“The cause of your habits is actually the prediction that precedes them.” — James Clear, Atomic Habits
When you take a step back and look at the process leading up to acting on an impulse, you realize that the satisfaction lies in the moments just before you actually get what you’re thinking about; not right when you get it.
In other words, we get more satisfaction out of wanting something than we do when getting something. The way the mind works is as follows: something triggers a craving (The first law of behaviour change), you let said craving sit for a while and build up (The second law), you respond to that craving (The third law), and then you get a reward (The fourth law). Since we understand that satisfaction lies in the craving and not the reward, we can begin to manipulate that desire to our own advantage and in turn change the reward to something more positive. But why does this matter when changing our habits?
The question above can be answered with another question: why would we have habits if they didn’t reward us in some way? People generally avoid doing certain things because they don’t see any immediate reward. Take exercise for example. It’s no lie that working out sucks. Nobody actually enjoys the act of working out unless they’ve already been doing it for a long time and have made it a part of their identity. The reason for this is that results aren’t immediately apparent in most cases. Sure, you could work out every day for a year and you would see plenty of results, but as stated before, results won’t be visible overnight. Your mind craves a reward, and will stop at nothing to get some form of one. So how can we make this work to our advantage?
Well, let’s think about the things you enjoy doing. That list probably involves surfing through YouTube or scrolling through social media, eating sweet foods, sleeping, and other things like that. In order to convince your primal mind that a habit is good even when results aren’t immediately visible, try rewarding yourself with a small bit of something you enjoy. Maybe you tell yourself that you can’t go on YouTube until after you’ve worked out for the day. Maybe you don’t let yourself eat any candy until you start working on the project you need to get done for school. I couldn’t tell you every instance that this would work, but I encourage you to think of different ways to use this method in order to successfully maintain positive habits.
At the end of the day, everybody wants to be fed, well rested, sheltered, and quenched of thirst. If you can find ways to reward your body with things that help you to fulfill those tasks, then reaching your daily goals is really just one step beyond that. No matter what you want to achieve, the first step is understanding how to train for success. Look at sports teams; they all have the same goal, but only some win because only some of them form good, strong habits. Although you might not be on a sports team, the main idea still applies: acting on your ambitions does more than hoping they’ll show up overnight. Will you be one of the many people who lay in bed all day and think about success or their ambitions? Or will you be one of the few that acts on their ambitions and acts towards success? Now that you know where to start, you know how to decide. I wish you the best of luck.
What do you think about reaching goals? What helps you get things done throughout the day? I’d love to read through your ideas in the comments. Contribute to your community by sharing this article with your friends and family! Maybe these articles are full of information you already know, but it never hurts to offer ideas to your peers. It also never hurts to leave a like. Stay tuned for future blog posts, and try to be the reason someone smiles today