Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).
-Stephen R. Covey
Picture this-You are starting your day all nice and happy, but before you know it something does not go according to plan.
Now you are irritated, tired, and frustrated, thinking I’ve lost all motivation to do anything.
You are not alone. It happens to me and everyone you know.
And that’s where the problem starts.
The domino effect comes into play. One bad thing to start your day, and then the entire empire of happiness comes tumbling down.
Motivation is like dating. It seems attractive when you start but, it cannot keep you going for long. It’s nice, to begin with, but to build a relationship, you need a commitment. That’s what Habits are.
They are commitments.
Habits are what help you build a relationship with yourself. It creates a system to get you out of the dating phase and get into a cold-hard commitment to start your new life.
I’m not against motivation but, I’m an old-school romantic and a sucker for relationships so, habits are what I naturally align with.
What is Motivation & What are Habits?
The reason why we start doing something is called motivation.
A general desire to act or the willingness to be in a different state of being than before is called motivation.
But, Habits are activities that we tend to do daily in a similar fashion. It is a routine that may or may not need our entire consciousness. It can be automated if performed enough times.
A motivation to do something good which rewards us the first time tends to get repeated. That’s how habits form.
Humans work for instant gratification rather than building a system for motivation. That’s where we lose motivation for tasks that don’t reward us immediately.
Motivation to have ice cream-Good
A habit of Having ice cream everyday-Bad
Motivation to relieve stress- Good
A habit of having a pack of Cigarettes every day- Bad
Motivation to work harder every day-Good
A Habit of overworking and breaking down every day-Bad
So this means the signals or cues that we get to act are not the problems but how we react to them is. It’s not the ice cream that’s bad, It’s the habit of having it every day that makes you lose control.
How can I motivate myself daily?
The single most important learning from one of my favorite books of all time is to build a system.
Think of it as making motivation a habit. How cool would that be, right?
Most people are hard on themselves for the single reason of losing motivation. Instead, build a system that makes it consistent for you to get motivated. Make it simple but significant.
Here’s what I learned from James Clear about making motivation a habit:
1. Be Specific: The next time you start telling yourself that you will do “X” tomorrow, you are doomed for failure. Why? Because it is generic as hell. Do your homework and plan the task you will perform.
Instead of saying, “I will work out tomorrow,” you can say, “I will work out at 4 pm after lunch.”
It saves you time rather than hunting for willpower and sets you up for a clear goal that you want to achieve.
It is difficult to muster up the courage if you are not well prepared.
2. Dumb it down to the basics: The most important part is to start so, why not make it as easy as possible. If you get into an easy routine, motivation can follow you around like a Lil puppy.
Think of it like this:
If you want to start working out, your first step should be as easy as changing into your workout clothes. Once you get through this obstacle, two things can happen:
- You are too lazy to avoid going to the gym now or,
- You are motivated to go to the gym because you completed this task.
And both of them are WIN-WIN. That’s how you start easy and meet motivation along the way. Remember, the most important step is to get started and, this makes it easy to start.
3. Flowing into the routine: Now that we have figured out how to start easily, it’s important to move into a state that helps us take action. Lack of motivation usually affects the mental and physical sense of being. You can relate demotivation with lying on the bed, or too lazy to do anything.
Whereas if you are motivated, you are usually in a state of motion or hopping around. It affects your mental state as well and puts you in a mindset to start an action.
For Eg: If you want to cook something delicious, start with just walking into the kitchen. Now that you are here, you can see utensils and ingredients that can bring you closer to the actual act of cooking a meal.
4. Repeat the routine for consistency: The only thing left is to automate the process for your brain. In other words, make it a habit, do it every day and build a routine.
If you follow the process every day, your mind notices the pattern and gets optimized to perform this action step by step, all day, every day.
The first three steps are the triggers to do the action. After that, you act, and finally, in step four you make that action into a habit.
The entire process takes you from delicate motivation to a tight-knit system of habits that helps you perform better.
The best way to start is to be inspired, take action and build a system rather than waiting for motivation.
No good ever comes from waiting to get inspired because chasing perfection is a myth. Start today even if it means to start small but make sure you grow as you go.