Home » 121 – Make Habits Easy With Challenges 

121 – Make Habits Easy With Challenges 

by Jill

Make habits easy by making a 30-day habit plan and using the habit loop to guide your actions.





[Music] Have you ever wondered if a quick challenge could help you kick your year off to a great start.

That’s what we’ll talk about today.

[Music] Motivation is what gets you started.

Habit is what keeps you going.

Jim Rome.

Today we’re going to talk about the book, the big book of 30-day challenges.

“60 Habit-Forming Programs to Live Life Infinitely Better” by Rosanna Kasper.

We are not going to talk about all 60 items, but I wanted to give you a taste about how she breaks things apart so that you can form habits.

I think this is an interesting book.

If you’re looking for steps to be broken down smaller for you, and you want to have a recipe of how to do that, this book’s a great opportunity and gives you again 60 different examples so that you can learn how to do it.

She said the first thing to do is just do one thing at a time.

She says that it’s really tempting to try to take on all these different challenges, start doing exercise, start eating more vegetables, but instead just try to stick to the one thing.

She also says that you can seek help.

There’s websites and other types of tools, people that you can go to that will help you and be a support for you so that you can meet these new habits.

You know, it’s funny, ’cause almost every book I read talks about the importance of having a community.

She said the next step is to set up the environment so that you can succeed.

We’ve talked about that in past episodes too, about setting out your work clothes, getting rid of the junk food, making it easier for you to have success.

Then, the important thing is to make sure you have a contingency plan, which means that what are you gonna do when things go awry.

I travel for work, and so sometimes my diet, well, all the time, my diet has struggles when I’m on the road.

What am I gonna do in those situations.

Decide, she says, what you’re going to do, and then start putting it in your calendar.

Once you have it set up, tell everybody about it.

When you tell people, your work people, your friends, you’ll be able to stick to those commitments even better.

She said that you can use visual cues.

We talked about doing that in a few podcasts, including that shower one, about how to write up a vision board.

You want to have things that remind you of your goals all the time.

This was a long time ago, but I even talked about my own home and how I have a number of photos throughout the house are there to remind me about the things I love and encourage me hopefully to exercise and eat better so that I can pursue those things because now it’s not just this theoretical, “Oh, I’d like to be healthier.

I can see what I will get when I get to that place.

” So having visual cues, whether they’re vision boards or photos hanging around or messages to yourself written on the mirrors, you’ll be able to help yourself get through those types.

It’s important too, she says, so that you track your progress.

There’s that famous quote that says, “What gets measured gets managed.

” It’s a famous Peter Drucker quote.

So making sure you can track your progress so you can tell whether you’re doing right to tell you see if your patterns of habits are doing well will help you to encourage you to either do better or to keep going.

And we’re going to have places where we screw up.

So making sure that you don’t get too down on yourself if you screw up.

She says it’s important that we remove I can’t from our words and avoid things like I don’t have what it takes to do it.

I can’t lose weight.

I never lose weight.

You know, all those negative statements we have, we should avoid it.

You should say statements I can if And the if forces you, she says, to change your mind.

I can write a book, she gives as an example, if I wake up 30 minutes earlier every morning.

That’s her rule.

So she said the goal of her challenges is to build a 30 day running streak to try to get it so that you can do whatever habit it is for 30 days and you don’t miss a day because it takes a while.

I think we said it while that takes three weeks.

Some people it says it takes nine weeks to build a habit.

so you don’t even have to think about it anymore.

I mean, isn’t the goal of all our habit building.

So it becomes easier.

It’s great to lose weight and it’s great to get on a fitness habit.

But if you can get a habit in place, a system in place of doing it, then it becomes a no brainer.

Now you’re not expending energy to try to force yourself to do this or force yourself to do that.

And she says it’s important.

Guess what.

To start small.

So the idea is that if you’re going to do something, make it so small, you can’t possibly fail at it.

Make it so easy.

Everything laid out.

You can’t possibly forget.

So she gives the first example that she wanted to learn how to run.

And so she gave this, you know, plan that she scheduled her runs.

She preplanned her routes and everything she was going to do.

She made it easy by setting her clothes and shoes out.

She kept a log.

Remember, we want to manage what we do.

We want to measure what we do so she could keep track of it.

She joined a running club so she could get that support.

