Habits are not 66-day activities. They are lifestyle behaviors that pay dividends over time. To make habits automatic, repetition is required. Start with something small that you can do consistently, such as making your bed in the morning. Successes show progress, and progress is a powerful motivator to begin other habits. If you wonder why kids (and adults) return to video games repeatedly, consider all of the ways the games show progress (through points, sounds, etc.). Video games also increase the challenge gradually so that you learn the fundamentals in the beginning and slowly increase your mastery.
One way to increase the likelihood of repeating a habit is to attach a reward onto the behavior immediately. Simultaneously, disrupt bad habits by immediately pairing them with the pain you’ll feel in the future if you start them.
If you read every day, you have proof that you are a reader. “Reader” is your identity; it is what you believe about yourself. Why is being a reader beneficial? You can solve any problem by gleaning through texts to find answers. The more books you start, the more ideas you’ll be exposed to. Keep reading the books that call to you, and ditch the rest. Read the high-quality books twice.
How you react to a stimulus depends on your state. If you’re tired, you might forgo reading and scroll through your Facebook feed instead. While it might seem that some people have more willpower, in actuality, they have less temptation. For instance, if you keep your phone in another room, you aren’t fighting the temptation to check it constantly, and you have more willpower available for other activities.
James recommends joining a group in which a behavior you would like to cultivate is considered a normal behavior for the group. Having something in common with the group also helps you connect more deeply with them. For example, a singer who wants to improve her diet could join a local choir that meets once a week to sing and cook together. A positive environment is crucial for positive habits to be built, and people in the group can offer you immediate feedback which leads to faster learning.
In the first 2 weeks of building a new habit, start with 2 minutes of the behavior. What would you do to prepare for a walk? You’d spend 2 minutes putting your shoes on and getting dressed for the walk. After 2 weeks, you can start improving the habit by increasing the time you spend on each walk. If you want to prevent a habit from being built, make the action more difficult. In order to cut back on TV watching, take the batteries out of the remote control.