Check out this article to know the 1st and 2nd laws of behavior change
3rd law of behavioral change: Make it easy
While making a behavior change for a new habit, we are often so caught up with planning that we never get around to performing the action. Planning becomes a form of procrastination. You just don’t want to merely plan things; you have to practice it to get results.
Habit formation is a process when behavior becomes progressively automated with repetitions. When you get to the automaticity point, your habit becomes easy. To get to the point of automaticity, where habit can be performed without thinking, you have to execute a habit many times.
How to make habits easy?
Energy is precious to humans, and our brain is wired to conserve it whenever possible. We humans use the law of least effort to choose an option requiring the least amount of energy.
The less energy you require to do an action, the more likely you will do it. The idea behind making it easy is not just to do easy things but to take one habit and make it as effortless as possible at the moment.
This will get you started, and you can reap the benefits in the future.
Reduce the friction by building the habit that is easy to fit and flow with our lifestyle.
- If you want to exercise more, select a gym on your way to work. This way, you can quickly stop at the gym after your work is done with no friction.
- Contradictorily, if you select a gym on the other side of town, you would not go because it increases friction and energy consumption.
Prime the Environment
Optimize your environment to make your habits more accessible. Further, construct an environment where performing the habit is as easy as possible. There are numerous ways to prime your environment to get the desired behavior.
- Want to get fit: cut fruits and vegetables in containers on your weekends.
- Wish to cook breakfast: lay out all the equipment needed at the night
- Want to read more: lay the book in easy reach near your sofa.
Increase the friction to get rid of bad habits and decrease the friction to inculcate good habits.
2 Minute rule
When you start a new habit, make it so easy that it takes less than 2 minutes to complete it. The idea is to start the habit with baby steps. Reading one book seems daunting, but reading one page seems easy. Inculcate a gateway habit that will naturally lead to a more productive path.
But what is the hype about reading one page or going to the gym for 10 minutes? The point is to show up. You should first establish a habit to master it. No one wants to read only 1 page or do 1 push-up.
It is a mental trick to get you started. As the ritual begins, it is easier to get into a state of focus. The theme behind this trick is to start a habit streak. You can never improve a habit that doesn’t exist, so start it even if it is small.
Technology is an incredible invention that has made once annoying and hard actions easy, painless, and straightforward. It has become the most reliable way to ensure the correct behavior.
Use technology and automation for actions that happen very infrequently because they are less likely to become habits. Monthly or yearly things such as rebalancing your investment portfolio, employee retirement reduction, automated prescription refill, etc., should be automated. This will help you free up the time and energy required for other habits.
Inversion of the 3rd law: Make it difficult
In respect to the inversion of the 3rd law of behavior change, you should make your bad habits difficult. You can do this by increasing friction between your bad habits. The greater the conflict, the less likely you will repeat a habit.
- If you want to stop mindless surfing on the internet, switch off your phone. If that doesn’t work out, put it in another room. You can even disassemble the parts of the mobile.
- If you want to check your phone, you will have to go to another room, assemble all parts and switch on the mobile. With the energy and time required for this action, you would think you are better off without it.
Use commitment device
A commitment device is a present action that will control your future. It helps you restrict your future choices to one that benefits you, binds you with good habits, and limits you from bad ones. It helps to take advantage of good intentions and resist temptations.
Examples to create a commitment device:
- Asking for a voluntary ban from the casino
- Leaving your wallet home so as not to be tempted by fast food
- Splitting the meal half for to go to cut calories
- Locking your phones in other rooms to enhance concentration on work.
4th law of behavior change: Make it satisfying
The 4th law of behavior change tells us to make the habit satisfying. Pleasure or satisfaction teaches our brain that a habit is worth remembering and repeating. Your brain simply understands 2 things:
- What is rewarded is repeated
- What is punished is avoided
How to make habits satisfying?
Use reinforcement and rewards
Humans desire an immediate-return climate, which means we want an instant reward for our actions. A prize given right now is worth more than any future assurance.
