Your habits dictate your life. 90% of any given day is dictated by your habits, even though you may feel like you’re consciously in control.
This isn’t a bad thing or a good thing- it depends on the quality of your habits.
Fill your routine with healthy habits and you’ll be on the fast-lane to success on autopilot!
On the flip side, you can find yourself in some nasty downward spirals with the wrong habits.
This post is my experience in habit-hacking or building habits as fast as possible.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional habit-building, but I prefer to solidify healthy automated neural connections as soon as possible.
Traditional habit-building would be completing a 30 day challenge and only focusing on one habit at a time. With habit-hacking you can multiply habits faster, but I still recommend on any given week you only focus on one habit.
It takes roughly 30 days to form a new habit, so the theory is that by doing something for 30 days in a row it’ll stick. In many cases this is a true, but in other cases it can take longer.
I noticed in myself that certain habits & routines stuck extremely fast, so I naturally became curious as to why that was so. Here’s why I think so:
Rewards, Pleasure, Mmmm
The whole point of everything in life is to increase pleasure and reduce pain. For example you don’t quit sugar to suffer the lack of dopamine-producing foods; instead you quit sugar because you know you’ll feel healthier, more alert, and maintain a healthier weight.
Knowing this it’s important to observe the pleasure of your new habits as soon as possible.
Running & arms workouts always produces a “workout high” that makes me feel epic for the rest of the day after, so when I’m not “feeling it” later, I just remind myself how amazing I’ll feel after working out.
The same could be said for a meditation session or a sleep routine. If you are struggling with doing it, focus on the end result.
I think habit-builders get too obsessed with the habit but not the end result they want to produce.
You are effectively an evolved ape that wants more pleasing feelings, that’s the only reason why you’re developing any habit. Focus on the end result that is pleasing as a result of your habit.
Having a deep enough why will help you when you crave the short-term reward.
Another example would be that if you’re trying to quit porn in favor of pursuing real girls. You do this not to torture yourself by avoiding the pleasure of porn; you do it for the long-term gain from having real-life sex.
When you feel cravings for those wild internet sites, you must remind yourself the benefits of this new habit.
Don’t avoid the negative feelings or cravings- quite the contrary, feel them completely. Just remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
When you start noticing positive benefits, write them down as soon as possible.
Again I preach to you: focus on the rewards! When you know what you’re aiming for the short-term feelings of not wanting to do something or craving something bad will not seem so powerful.
Even More Rewards…
I created a new routine in which I’d wake up at the same time each day, meditate for 10 minutes, workout, then eat and get to work. I’d also go to sleep at the same time each night, and one hour before turn off all electronics and just chill in the apartment.
This is easily 4 or 5 new habits- but they all stuck very fast with minimal effort for some reason.
Why was this? I don’t think the key is in what I was doing- I think the key is in what I did after I completed the circuit.
After I worked out I would eat. This is a natural reward and my unconscious brain must’ve associated the morning routine with making my way towards food!
The caveman brain was designed to suffer before eating food. You would have to hunt, search, or deal with plants or people in order to get food. Today it is widely available.
By eating after every single workout, I trained my brain to unconsciously realize, “if I workout, then I eat.”
Working out became very easy. I also noticed that near the end of my workout I would get especially hungry, but not in a way that was hindering or exhausting.
It felt like a more primal hunger. My unconscious, reptilian brain knew that food was coming through the intense workout, so I worked out even more intensely to justify the reward!
As mentioned in the previous section, I also quickly noticed the positive benefits of this new routine so it was easier to stick to it.
When I would turn electronics off one hour before bed and get up earlier, I would feel so much more energized. When this energy got channeled into meditation, I felt much more peaceful and in my body. This helped me workout harder which gave me a harder workout high, and then I celebrated the entire routine by eating.
It started with eating after working out, but eventually turned into a night routine, morning routine, meditation, workout, then eating.
