Happy New Year 2020!
I remember years ago, working at schools, we had 2020 plans. And it seemed so far away. Now, here we are at the start of a new decade.
You don’t need to wait for the start of a new year or a new week or even a new day to take a step towards change. If there’s something that’s been on your mind, your probably don’t even need to do more research. It’s easy to get caught up in the research stage, and get completely overwhelmed by all the information out there.
A change starts with one small step, one moment, which provides something to build on. Joe Dispenza says:
The moment you decide to do something differently, get ready, cause it’s gonna feel uncomfortable. It’s gonna feel unfamiliar. There’s gonna be some uncertainty. You’re not gonna be able to predict the next moment. That means you’ve left your known biology and you’re stepping into the unknown.Joe Dispenza, How to Transform your thought, The Model Health Show
The Secret to Successfully Making Changes in Your Life
So what is the secret? How do we make change more graceful? Well, we have some advice from Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist who won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. talks about changing being difficult, and then goes on to provide some guidelines for being able to make changes in his chat with Shane Parrish during episode 68 of the Knowledge Project. He discusses how we try to make change based on motivation alone, when we can have better success by removing the restraining forces. He cites the work of Kurt Lewin, a renowned Jewish-German psychologist who spoke of behavior as an equilibrium. Kahneman goes on to explain:
There are forces that are pushing you one way, forces that are pushing you the other way, so how loud you speak, how fast you drive; it’s easy to think of it as an equilibrium. And what we tend to do when we want to move people from A to B is we push them. We add to the driving forces and Kurt Lewin’s insight was this is not what you should do. You should actually work on the restraining forces and try to make them weaker ….Daniel Kahneman, The Knowledge Project episode 68
Although he is specifically discussing how to change your partner’s behavior, we can apply this idea to ourselves as well.
To find out the restraining forces, ask why are you not yet doing the behavior you’d like to make a new habit?
This is consistent with the work of James Clear as well, in his book Atomic Habits. He talks about how he built the habit of consistently flossing twice a day by changing his flossing tools and putting them in a place where he sees them every time he brushes his teeth. He also suggests that you could move your couch so that you’re not facing the tv, or remove the batteries from the remote control if you’d like to watch less tv. From these examples, restraining forces can be anything that’s making it really easy to continue do the behavior you’d like to replace or that stops to developing the new habit.
The Habit Loop by James Clear
James Clear talks about the habit loop. The four steps are:
- cue (what will cause you do do the behavior)
- craving (what’s the motivation)
- response (thought or action that you will repeat over time to build a new habit)
- reward (what is the result of this new habit)
If you’re struggling for how to create a new habit, give the loop a try. You can get started by learning more about the approach on his website and by watching this video:
I’d love to hear from you. Did anything resonate with you from anything I’ve shared today?
That’s it for today, the last of our special series. I’ll be back next week with an interview. To finish up, I leave you with this question: What can you change about your environment to make it easier to interrupt an old habit and start a new action today?
Happy 2020! Good luck with all your actions. Remember, change can start with with one small step.