But our habits are a long-term process that gives results in the future. Good habit’s immediate outcome is unenjoyable, but the future endeavor is good. Contradictorily, bad habits feel good at first, but the final result is terrible.
- Exercising may feel unenjoyable right now, but in the future, it promises fitness.
- Smoking may feel good right now, but it can lead to lung diseases in the future.
Hence, it is essential to generate immediate pleasure from the actions or habits that align with your long-term goal. The reinforcements can be simple things you desire.
If you exercise every day, you can watch 1 episode of your favorite series on Netflix. But remember, the reward should align with your overall goal. If being fit is your aim, treating yourself with burgers will not be feasible.
Making progress is satisfying, and any visible measurement provides clear evidence of progress. A habit tracker is a straightforward way to track your habits. The easiest way is to get a calendar and cross the days when you perform a habit.
Remember to continue showing up and adding a streak to the habit. Ensure you don’t break the chain. And it will lead to unbelievable results.
You can also combine the habit stacking formula with the habit tracking formula.
- After I finish working out (current habit), I will record it in a journal (tracking the habit).
Never miss twice
Every habit streak ends at one point, and it is necessary to have a backup plan when your habits slide off the track.
No matter how consistent you are, life is bound to interrupt you. It can be sickness, family problems, or traveling. Whenever this happens, remember to never miss twice.
Get back to the habit as soon as possible. The first missout is not what ruins you; it is the spiral of repeated missouts that knock you off.
Don’t get into the all or nothing cycle which says if you can’t do something perfectly, then don’t do it at all.
Bad workouts often are the most essential for success. Showing up and doing only 10 push-ups is no big deal, but it shapes your identity as the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts.
The critical rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily.
Inversion of the law: Make it unsatisfying
The inversion of the 4th law of behavior change is about making the habit unsatisfying. Pain is an efficient teacher. You are less prone to repeat habits that are unsatisfying and painful. When the consequences are severe, we learn quickly.
- Additional fee for late bill payment compels the customer to make timely payment.
A habit contract is a contract that states your commitment to a particular habit and consequences if you don’t follow the habit. It can be in verbal or written form. It helps you feel accountable for your actions and habits.
Brain Harris, an entrepreneur, used the habit contract to follow his diet and fitness routine. He made a contract and wrote all that was to be done in his routine, like a low-carb diet, maintaining a workout program, etc.
Failure to adhere to the routine led to consequences like paying $200 to the trainer, paying $500 to his wife, dressing up each workday and Sunday, etc. This strategy worked, and Harris lost weight.
In the above example, Brain’s wife and trainer acted as accountability partners. People are sometimes reluctant to have a full-blown contract. At such times having an accountability partner can be beneficial.
An accountability partner can be your mother, family member, trainer, or friend. Knowing that someone is watching and keeping tabs on our habits can be a great motivator. You are also less likely to procrastinate because of immediate cost.
This cost can be in terms of money or trust. We don’t want others to think less of us or feel that we are lazy, and hence, it compels us to go with the habit.
Lastly, the secret to maximizing success with inculcating good habits is choosing the right one. Pick the right habit, and you will make the process efficient; choose the wrong one, and your life will become a struggle.
Using the 4 laws of behavior change, experience peak motivation by working hard on your habits. Everyone works when they are excited; success comes to those who work even when work is not exciting. Professionals always stick to their schedule, while amateurs let life get in the way.
Use the Goldilocks rule to achieve peak motivation. Human brains love challenges, but only if they are within the optimal zone of difficulty. Goldilocks principle says not too hard, not too easy, just right.
While making a habit, it is essential to keep it easy according to the 3rd law of behavior change. But once a habit is established, it is necessary to advance the habit in small ways to get the flow state.
If writing one page is your new habit, then go for 2 pages of writing once the habit is established. Similarly, if doing 10 push-ups has become your habit, then go for 10 squats along with 10 push-ups.