And when there were bad days, she was able to do something else because you know that if it’s raining out, you’re not going to be excited to run, especially if you’re already struggling to get yourself to do something.

If you’re not feeling great, if the weather’s not great, it’s going to be harder and harder for you to do it.

And then her last step was is that she made it fun.

She got some audio books, which is what I used to do.

I got the Harry Potter series on audio books, and I was only allowed to listen to them when I was at the gym.

So I had a sort of a reward built in there.

Now I have certain shows I’m only allowed to watch when I’m exercising.

And then make sure you reward yourself.

You want to make sure that if you reward yourself, you’re not going to reward yourself with something that’s going to destroy the thing you’re trying to build up.

So if you’re trying to exercise, you don’t reward yourself with a no exercise day.

Or if you’re trying to eat less sugar, you don’t reward yourself with a giant ice cream cone.

So you’ll have to keep that in place.

So that was an example of a formula, right, of how she sets that up.

It’s really good because she breaks it down into all the steps and you can see how she goes with it.

But again, there’s 60 of these formulas out there that are there to help you break things down.

It’s meant to be a starting block for you.

And again, the idea is that if you can get through that first 30 days, you’ll have a habit well on its way.

So keep that in mind when you’re thinking this seems very simple.

It is very simple.

And the reason it’s very simple is because we want to succeed.

You know, there’s just no way of building habits when you’re just failing at something day after day after day.

I think that what happens to me, particularly when it comes to exercise, is I got good at it.

I got good at it.

I was building up.

I was building up.

And eventually my requirements for what exercise was so large that when I fell apart because I hurt myself and then I was no longer able to walk basically reliably on my ankles, suddenly the whole thing came tumbling down and then my standards were still so high that it became impossible for me to get back going.

So the idea again is to make it so simple that you can succeed.

Some of the 60 day formulas she has are exercise related to exercise for 30 minutes to do 30 minutes of yoga to diet, intermittent fasting or other different diet methods that are out there.

Or can you meditate, write a journal, good types of practices, but she has a lot of formulas out there to help you break it down into small steps and actually get the habits in place.

And then if you’re going to talk about habits, there’s a James Clear article that is an amazing article that he wrote called “How to Start New Habits” that actually stick and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes.

But he quotes his own book “Atomic Habits” which is a fantastic book if you’re interested in habits in general.

We haven’t talked about that book in depth but everyone who writes about habits somehow pulls information from that book.

But he says that if you really want to change your habits, he says that you have to change who you are, what you think about things, and you know even the way that you put yourself out there in the world.

And he says how it works when it comes to habits is there’s first the cue, then the craving, then the response, and then the reward.

And then this goes on across time.

He has a chart to it in his book too.

But this, he says, is the backbone of everything that habits are, and that our brain will run through these steps every time.

We talked a little bit about that when we talked about the podcast Tiny Habits, which works a lot with research on habits.

But the cue is the trigger that will initiate the behavior.

So you’re thinking about exercising and you think, “I should really go to the gym and exercise.

” That could be a cue.

Or, “Wow, I looked at my watch and my exercise ring is not very filled out.

I should go to the gym.

” Or “I see my check mark on the board that says I haven’t been to the gym today.

” Or if you’re like my friend, she just knows when she hasn’t exercised.

I think she doesn’t even feel right.

“Ooh, I feel weird.

I should exercise.

” The cue.

That’s the trigger that causes it to happen.

And he says it’s ancient, you know, that a long time ago we needed food and the basics of living and we felt hungry so we went out and got food.

And we had these mental moments that would help us go out to do the thing we needed to do.

We’re constantly analyzing.

He says, “Your mind is continuously analyzing your internal and external environment for hints of where rewards are located.

Because the cue is the first indication that we’re we’re close to a reward, it naturally leads to the craving.

The craving is the next part, and that means that we feel the urge to do something.

Every Friday, you eat popcorn, you look at it, it’s Friday, it’s eight o’clock, popcorn time, now that craving kicks in.

So once the cue kicks it off, the next part comes in.

The third action is a response, and that means what do we actually do.

So if you have that cue to go exercise because you have not exercised yet today and you don’t feel well or that box isn’t checked off, what’s your next action.

Do you actually do the habit.

Do you forget about the habit.

Do you avoid it entirely.

And then once you’ve accomplished this response in a success, then you have the reward.

