It’s January again – a time for optimism, fresh starts and new beginnings. You might even be taking it as an opportunity for change and growth.
It’s that time of the year when we promise to do better and be better. More exercise! No more smoking! Cut TV time in half! And you’re actually doing it! It’s easy really, until it’s not. The problem, of course, is that sticking to your resolutions is hard. Any real personal change is difficult. It doesn’t just take the want to change and commitment to the endeavor. The truth of it is that you’ll never make it on force of will alone. You’ll need to be systematically repetitive until it becomes part of who you are.
What you’re essentially doing in making a new year’s resolution is building a habit. More specifically, you try to curb or get rid of an ingrained bad pattern of behavior. In its place, you try to develop new ones to help you grow into who you want to be. You have to beat inertia, laziness, distractions, and autopilot. It’s haaaard.
Do yourself a favor and try a new tactic. Work outside in. Instead of just willing yourself to change, fix your environment to support you in the change you’re looking to make.
Shawn Achor, in his awesome book The Happiness Advantage recommends the 20 second rule.
To build a positive habit, reduce as much friction as you can between you and the behavior you want to build. Make it easy. Make it imperative. Anything you want to pickup that takes longer than 20 seconds to start will eventually wear on your will.
Want to learn to play the ukulele? Take it out if it’s bag, buy it a stand and put it right in front of your couch.
Want to exercise more? Prep your gym bag by the door in the evening, and sleep in your gym clothes. Make sure all you have to do left first thing in the morning is to slip your shoes and get out the door.
Want to read more? Charge your phone behind a bookshelf and pile your books on top of your tv’s remote control.
It works for anything you want to quit too.
Want to watch less tv? Take the batteries of your remote control out and put in in a drawer 20 seconds away.
Want to quit smoking? Put your cigarettes in a money box with a spin combination lock. It will be a bitch to carry it around and a bigger headache to open it.
Power of the environment
It speaks to the power of how much influence our environment and the spaces in things around us actually have. For the good or the bad, they force you into habits that define who you are.
Imagine how much you could achieve if you actually designed your surroundings to work for you. That’s what architecture is, really – making sure your home works for your particular needs. It’s not just about having a house that looks pretty. Rather it’s an investment in designing a space that influences you and your family to become better people.
Happy new year and welcome to the blog!