Have you ever said “New Year, New Me!”? Or “On Monday, I will start to follow my diet”? We think we need external elements to motivate us to change. The truth is we can create the change ourselves without having to wait for Monday or a precise date. We can do it now and we can be our own saviors! Here are some lessons I learned from the bestselling Atomic Habits by John Clear.
Best tips on motivation—inspired by Atomic Habits
You can’t change the unknown so let’s be familiar with your habits.
To change something, you have to know it. Indeed, to change your habits, it is the same thing: you have to know them. The Habit Scorecard can help you go through this discovery process. This tracking tool can take the form of a list on a piece of paper on which you will write all the habits you have during the day. At the end of the day, just observe and get to know you better. Once you do that, you can see your life differently. Maybe because you didn’t realize that you have so many habits. Also, maybe you didn’t even know that you were doing certain things. If you feel surprised, it is okay, don’t blame yourself. You already took the first step to change only by creating your Habits Scorecard so you are on the right way.
The next step is to categorize each one of your habits as positive, negative or, neutral. Indeed, this will allow you to determine which habits you want to modify or quit doing.
“Motivation is highly overrated.” —James Clear
Having clear goals is much more powerful than focusing only on your motivation. But, what is a clear goal? To determine what exactly is your clear destination, you must ask yourself some precise questions: Why? Where? When? How? Naturally, some of these questions will find an easy answer. On the contrary, some others don’t even have the beginning of an answer. Here you start to understand why you seem stuck: you focused on your goal but you didn’t even think how to make it happen.
Another element that can be more powerful than motivation, it is the creation of a chain of habits. Let’s pair the new habits you want to create with good or neutral habits you already have. For example, every night, you will turn your mobile into plane mode right after you brushed your teeth not to be disturbed by the notifications. The new habit to turn off the notifications on your mobile will be paired with the neutral habit you already have to brush your teeth. The link we create between these habits is a strong bridge because its pillar is a deep-rooted habit.
What if your environment could help you?
Something that can also influence you more than your motivation is your environment. Indeed, the brain will be more attracted to do something if there is an element that helps him to do so. Here, it is about making the bad habits invisible and making the good habits evident to see. Context is the cue so for example, if you want to read more, keep your book where you can see it. If you want to exercise more, let’s take your gym clothes off your closet, prepare your bag and put it in front of the door.
To keep going with the good habits you want to develop, you first need to learn how to be patient. As John Heywood said: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It means that you can change all your habits in only one week. What really matters are the little daily decisions we take. “Just as atoms are the building blocks of molecules, atomic habits are the building blocks of remarkable results” said James Clear. So, first of all, you will have to be grateful for the baby steps.
For example, if you want to create the habit of reading every day, you can begin with one or two pages a day. Seems ridiculous? Well, if you begin to be grateful every day when you read your one or two pages, you will read a little bit more every week without even noticing it. On the contrary, if you start reading twenty pages and if you don’t accept to read less, you have more chances to fail in the creation of your new habit.
The explanation is easy: if you accept to take the time to evolve, you won’t feel overwhelmed. Therefore, you will be more inclined to continue your efforts. On the contrary, if you want to read an entire book in one day, you will unconsciously put pressure on yourself. Also, you won’t enjoy your reading because you will see it as an obligation.
Fall in love with the process.
You need to fall in love with the journey, the process, not with the goal. Otherwise, you take the risk that after completing your goal, your motivation will quickly fade and you will go back to the bad habits you wanted to avoid. But how can you fall in love with the process? And, what is the process?
Metaphorically, your goal is at the end of the road so it is this road you have to fall in love with. The road is the process, the way to your goal. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, you will have to become a runner to achieve it. As a consequence, you will have to fall in love with the process of becoming a runner. Otherwise once the marathon is over, you will go back to your old routines. The way you see this life project will then change. Indeed, the goal won’t be to run a marathon anymore but to become a runner. We want our behavior to naturally change so our actions will naturally be the ones of the person we want to become.
Get more like this—Sign up for our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Drew Beamer and Lala Azizli via Unsplash