Whether you are working in the kitchen, the yard, or the workshop, using the right tool for the job makes all the difference. Have you ever tried to "wing it" on some task rather than stop and get the right tool only to find yourself spending way more time and effort to get a way worse result? In hindsight it seems obvious, "Get a hammer, Einstein. Don't try to drive that nail with the back end of a screwdriver," but somehow it's easy to lose track of the obvious right answer along the way.
The same is true when the "task" you're working on is a healthy lifestyle change, like starting to exercise regularly or to significantly improve your diet. Making a big change and sticking with it is really hard. If you try to wing it, there's a good chance you'll struggle and fail. Ever start a diet or exercise program only to quit after the initial momentum faded? It's tough, isn't it?
Use the right tool to significantly increase your odds of having your big change endure over the long term. The right tool for this job? Habit. Once something becomes a habit, you'll do it nearly automatically, with very little thought or effort.
Our brains are lazy, always looking for the easiest ways to do things in order to conserve energy. Habit is the brain's own tool for making things easier to do. Once your brain creates a habitual routine around something, the routine moves from the part of the brain where conscious, intentional thought happens to a much older part where it can be retrieved easily and automatically. Scientific experiments measuring brain activity show that the brain works significantly less hard to perform a task once it has become a habit.
Your brain will turn anything it can into a habit. It happens all the time. One study estimated that over 40% of our actions are actually the result of habits rather than conscious thought. Think of things you do every day: getting ready for work, making yourself coffee, driving to work and home again, booting up your computer, etc. Most of those things are probably habitual.
But you probably didn't create those habits on purpose. Your brain did it on its own. Habit will be a much more useful tool if you can choose which things to use it on. Luckily, you can create habits on purpose. There's no magic to habit formation and the principles are pretty simple, though applying them successfully can take a bit of trial and error. Like any tool, you need to learn how habit works in order to use it properly.
Here are a few of the basic concepts:
If you want to learn more about habits, including how to start or change them, then I recommend you check out two blogs and two books.
Have an awesome day.