Are Habits Like Unicorns?


When it comes to fitness, health, professional and personal success, it is so common for every guru out there (myself included) to discuss the importance of building good habits.

The key benefit of a habit is the automaticity of the new behavior that you are now doing every day, especially things you may find difficult to adopt. The magic is that these fairytale habits take ZERO effort to continue once you have them “locked in”.

On the one hand, you can make behaviors MORE automatic by doing them repeatedly for a long time, but they will never be 100% automatic and actually take zero effort.

This idea is perpetuated by the current social dysfunction of expecting to get something for nothing or more for less. (8 minute abs, etc). You don’t get something for nothing, and are owed absolutely nothing. You get what you deserve, and you deserve what you invest your time and energy into.

The key is not making a habit automatic, but rather to see the benefit, have a reward for it, and set the playing field to continue with your desired habits. This way you will not simply fall back on the zero-effort automaticity of a habit, but you will WANT to do it every damn day.

1) See the Benefit
This is by far the most critical component of the development of a new habit. If you see the value in doing something, you’ll do it. If you don’t, you won’t. This is why almost everyone showers daily and uses deodorant, because we see value in not being smelly to our peers. This is also why some people do not exercise or take care of their finances–because they do not see the benefit in doing so.

2) Have (and Experience) a Reward
This is quite similar to #1, but different in the sense that you should actively reward yourself for behaving the way you would like to–meaning give yourself a little gift for continuing your good habit or behavior. The habit should directly benefit you in some way. For example, doing a #5minuteflow in the morning should make your joints and body feel better, which is a direct reward of that behavior.

3) Stack the Deck
Setting the playing field in your favor for success is critical for developing any new habit. You can’t very well improve your habit of daily swimming without having EASY access to a pool. Think about the perfect, planets-aligning scenario for your daily behavior and try with all your might to create that. You’re not going to stick to your daily exercise habit if you go home after work and the gym is a 20 minute drive away–forget about it. Plan ahead and make it easy on yourself.

The fairytale of a zero effort habit needs to be put to rest. You will never glide through life in a series of automatic behaviors that turn you into a fitness/social/professional ninja. It takes consistent work. With fitness, it is especially important that you have a very compelling reason WHY you are doing something. Once you have a strong “why” and can easily see the benefit, set yourself up for success and reward your good behavior–it’s that simple.

DON’T get caught in a get rich/six-pack-abs quick scheme from some infomercial.
DON’T buy into the idea that once you do something for 67 days that it’s never going to take effort again.

DO find a way to enjoy the process in developing these new habits and consistently strive to simply be Better Every Day.

To putting in the work,
-Max


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