How To Change Any Habit (in 30 minutes) | Chris Greene | Skillshare

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How To Change Any Habit (in 30 minutes)

teacher avatar Chris Greene, The Habit Guy

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What Are Habits? (and why they're important)

    • 3. Financial Analogy

    • 4. How Habits Work

    • 5. Your Habit Plan (Action Exercise)

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About This Class

In 33 minutes you are going to have a new understanding of habits (and why they're so important).

You'll also have an effective plan for gaining that habit you really want to (but may have struggled with in the past).

Meet Your Teacher

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Chris Greene

The Habit Guy


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1. Introduction: What's up, everyone and welcome to have it hackers, 1, 0, 1, where we're going to walk you through how to gain that specific habit that you've been trying to for the past couple of years, but had been having a little bit of trouble with we're going to teach you exactly how to make that habit stick. Now before we get into it, I want to introduce myself. My name is Chris. I'm the CEO and founder of habitat habit. We are absolutely obsessed with helping you create the habits and life you want. So I'm super excited to be with you today because habits are my favorite thing to talk about. Now I want to frontload at some value for you because I know we're all short on time and attention these days. So here's the soundbite, the key takeaway that really changed the game for me, habits are the investments of personal development. Nolan, repeat that. Habits are the investments of personal development. And before you psych yourself out, you don't need to know anything about habits, okay? Everything you need to know is covered in this short course. So we've got you covered. Let's go over the structure of this mini-course. It's going to follow a simple progression of knowledge. So we're going to start at the base with the what, as in what our habits. And then we're going to move to the y as in wire habits important and actually worth focusing on. Then we're going to move to the how, as in how do habits actually work? And the whole point of understanding this is so that we can actually take advantage of them. Which leads us to our final point. Who Who do you want to become? This is the goal to identify who you want to be and then take deliberate action, trying to create that identity by making the improvements that you see in your future self. And that's what we've got our action item at the end. And I hope you're as excited about this as I am because we've made it so that it mimics direct one-on-one coaching sessions where we walk you through step-by-step, how to create your habit plan. And we have an example of our own the entire time. Show it should be really easy for you. When you're done with this, you're going to feel more capable in your ability to change who you are and become that better version of yourself than you ever had before. And again, it's only going to take about half an hour, so let's get right into it. I'll see you in the next video. 2. What Are Habits? (and why they're important): Alright, let's create the foundation of what habits are. Let's start with some definitions. Habits are behaviors that are repeated in stable contexts. And civil contexts here just means a situation that's similar enough to another so that our unconscious can make that association. Habits are automatic. Reactions to specific situations, unthinking routines, choices we make at some point, and then stop thinking about, but continue doing. Habits are unconscious behaviors that we exhibit when we're on auto pilot. So their behaviors we've done so much in the past, they become hardwired into our neural circuitry, which is what makes them the path of least resistance and why they become our default behaviors because of the easiest and least effortful to actually do. Now these are all good and correct definitions. But for our purposes, the most useful definition comes from the authors of the book willpower. They say habit is a lasting technique for conserving willpower. Now on repeat this one more time. Habits or a lasting technique for conserving willpower. We should be good news to everyone because we all want more willpower. Okay, Now let's move on to some characteristics of habits to get an even better understanding of what they are. To start, habits can become remarkably fixed. You can think of them almost like programs where it's a simple If this, then that type of structure that runs from start to finish and allows them to be cognitively easy. Which leads to our next one. Habits required no or very little mental effort to be performed and maintained. Now this idea is fundamental to the value of habits, and it's been tested time and time again in the scientific community. So habits, for the most part, are mentally effortless. Now of course, this is going to vary from behavior 2, behavior person to person. But the main takeaway is that conscious thought and behavior cost, mental effort, habits don't. Okay? Next, what habits can be replaced? Now I know this seems obvious, but if we couldn't actually change our habits, we'd be stuck in a loop doing the same things over and over and over. But we're not. Now, let's follow that up with another seemingly obvious one. Habits are a part of our lives, whether or not we consciously create them. Now, I'm under the impression that the more habits we consciously create, the better off we're going to be. Which of course is why I've made this course. Alright, next, habits make up a substantial portion of our day. According to a diary study, it's about 40 percent of our daily behaviors. Now, other estimates go even upward to the high 90s because they look at the total energy in information processed, the unconscious system as opposed to the conscious system. But to me, the actual number doesn't matter. All that really matters to us is that some of our behavior is habitual and that we can change it, which we just learned. Okay, finishing off or characteristics, habits provide the highest potential return on investment in the economy of behavioral control. Now if you don't know what that means, That's okay. Just hold