I realized it’s a lot easier to trigger habits by “habit-chaining” than it is to do a habit independently.
If I try to workout at random times in the day, it’s significantly harder to workout. Instead if I workout at about the same time every morning, it’s extremely easy.
You may have heard of “Pavlov’s Dogs” experimiments, in which a dog could be conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell. This guy essentially trained dogs to associate a bell with food, so they’d get excited for food at the sound of a bell even if no food was there.
You can do the same with habit-chaining. Once I had the workout then eat routine down, I meditated before working out.
Very quickly finishing meditation became the “trigger” which began the workout. Working out was also natural and already a routine so it was even easier to fit in meditation to the schedule.
The primitive brain within began to associate meditation with the trigger that made me work out, and working out the trigger which initiated food.
Rather than working out & meditating at random times in the day, I “chained” the habits side by side.
This appears to be a highly effective method for successful top-performers in the world. Don’t try to complete each habit individually- chain them to each other and each added habit will become easier!
Meta-habits are habits that help all other habits. For example working out increases feel-good chemicals in the brain and makes you smarter. With this increase in positive energy you can more easily develop other habits and complete things in life.
Positive meta-habits such as good sleep, good nutrition, exercise, and meditation all help you in all areas of your life- especially when these habits are chained together.
All habits previously described are meta-habits. By getting any one of those down, you’ll find it easy to add another chain habit into the mix and get that positive lifestyle going.
Just be warned not to do too much at once. If you’re new to creating habits, I recommend you start with one habit for 30 days followed by an instant reward such as healthy food.
Make It Easy
One thing which really helped me with this routine was the night routine. By turning off electronics 1 hour before bed and chilling in the dark, I find myself naturally journaling, meditating more, and reflecting on the day.
This improved my sleep quality which helped me get up early when I wanted to, which helped trigger all of the subsequent habits which led to food. I felt energized and excited in the morning instead of groggy, so everything else got easier.
Instead of trying to suffer your way into creating a habit, ask yourself how it can be easy to create the habit. Do you want to get up early? Don’t turn your alarm at 0530 and demand you suffer, why not turn your electronics off 1 hour before bed and create a relaxation schedule?
Upward Spirals- One at a Time
Again you should focus on one thing at a time. I started with exercise then food. I then added on meditation. Finally I fixed my sleep routine.
Just start with one though. Wait until it feels like the habit is solidified before you try to exert willpower on another habit. A man who chases 2 rabbits catches neither- this is old wisdom you should remember. One. At. A. Time. I’m writing that advice for me a couple years ago.
When you get one down, especially a “meta habit,” you create an upward spiral where the next habit if chained properly will become easier to form.
Focus on the medium-term game here. What could your life look like in 3-6 months if you added 4 meta-habits such as healthy diet, sleep routine, working out, and meditation?
Month one start with one habit, and wait until it’s solidified before attackin the next habit, and make sure you chain it. I personally love to eat after a workout as it feels most natural to the caveman brain inside of me.
Start With a Meta
The last piece of advice I’ll give is to start with a meta-habit. My first ever 30 day challenge was for approaching pretty girls at the mall. It helped me but not near as much as a meta-habit.
The 30 day approach challenge was great and I intend to do it again, but seriously focus on the Metas first. Once you have a couple Metas down, forming other habits becomes much easier because you have trained yourself to do it.
Meta habits typically provide the most instanteous rewards, so it’s easier to stick to it.
What Will Please You?
Start with the meta-habit that you think would help you the most in the shortest term possible.
Habit-building is easy when you feel good! If you need to fix your sleep, start that before trying to work out while groggy as hell.
Whichever meta-habit (or habit in general) would be healthy for you short-term & long-term, start with that. Long-term habits are great but can be more difficult to the new habit-builder because the rewards can’t be instantly seen.
I hope you found value from this post. Habit-building can be difficult and hopefully this made it a bit easier. Enjoy!