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Build Better Habits

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Prime Your Environment to Make Future Habits Easy

Should we work on 1 habit at a time or multiple? My answer is nearly always to focus on one habit. Not only is this simpler, but it also addresses an often-overlooked aspect of habit formation: when you’re building one habit, you’re often building multiple habits.

Take the habit of eating healthier. There are a variety of habits involved in this process. You have to build the habit of going to the grocery store and shopping for new items, the habit of meal planning and deciding what to eat each week, the habit of chopping and prepping food each night, the habit of cleaning up after the meal, and so on. Eating a healthy meal is the easiest part. It’s often the preparation that causes you to quit.

This is true for many habits – not just eating healthy. One way to increase the odds that your habits will be performed is to walk into an environment that is ready for the habit.

James Clear call’s this strategy “priming the environment.” That is, creating an environment that favors the habit that you’re trying to build.

Environment design, as we discussed previously, makes the cues of good habits more obvious. Reducing friction, as discussed previously, makes performing habits in the moment easier.

Priming the environment adds one more layer: it’s a way to make your future habits easier.

Here are some examples:

· Want to meditate more? Set up a comfortable, quiet place in your home where you practice meditation.

· Want to encourage your children to read more? Help them make a reading nook in their bedroom with some comfy pillows and plenty of age-appropriate reading material.

· Want to paint more? Set up your easel, paints, and brushes beforehand so you can walk in and get straight to work.

· Want to sleep better and develop a wind-down routine? Move your phone charger out of the bedroom and place a white noise machine, your favorite candle, and a couple of books on your nightstand.

Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make your future actions easy. Now your environment is ready for immediate use the next time around.

Whether we are approaching behavior change as an individual, a parent, a coach, or a leader, we should ask ourselves the same questions: “How can we design a world where it’s easy to do what’s right? How can we prime our environments, so our future habits are easier?”

Ideally, the actions that matter most should also be the actions that are easiest to do.

Summary


If you want to make a habit a big part of your life, you need to make the cue a big part of your environment. The less friction associated with a habit, the more likely it is to occur. Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. You want to make your good habits the path of least resistance.

One way to increase the odds that your habits will be performed is to walk into an environment that is ready for the habit. Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make your future actions easy.


Question


At this point, you have a two-minute habit, a clear plan for where and when to add that habit into your life, and a series of small environmental changes that make it easier to stick to your habit each day. Share an example of how you an prime your environment to make the habit you are working on easier.

Julie (as a member)
Julie (as a member)
Jul 18, 2023

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