on to that idea from our first video. Habits are the investments of personal development. And we're going to open up this idea in the next video. Now that we know a little bit about habits and what they are, Let's shift to why they're so important. To start things off, habits are stronger than our intentions. Now, knowing this right here is worth months and months of your attention in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So pay attention one more time. I'm going to repeat it. Habits are stronger than our intentions. And that what this means practically is that we can't just change our intention and then expected our behavior will magically follow, okay, doesn't work like that. Unfortunately, in the belief that it does actually causes a lot of struggle and we've all been there, right? You think I'm going to start eating healthier or exercising or whatever it is. And then a week later you go, Oh my gosh, I was trying to change this and then you didn't and you get frustrated with yourself. Habits are a really powerful thing and we have to operate within their structure in order to make the long-term changes. We want to simply put, changing our intention alone is not enough. Okay, moving on. This is probably the most well-known reason what habits are important? Because they happen every day or at least regularly. Habits are our default behaviors then what we do rain or shine, which is why they're such an important lever for us to understand how to pull. Part of the reason this matters is because habits aren't neutral. Here's the way I looked at it. If a habit is not benefiting us, it's actually hurting us because that's a free behavior that could be helping us. And in this context of the economy of behavior, control, free just means mentally effortless. And if we're not taking advantage of as many free behaviors as possible or actively trying to, then we're doing ourselves a disservice. Okay, let's finish up with one we've already alluded to. Habits are important because they help us maximize profits in the EBC, because habits are investments and profit here is becoming who you want to be, behaving the way you intend to. So it's aligning your best intention with your actual behavior. And the best way to do that is of course, through deliberate habit creation, right? We just learned that habits are stronger than our intentions. So if we can create the right habits, we don't need to rely on that willpower over and over again to make ourselves do that behavior. Okay, We're nearing the financial analogy for habits in the realm of personal development. So let's head to the next video and break it down for you. We'll see you in there. 3. Financial Analogy: Okay, So big promise, a new way for looking at habits to understand their power. Now as you remember, habits are investments there, the investments of personal development. This is the idea we're going to open up right now. And we're going to do it by comparing investments to working at their core, right? What they are conceptually in a financial economy. Because these are the two mechanisms for earning income in an economy. So let's go over what each of these are. Working is exchanging time and effort for profit. Investing is exchanging now profit for hopefully more later profit. Now a key difference between the two is that working is effortful and linear. So for every hour we work, we get a fixed amount of income, no matter what, we always have to exchange effort for income when we work. Now this is called active income, and of course there are bonuses and gratuity and other caveats like that, but those just change the angle. At its core. It's still a linear relationship between effort and income. And this is really where the power of investment really shines through because investments don't require an ongoing input yet we receive an ongoing income. This is what we call an exponential relationship, because the income that we receive is both limitless and effortless, and this is called passive income. Let's go for a quick example. Let's look at the life of a successful actor. In the beginning, she spent all this time and effort practicing your craft, working on a bunch of different shows with different directors and cast members and so on and so forth. But once she becomes part of a successful show, she gets paid royalties every time the show runs, even after she's retired, meaning she gets paid without any more effort. Ongoing income, no more effort. So her income is effectively exponential because it continues to increase without further investment from her dad is passive income. Now, active income is, on the other hand, when in extra from that same show gets paid a fixed amount for the time they worked that specific day. So for active income, no matter how much you've worked in the past, you always have to work more to get paid more. There are no royalties with active income, so the income remains linear and effortful. So passive income, effortless, ongoing royalties for the actor, active income, effortful, fixed, single check at the end of the day for the extra. Okay, Hopefully that's cleared up the relationship between working and investing. Now let's look at how that relates to our habits in personal development. If you remember, neurons that fire together, wire together, behaviors become easier and easier the more we do them. Well, behaviors just like investments, have a tipping point where they become automatic, unconscious, and mentally effortless. This allows us to achieve passive progress because we will be receiving that benefit from these behaviors for free in terms of mental effort. So no more input, no more effort to do the behavior. Yet we're still getting the benefit that we're looking for. You can still get the physical benefit of going on a two mile run, however mentally effortful it was for you. So the best-case scenario is to make that behavior mentally effortless. You still get the health benefits, but it's now easy for you. That is an investment, that is the power of habit. So as you can see, the graphs here are exactly the same for passive income and passive progress. The tipping point is when the behavior becomes a habit. So gaining a habit is just like one in after earns royalties, we use our initial mental effort upfront to deliberately create the habit. And it's hard at the start, but as we