People often struggle to make change because they either try to force it without setting themselves up to succeed, or because they believe that they’re the sort of person who just can’t do the thing – whatever the thing is.
I am on a mission to show people that with a combination of self-compassion, self-awareness and strategic planning, willpower is almost irrelevant. You don’t have to “force” yourself to do a certain thing – whether that’s eating your vegetables or going to the gym or waking up early to meditate.
Whatever habit you’ve been meaning to do – or that you keep trying and can’t quite make it stick – there’s a better way.
I’ve actually created a free ebook covering a selection of behaviour change tools that you can download and start using today using this link.
These are just some of the tools I use with my clients to help them achieve results. And I’m going to share one of them with you today.
The science of habit building
When it comes to behaviour change, there’s a lot of really interesting reasons why some habits are easier to stick to than others.
You know, when we’re born we have 40% more brain neurons than the average adult.
Isn’t that mad?
How can babies have so many more neurons in their brains than adults, when adults are clearly more skilled and smart?
To understand how this could be – and also how this can help us build new habits – I want to talk about something called synaptic pruning.
So synapses are connections between the neurons in your brain.
The basic idea is that your brain prunes away connections between neurons that don’t get used, and builds up ones that do.
It’s a use it or lose it deal.
Our brains build the pathways between neurons that are most needed and ditch the stuff we don’t need.
So if you learn a second language as a kid, you’ll have more of these language neuron connections in your brain than someone who doesn’t have another language. The more you speak this language, the stronger the connections become.
Not only that, but the connections also become faster and more efficient everytime you practice.
This is how skill and expertise is developed. This is how practice works. This is the science of skill development.
Meanwhile, someone who never learnt that second language, their brain ditches the language connections to allocate energy elsewhere – maybe that person plays guitar instead and strengthened the musical neurons.
Newborns are basically a blank canvas with limitless possibilities. Practice makes progress and all that jazz
So how does this help build NEW habits?
This is the cool bit. Let’s talk about something called Habit Stacking.
Your brain builds a strong network of connections supporting your current behaviours. So many things have been made effortless and automatic. Your walk home, your morning coffee, your typing skills – how else do your fingers know where to go without looking? They just do.
Thousands of daily processes automated. Thousands of tiny decisions.
Habits. These are our habits.
And these are the perfect base for new habits.
You can use this connectedness of behaviour to your advantage.
Identity a current habit, and stack a new behaviour on top of it. THIS IS CALLED HABIT STACKING.
It’s a method of habit development that uses existing habits to form new ones and can be used to design obvious cues for virtually any habit.
The formula: After [existing habit], I will [new habit].
Here are a couple of examples:
- After I put the kettle on to my make morning coffee, I will take my supplements.
- After I brush my teeth, I will floss.
- After I finish training, I will drink my protein shake.
It’s a simple formula that works in all scenarios. And once you’ve cracked the basic formula, you can stack a series of tiny habits onto each other, taking advantage of a natural momentum. One behaviour leads to the next, which leads to the next.
You become the person who does the things they say they want to do.
This is one of the tools I teach my clients when it comes to building new habits.
I’m not the sort of coach that just hands out macro calculations and meal plans and sends people on their way.
I help them make changes from the ground up. We start from where you are, look at where you want to be, and work out all the things we need to do along the way to get you there.
If you want real coaching, you know where to find me.
If you’d like to download my free ebook on nutrition, training and behaviour change, find it here.
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