You feel good or you check something off a list that makes you feel good.

Someone said that the world of dentistry is the perfect example of this.

Toothpaste and mouthwash does not have to taste minty or refreshing, but we know that it works because we get that reward of that minty flavor in our mouth.

Ooh, now my mouth feels clean.

And that habit cycle of that clean, fresh mouth, it makes it into a really fantastic habit.

He says that if you don’t get to that habit, something is missing, whether it’s the cue, not showing itself, whether it’s the reduction of craving so then we never feel like doing it, and maybe we don’t have a reward that satisfies us in a way that makes us want to do it.

But once we get that habit of the cue, the craving, the response, and the reward together, that’s when habits take off.

And he calls it the habit loop.

So this works whether we’re working on a habit that’s good for us or a habit that’s not so good for us.

And how we either encourage the habit or disrupt the habit is based on this cycle.

And he gives some examples to it.

Your phone is buzzing, you’re craving, I wanna read the phone message.

Your response, you grab the phone and your reward is seeing what the message is, getting that relief and making the buzzing going away.

or the donut.

You smell a donut, you want a donut, you get the donut and you eat the donut and then you feel like, “Ah, that was a great donut.

” So you can see that this cycle works for good things for us, bad things for us, even innocuous things.

He gives the example that you walk into a dark place, your craving is you want to see something and you turn on the light and now you’re satisfied because you no longer fell down over the bed in your room that was too dark.

It’s not like I do that every day or anything like that.

But he says that once we have that, we definitely want to go to what he calls the four laws of behavior.

The first one is make our cue obvious.

The thing we want to do, not the thing we don’t want to do, like the donuts should be all over the place.

Then he says, make it attractive.

That will cause the craving.

Make it easy.

That’s putting the gym clothes out and setting the running shoes right by the door.

That will help us have the best response.

And then make it satisfying.

That’s going to help us feel rewarded.

And if we have a disrupt with any of these four laws, it’s going to cause us not to form a good habit.

He says, likewise, if you have a bad habit, you’re trying to break.

The Q step is to make it invisible.

I’ve joked in past podcasts about how I have grocery shopping Jill.

She won’t buy me cookies, she won’t buy me ice cream, she won’t do things for me.

And I’m allowed to have ice cream, I’m just not supposed to get it at the grocery store.

You can just go get it some other time.

And she knows grocery shopping Jill, I’m just too lazy to leave my house to go get snacks.

For the craving part of it, make it unattractive.

It may look great to eat ice cream, but if you can understand, maybe put pictures or a visual cue up there about why it’s the wrong thing for you to do, maybe a picture of your scale.

Of course, I don’t want to make it worse for you, but find out what makes it unattractive to you.

Make it difficult.

Again, don’t grocery shop for it.

Now I have to go out another time just to buy ice cream.

And then make it unsatisfying.

I have this weird thing that a lot of times I won’t buy snacks I really like.

I buy snacks that I kind of like.

Because if I get a snack and then I get addicted to it.

Let me tell you, Stacy’s pita chips, I get enough of them.

So I absolutely refuse to buy them anymore.

Because I just can’t make it unattractive, unsatisfying.

So when I get snacks I tend to get really boring pretzels.

So I can have the snack if I want to have the snack, but it’s not even that exciting to have it.

Make it unsatisfying.

So these are the steps that he wants you to look at when you’re either trying to encourage a good habit or discourage a bad habit and come up with a plan that will help you use the laws of habit to either encourage the loop or break the loop.

And if you’re interested more, he says, you could read chapter three of his book, Atomic Habits.

All right.

So my challenge to you is to come up with a quick habit loop.

What is one habit that you could encourage by using this idea of the loop and the laws.

Maybe even use that book, The 30 Days Habit, get some good ideas about what you’re going to do.

That’s essentially what her book’s about, is just giving you ideas of how you can make this work.

Then write it down and see if you can figure out a way to take those laws of habits and make it stronger.

Maybe even give yourself that 30-day challenge.

Alright everyone, thanks so much.

I appreciate you listening.

Please remember to subscribe to the podcast and tell a friend.

It will help people get to know this podcast and increase the number of people who are out there listening and hopefully gaining something valuable from it.

And just Just remember, you can gain strong habits by taking small steps.

[MUSIC PLAYING] (guitar chord).

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