continue to do it, it gets cognitively easier and easier until eventually it reaches the tipping point where the behavior becomes automatic, unconscious, and mentally effortless. It becomes a habit and it will continue happening, continue bringing in that benefit without further input. That my friends is an investment. And in the economy of behavior control, we call this effortless, ongoing profit, passive progress because these habits will be bringing us the benefit with what we want without future investment of mental effort. Remember, profit here is behaving the way you intend to, in the best way to do that is to create the habits we want. We'll be performing these behaviors effortlessly while still getting their benefit. Okay? If your body is tingling and you're feeling that's excitement, That's amazing. I'm hoping that things are starting to click with you. But if that's not the case in this, isn't quite making sense yet. Don't worry about that. New information is always hard to make sense of on the first go. So please re-watch this video again and again until you really understand it, right? This reframe of habits as investments is the most impactful one I've come across. So don't move to the next video until you really grasp this. I promise you, it's worth it. 4. How Habits Work: How do habits work? The good news is that it's not as complex as you might think. They follow a really simple structure. It's called the habit loop. What was first BF Skinner's stimulus response reward eventually became cue routine reward, which was popularized in the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Now there's also an updated version from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, where craving is between the queue in the response. And he calls the first two stages problem phases and the last two solution phases. Before we go over each step individually. Here's an easy example directly from Claire's book. Problem phase, dq is that your phone buzzes with a new text message. The craving is that you want to learn the contents of the message solution phase. The response is that you grab your phone and read the text. The reward is that you've satisfied the craving and read the message, which in turn enforces this loop. The result is that grabbing your phone becomes associated with your phone buzzing. So the q here is also known as a trigger or reminder. It can be emotional, physical, environmental, internal. It's whatever kicks our brain into a specific habit program. Q is the point of realization. But this realization can be unconscious, like when you look at your phone or open the fridge and then completely forget what you did in the first place. Something unconscious triggered that behavior and you forgot why you did, because there's no real reason driving that behavior in the first place. It was just an automatic reaction. Now I'm sure you all remember Pavlov's dogs. The queue for hunger is usually the time of day or sight or smell of food. But after training the dogs, he was able to associate something else with the food. Most famously, the bell. What happened was the bell became the queue. In other words, the dogs heard the bell and they started salivating and we're ready to eat. And the good news is that humans work just like this, which is really important because it shows us that we can use an arbitrary Q to evoke a meaningful response. Okay, that's a huge deal. Arbitrary Q, meaningful response. Now, if you're wondering how to pick the best cue for your habit, we're going to walk you through that in the next video so that you can act on that knowledge right away. All of this video is just informative. We're going to use the action portion for the last video. Okay, the queue is detection. Now, what's the craving? The craving is direction. The cravings what causes us to move towards our goals. It's the desire phase. Only when we really crave something that we're motivated to do it. The reason we crave things is to change our internal state. The craving creates this tension that the reward than alleviates. Okay? Now that we know the what and have the want, we have become motivated to act. This leads us to the response. We don't have to overthink this one, okay, It's really, really simple. The response is what we do. It's the behavior that results from an internal or external cue. It's the first part of the solution phase and our attempt at getting the reward in satisfying the craving response in this example is grabbing your phone in reading the text, super-simple. The next part of the solution phase is the reward. This part is what actually makes the loop a loop and allows it to continue. It perpetuates the cycle. So the reward relieves the tension that was created by the craving. If we relieve this tension, then dopamine is released in our brains. Remember that specific sequence of events, Q, craving, response, reward. If the craving is satisfied and we have achieved the reward, that one and say, Okay, those are the stages of the habit loop. Simplest form. And now that we have a pretty good understanding of what habits are, why they're important, and how they work. We're ready to move on to the final phase where we put all of this learning to use and actually create your Hadoop plan, you'll find the rest of the information you need in the next video, as we walk you through step-by-step, how to create your habit plan, will see you in there. 