Building Resilience Habits
Looking to improve your wellbeing and outcomes? Here’s how to build better habits.
There’s a Behavioural Psychologist at Stanford University named BJ Fogg, who is well regarded as the global subject matter expert on Habits. Based on about 30 years of research, Fogg has proven it’s habits that drive human behaviour. This research proves that if you want to achieve success, in anything, then you’re going to need to understand what habits are, and how to build the rights habits for the success you want. And it’s easier than you might think.
The traditional view to achieving success is you define your goal and then you identify and tick off all the tasks required to achieve it. Tasks are the things you need to complete. But habits are the ongoing behaviours you implement on a daily basis that either help or hinder your progress… going to the gym each morning before work (good habit), skipping breakfast (bad habit), writing a to-do list when you arrive at work (good habit), scrolling through Instagram at every spare moment (bad habit). According to behavioural psychologists like BJ Fogg and the author of Atomic habits, James Clear, our lives are structured around habits. Many of them barely noticeable, but massively important in driving our outcomes.
In his book “The Power of Less” Leo Babauta describes how in 24 months he did all of the following:
• Quit smoking
• Lost 40 pounds
• Became a vegetarian
• Transformed from non-runner to marathon-runner
• Tripled his income
• Wrote a novel and a non-fiction book
• Eliminated his debt
How??? By changing ONE habit at a time, ONE month at a time. And you absolutely MUST FOCUS ON ONLY ONE HABIT at a time.
I’m sure you have witnessed (or experienced) this. Goals you’ve set yourself where you’ve attempted to massively change your lifestyle in a short period of time. It rarely works. All goals require discipline and follow through, like strict diets or exercise regimes, but if we try to change too many habits too fast then more often than not we end up crashing in a heap of frustration and going back to what we’ve always done. And getting the results we’ve always got. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The purpose of a well-crafted set of habits is to ensure that we reach our goals with incremental steps. In fact, once we develop a habit our brains actually change to make the behaviour easier to complete.
Changing your habits is actually not about willpower, it’s about focus. For example, you don’t need to ‘will’ yourself to take a shower or brush your teeth. Why? Because it’s now a firm habit. But these were once daily behaviours your parents likely had to force you to prioritise and focus on. If they hadn’t, your teeth and your personal hygiene probably wouldn’t be as good as they are today.
So what are the daily habits you’d like to work on building for yourself? Here’s how to identify suitable habits for yourself…
GOALS vs. HABITS – Goals don’t get done, Habits do!
You want to learn a new language. You might decide you want to be fluent in 12 months (goal), or you could commit to 30 minutes of practice each day before work (habit).
You want to read more books. You might decide you want to read 30 books a year (goal), or you could commit to always carrying a book with you and reading 15 pages during your daily work commutes (habit).
You want to spend more [quality] time with your family. You could plan to spend X additional hours with each of them (goal), or you could commit to a family dinner / time for connection each night at 7pm (habit).
So what’s the outcome you want to achieve. Less stress? Better relationship? Improved Health? Whatever the ‘goal’ is, identify what the daily habits are that will get you there. What are the day-to-day behaviours (like prioritising time for relaxation, socialising, or an exercise plan) that you need to adopt on an ongoing basis to achieve this outcome?
A common piece of advice for those seeking to build a new habit is to start small. Fogg recommends “tiny habits,” such as flossing one tooth. After about 30 days of practice, enacting a habit becomes easier than not doing so. So once flossing one tooth becomes ingrained as a habit after 30 days, the degree of complexity can be increased, and by month two you will be easily able to extend your habit to include flossing all your teeth. This will be the same for any behaviour you want to become a habit at work or elsewhere. What is the micro habit you need to work on first?
One of the habits I’ve been working on throughout the Pandemic is listening more than speaking when I’m in an important conversation. This is to achieve my goal of building meaningful connection and trust in my relationships (Social Resilience). So my micro habit reads like this…
“When I’m in a conversation with someone I care about, instead of jumping in with my thoughts and opinions, I use paraphrasing and empathy to ensure I understand their perspective and make them feel heard.”
Your Resilience Plan into action
For years you’ve been told that setting yourself goals and defining tasks to complete will lead to your success in work and life. But behavioural science has now proven that the faster way to change your behaviour and achieve more successful outcomes is to build the right daily habits. To have a well-crafted set of habits that will enable you to maximise your wellbeing and performance outcomes, with incremental steps. And the best bit is that it only takes around 30 days of focused effort to establish a new habit, and 60 days for it to become a lifestyle. So, considering the Resilience Action Plan you created in your Resilience training with us, what habit are you focused on prioritising and building first?
WANT TO EMBED NEW RESILIENCE HABITS INTO YOUR LIFE, TEAM OR ORGANISATION?
Checkout ripen’s Resilience sound bites Podcast with habits and insights for anyone to become more Resilient. Each episode is delivered in 5 minutes or less, providing sound bites you can fit into even the busiest days…
Babauta, L. (2009). The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential. Hachette Books.
Chang, J. (2013). Tiny habits: behavior scientist BJ Fogg explains a painless strategy to personal growth. Success, p.54.
Clear, J. (2014). The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time. Retrieved July 2019, from jamesclear.com.
Dalton, A. N. & Spiller, S. A. (2012). Too Much of a Good Thing: The Benefits of Implementation Intentions Depend on the Number of Goals. Journal of Consumer Research.
Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C. H. M, Potts, H. W. W. & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology.