebrate. This sets the stage for our pursuing other, larger, goals down the road.


Granted, no one is likely to throw you a party because you have started engaging in a new healthy habit (wouldn’t it be nice if they did?). What people will do is start to recognize and comment on the changes they see in you. To stay with our Bible reading goal for a moment. Bible reading should be attractive all on its own, but let’s face it sometimes we need an external nudge to keep us going. Acquiring the external nudge could be a simple as letting people at your church or trusted friends know that you have a Bible reading goal so they can cheer you along and be supportive.


Making it Simple


One of the biggest reasons healthy habits are not easy to develop are because they tend to be hard. Starting to exercise isn’t easy. You have to set aside time, get the proper equipment, and then deal with soreness afterward. Further, unfortunately when we exercise fat doesn’t just melt right off of us, which can lead to discouragement. Going back to the 1% change from Monday, we have to make a new habit super easy in the beginning, this gives the new habit the best chance of survival.


To stick with our Bible reading example for continuity. I had tried reading the Bible before and always struggled with the King James version (Old English isn’t my first language). Therefore, even when I did set up the environment to read, I was able to find excuses not to. I really started making headway when I started reading a modern English translation of the Bible. I could finally read at a faster clip and I could understand what I was reading without having to read it 10x. This one simple change is how I’m about to finish my first read through of the Bible.


Making it Satisfying


When you are thinking about starting a new habit, the outcome is naturally satisfying, unfortunately the outcome is also far away in most cases. Our brains don’t do well with delayed gratification, that’s why its important to build some instant gratification into the system. To keep with the Bible reading theme, for me, the in the moment relief I get from being in the word is worth it to me to keep going back. But I also like sharing items I have read with my husband, clients, and friends.


The Laws with a different example:


I like examples so I'm going to take this post a step further and apply the laws to a second example. Let's look at adopting healthy eating habits.


Making it Obvious: Clean out your kitchen and replace junky foods with healthier alternatives.


Making it Attractive: Look for some healthy recipes and share your recipe experiments on social media with friends and family. You’ll be inspired to cook and you could help others get healthier.


Making it Simple: Plan out your meals in advance so you don’t have to think about what you are going to eat in the moment.


Make it Satisfying: Try different healthy foods to keep things interesting.


I have barely grazed the surface of everything that Clear covers in Atomic Habits, he takes a much deeper dive into the science of habits and I recommend reading his book. That being said, I would read the book instead of listening to it, you really do need the images in the book.



*The above link is a commissioned link, if you choose to purchase a copy of this book, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.


For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. -Timothy 1:7





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