5. Your Habit Plan (Action Exercise): All right, Good for you for making it to the action portion of this course. Because you know, as well as I had that understanding is not enough. Or goal here is embodiment. And the only way to embody these learnings and take advantage of them is through practice, through doing. And to be honest, probably failing, going back to the drawing board, trying again and again and again until we're able to create a path that's right for you and your current situation. Now you have a plan should be right below this video. And I just wanted to say one thing before we start filling it out. Try not to split your attention between watching this video and creating your plan, okay? Pause the video, take your time to think about it and really make the right choices when you're deciding this, because this is going to have an inordinate impact on your success of making this behavior become a habit. Take your time, pause the video when you need to fill out your how that plan and then watch the video. Okay. It's going to be some watching, some filling out, some watching some filling out. Take your time, be deliberate here. First things first, put in your email address so that we can actually send you this plan when you're done filling it out and make sure to actually submit it because if you don't, your progress will be lost. All right, step one, what habits do you want to gain? Now, we're going to use meditation, for example. But maybe for you it's running or reading or eating healthier, whatever that behavior is that you want to gain. Now you might be tempted to pick a behavior you want to get rid of. But that's a little more complex. So for right now, we want to choose a habit you want to gain. Pause the video, make that happen. Now that we have the behavior in mind, let's figure out some specifics for that. We're going to head over to our webinar so we'll see you in there. So how much do you want to do this behavior For me? It was 20 minutes a day. Go ahead and think about that and write it down. So how long do you want to do your behavior? Or maybe it's write 1000 words a day or send three texts to my loved ones a day. What is the quantity or dosage that we're after? Now I want you to think about how consistent you want to be with this. What's the frequency? Is it five days a week, once a week, six times a month? To be at least semi deliberate here. But know that you can always come back to this later. Now once you have those two numbers, I want you to rate that habit on a difficulty level of one to ten for you right now. So not thinking about when you've gained this habit and it's effortless, if you were to start tomorrow, how hard would it be for you to do that end goal? If it's really hard to maybe give it a nine or a 10. If it's not quite as hard, maybe give it a three or four. Use your scale and how you think something would be difficult. What we're gonna do next is find the starting point. Instead of starting at the end, like we all tend to do, we're going to be using the end to inform where we begin. So we're going to work backwards from that end goal. And the reason I had you break it down in terms of difficulty just then, is that now we can have that and use it to reduce our end goal accordingly. If your difficulty rating was an eight or above on a scale of one to ten, I suggest starting around somewhere if 25 percent of your end goal. That's what I did with meditation. I wanted 20 minutes and I started with just five. That's 25 percent of my end goal. If you rated your habit day seven or below in difficulty, you probably don't need to reduce the starting point by that much. I might look at 50% of your end goal. So for me, that would have been 10 minutes of meditation per day. Now, before we finalize the starting points, I want to run through a quick check with you. There are two major things that we really want to care about when we create our starting 0.1, we want to answer the question, is this starting point enough to make me feel fulfilled, like I've accomplished something. Then the second is this starting point small enough to actually allow me to be consistent with it? Consistency cannot be overemphasized here because that is the language that our unconscious understand. What I did was break down my weekly success into three categories. One, if I was successful, I would increase my dosage and we'll get into what successful means in just a minute too. If I did, okay, then I would keep my dosage the same. And three, if I was unsuccessful, then I will decrease my dosage. All of this is so that we progress at a rate that works for us. And life has, it's ups and towns, right? It's in constant flux. So we need a strategy that takes this into account and that can adapt with our current situation. I'm sure you've bitten off more than you can chew before. I think we all have. The beauty of creating these success categories beforehand is that you've already planned out for the good and the bad, which a lot of people don't do and that lack of planning right there is white people give up too soon. So what does success mean here? It's going to be different for each of us. The way I want you to think about it is if I do my behavior this many times per week, then I'll feel confident increasing my amount I do next week. The way I did it was by attaching really clear numbers to each of my three categories. So a successful week for me looked like five to seven meditation that week. If I did five to 75 minute meditations, I would increase my dosage by one minute. So from five to six minutes the next week, if I meditated three or four times, I'd keep that same dosage because that meant I hadn't yet mastered that level of difficulty. And the trouble comes when we start trying to do more than we currently can. So that's why we have our third category. If I meditated 0 through two times, then I will decrease my dosage by one minute because that was telling me I was trying to progress to quickly. I was biting off more than I could actually chew. So in a perfect scenario, I would have reached my 20 minutes a day after 15 weeks of 537 meditation's. Now that seems like a long time, but compared to my previous two years of unsuccessful habits gaining, that is a 100 weeks plus just so you know, 15 weeks is actually a really small amount. So now let's walk through it with your habit together. Step 1, deciding your rate of improvement. Mine was super small just one minute because I wanted it to be imperceptible. I want it to be as easy as possible so that I could keep the momentum. The less effort required, the more consistent we can be. And maybe some of you don't want to wait 15 weeks to go from a to B. I completely understand that and that's fine. You determine your rate of improvement because what we're about to go over next is actually going to help us stabilize our progress. Step 2, breaking it down into the three categories of success. What does success look like to you? Write down how much you would have to do to earn increasing the next dosage. So you feel comfortable taking on more than you previously were. Saying. Your starting point is write 300 words five times a week. Okay, maybe your success here looks like 300 words, four to five times a week. Or maybe you want to re-establish