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How can you form habits that stick?

Cheat Sheet Fact of Life: Build a habit by understanding your nature.


You come home from office and settle on a comfortable chair, in front of the Television. You decide to go for a work-out  at 7.00 PM. You are flipping through the channels and find something interesting. It is 7.00 PM. You feel, ‘I cannot go for a run now. This show is interesting. I will go tomorrow.’ Tomorrow could be a different story.

We all struggle to keep up our resolutions. Habits help us be consistent and make steady progress in our resolutions. Habits are brain’s way of simplifying/detouring the decision-making process.

In her book, ‘Better Than Before’, the Author Gretchen Rubin wrote about how to develop habits. Develop habits that are true to your nature.

People can be broadly classified into 4 categories. I will take the example of exercise and write about how to develop the habit of working-out.

Upholders: Upholders are ‘habit’ cheer-leaders. They cultivate habits. They also uphold values. They like to track their progress using whatever means, to-do lists, apps, diary etc.  If you are an upholder then work-out should be part of your routine.

Upholders like striking things off to-do lists so they will exercise as long as it is part of their to-do list. 

Questioners: Questioners don’t do anything unless and until it makes sense. They are motivated by reason, logic and fairness.

Questioners have to be convinced that workout is good for their health, then they will take steps to cultivate the habit. 

Obligers: Obligers like to oblige others. Obligers depend on external accountability. They fear the thought of letting other people down and not meeting other’s expectations.

If an Obliger has to form a habit of workout, he/she should pair with a friend. They will go for work-out because they don’t want to let their friends down. 

Rebels: It is difficult for rebels to develop habits. Asking or telling rebels to do something makes them do just the opposite. Never tell a rebel what they should do.

Instead tell them not to exercise, the chances are they will put on the running shoes, just because you said not to. 

Larks and Owls: If you are a morning person (Lark), you will not stick to your decision of working out late in the night. You would rather wake up early to get a healthy dose of exercise. If you are a night person (Owl), don’t ever think about waking up early to get something done. Because ‘tomorrow morning’ will never come.

Figure out which bucket you fall into and develop habits that stick.


Background image modified to include image of the book cover. Book cover image from google images.

Photo Credit: Elias Rovielo via Compfight cc

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This blog is my time capsule, which allows me to travel back in time. Twenty years from now, I want to scroll down my blog list, pick a random blog and be amused by the post. If we have time machines in 2034, then I can type in the exact day of the blog and press the magic button, to transport me to those 'good old days'. That is the grand plan. Psst..don't let out this little secret of ours.

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