Changing a habit from Time based to Event based and Atomic Habits Chapter 7

After my daily gym challenge ended, I figured it would be easy to get a three or four per week gym habit. Or not.

Twice. I've only managed to go to the gym twice in two weeks. And, I was happier when I did the gym every day, even when it made things a little difficult for social engagements. But I find myself saying "Well, I only want to go three times a week, and I could go tomorrow instead." Since that's clearly not working, I need to change the habit. I know that the habit of "After work, I go to the gym" was successful. I'll change my ambiguous "Three times a week, I'll go to the gym" to "If I have no social engagements in the evening, I will go to the gym after work."

This means I will go to the gym on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of this week. Since I almost always have Fridays off, I will go to the gym after my two cups of coffee or tea per my December Friday habit. Of course, it doesn't help that the gym is packed, due to it being January, and everyone wants to start their resolution to get into shape. By February, I'm sure a fair amount of those folks will have disappeared.

Chapter 7 was a rather short one, focusing on self control, where the best self control isn't actually using energy to refuse old bad habits, but removing the cues from the environment.

Chapter Summary:

  • The inversion of the 1st Law of Behavioral Change is make it invisible.
  • Once a habit is formed, it is unlikely to be forgotten.
  • People with high self-control tent to spend less time in tempting situations. It's easier to avoid temptation than resist it.
  • One of the most practical ways to eliminate a bad habit is to reduce exposure to the cue that causes it.
  • Self control is a short term strategy, not a long term one.

I agree with the notion of self control being only for short term. When you first employ self control, it's a novel process. If you don't change your environment, eventually your self control will be depleted if you have had a bad day or needed to exercise self control for other things during the day. I know that if I'm having a lousy day, I'm using up a lot of self control, and by the time lunch or dinner comes around, I've used it up and I am more likely to make poor eating choices if I've not created a good environment. Environment change doesn't need to be something drastic, either. If I put my phone in my kitchen, I'll forget to check it, and I won't mindlessly scroll Reddit if I don't have it near me. Something different enough to break the mindless habit instead of using self control and willpower to avoid the habit staring you in the face.


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