your starting point and make it 100 words five times a week. It's all up to you how you want to do this. The key here is to be clear, you don't want to leave any room for misinterpretation because we are all master rationalize, and can too easily convince ourselves out of doing something that is effortful. Remember, our brains are always trying to save energy because creating a habit by nature is effortful. So we have to outsmart ourselves in plan as much as possible. We do that by being entirely clear. Now let's follow that same process for the next two categories. So what is your frequency look like at the middle ground, this is really where you found the right dosage, but maybe haven't got the frequency down as well as you would have liked. Remember mine was three to four times meditation per week. I said, Okay, that's a good amount, but not enough to move me forward. Also, not too little to actually move me backwards. We're after momentum here. So we want to find the dosage that will allow us to yield a successful frequency. Okay, we've established the starting point and the rate of improvement for our behavior. Now we want to figure out the specifics of the habit itself by getting really clear on the context. Think of this like painting the picture of your future reality. We want to think about everything we can that we're going to be doing or that's around us with this behavior. So what are we doing it? Who are we with? What are we wearing? Anything that can help us plan it out beforehand. So that it makes his reality is easy to visualize and realize as possible. Again, we want to make sure we can be consistent. So picking things that we can actually do is wildly important. Let's take a look at our example. It might look something like this. And the key here is that I'm being really specific, anything that might be meaningful to me and that habit that it will help me create and recreate this experience is useful here. It may feel weird planning it out so granularly, but it's going to make it easier for you to actually do it. So again, take the time and write it down. Here's a friendly reminder. Pause the video. You may feel rushed, but that's okay. We're not going anywhere. This video is right here. We want you to be clear, so take the time, press pause and figure it out, write it down in your plan. Okay, moving on. Now that we're clear on the behavior, Let's look at the reward. The part that tells your unconscious self this behavior is something worth repeating. Think about it like giving your dog a treat after you say sit for the first time when you're training them. We operate in the same basic way. We can literally train ourselves just like that. And realistically that's how we actually make behavior changes stick. It's simple as that. Remember, we can't just change our intention and expect to change. We have to train ourselves. And you have to actually reward yourself if you don't, your inner dog won't associate the right action with that. Feel good. And if you don't do that, then that loop will never take form and actually start. For whatever reason, it can be difficult for us to reward ourselves, especially the high achievers among us, because it feels almost silly to reward these little things. But little wins add up in there actually would allow us to achieve big results. Now when it comes to creating the best reward for ourselves, there are three things that we want to make sure. First, we need to make sure it's actually rewarding to us, okay? Whether that's an external reward in the form of a smoothie or an internal reward in the form of positive self-talk, saying, great job, Chris, Keep it up. Next, we need to choose a reliable reward. Can you count on this day after day after day, where you always have access to it when you need it. That's one of the reasons why internal awards like positive self-talk or smiling can be so powerful because they're always with you. Lastly, we want to make sure that you can reward yourself right after or even better during your behavior. This is our unconscious is able to make that association between the behavior in the feel-good. So if we wait too long for that association to be made, it won't actually happen in the loop, won't be formed. Okay, Lastly, the queue, when thinking about the best cue for us, two of the biggest things are visual and obvious, meaning you can't miss it, you can't ignore it, okay, When you walk pass it, you know exactly what it means. Another really important characteristic of a great cue is that it has a singular association between it and the behavior. For example, my cue for running is my niece lives because I literally only use them for running. So they don't have any other meaning to me. And a little hack here, maybe buy yourself a new alphabet for this habit, you're trying to gain closure. A huge part of our contexts that we have direct control over. And it's much easier to train the brain with a new association than it is to overcome a pre-existing one. Now the last thing I'll say about queues is the best ones can be acted upon right away. So in the same way that you want your reward to be available immediately after your habit. You want the habit to be available, right when your queue brings awareness to you, you wouldn't set a reminder for your phone at 03:00 AM right in the middle of the night because you won't be able to act on that right away. So it's a bad cue. And again, we're trying to associate the queue with the routine and the routine with the reward so that we can actually form that loop. Again. Click pause, take your time to fill out what would be the best cue for your routine. All right, that wraps up our final video of habit hackers one-to-one. I'm so happy that you've got your new how claimed going. One last thing before we leave. Progress is tough. Okay. Change is hard. It's not going to happen on day 1 or 2, or 17, or 48. It's an ongoing process that we've tried to plan out as much as possible here. But you need to continue putting in the effort. And eventually it will get easier and easier and easier creating an effortless habit. So if you have any questions or comments, feel free to write them down below, or if you prefer, email me at Chris and had that and I'd be happy to help you however I can. Thanks again and I wish you all the best in your journey. As always, had that habit.