Plenty of people have studied the effects of habits, and plenty more like Charles Duhigg and BJ Fogg have done research on methods to solidify habits.
I don’t like how sometimes the things I want to do for a greater good - not eating two scoops of ice cream in order to stay on the fast lane to a six-pack, not watching TV late at night so I can wake up early the next morning - feel like they are things that I have to refrain from. They require motivation to not do.
It’s a curious contradiction. The six pack is something I want. Yet it takes some effort for me to convince myself that it necessitates actions that I have to do (or not do).
I read this quote a couple of weeks ago, from James Clear’s excellent blog:
The schedule is your friend. You can’t predict when you’ll have a stroke of genius and write a moving story, paint a beautiful portrait, or make an incredible picture, but the schedule can make sure that you’re working when that stroke of genius happens.
I’ve found this to be true in many aspects of life. Anecdotally, there is a marked improvement in performance with regular practice. For things like weightlifting, I keep the numbers to verify this.
I did not want to write this blog post today. It’s nearly the end of the day, I had a long day at work, a lot of things happening, but I wanted to make sure I kept up with my streak. I wanted to be honest to myself. I also like the fact that through this online medium I am accountable to people who are not me. That certainly doesn’t hurt.
I think habits are the answer. Habits turn things that you have to do into things that you just do, without complaining to others or to yourself. Willpower is barely a part of the equation.
Compound interest - which is what you accrue when you form a good habit - is a wonderful thing.