Developing Winning Habits

Why Habits are Stronger than Routines

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
– James Clear, Atomic Habits

Three ideas I use to change automatic behavioral responses:

Habits vs. Routines: What’s the difference?

Most people use the words habit and routine interchangeably. However, there is a significant difference. 

A habit is a process; it takes time to develop. A routine is an event; it either occurred or it didn’t.

This distinction is critical because the development of a habit is non-linear– they’re will be days when life happens, and you fall off. The definition of habit creates the necessary space for making mistakes. The definition of routine creates a pressure that you need to be perfect from the very beginning, that if you miss one day, all your progress is gone because your actions are not yet habitual. 

  • Do not beat yourself up if you miss a day here or a day there; it has no tangible impact on your long-term habits. The key is holding yourself accountable and working to get back on track as quickly as possible.

  • Do not give up if it takes you longer than 21 days to develop a new habit. Building anything meaningful takes time; it is supposed to take longer than that. 

Keeping these ideas in mind from the beginning allows you to stack small wins, which increases the likelihood of you being able to stick with new habits. 

The Science Behind New Habits

People used to say that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. In reality, the development of a new habit takes, on average, 66 days, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology by Phillippa Lally. 

But that is the average. The revolutionary takeaway from this research was that the amount of time it takes to develop a new habit is dependent upon the complexity of the action you are attempting to engrain. 

So, what does that actually mean? 

Some habits are easier to implement, like “drinking a glass of Core first thing in the morning.” Others can be harder such as “going to the gym every day before work.” 

The more difficult the skill, the more time and effort it will take to create a new habit. 

Whenever I go to implement a new action into my daily schedule, I ask myself these questions:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how hard is this skill?

  • What existing habit can I pair this action with?

  • What frictions will prevent me from accomplishing this task?

  • How can I limit them?

  • What is the goal/my motivation behind making this change? 

The goal behind creating any new habit is to make an action that requires conscious thought automatic. Understanding the complexity of the skill is critical for achievement. 

Pair Positive Actions

The fastest way to adopt any new habit is by pairing the desired action with an existing daily protocol. 

For example, let’s say you want to begin journaling. Pair this action with your morning coffee. 

The morning coffee is non-negotiable, something you can’t forget. Keep your journal right next to the coffee pot, which removes the friction of having to pull it out. There is an existing time limit associated with your morning coffee; hold yourself accountable for that amount of time. 

When you’re trying to make incremental changes, it helps to leverage existing habits within your day.

How to Create Instinctive Change

These three theories will help you build better habits

  1. Habits vs. Routines: A habit is a process, and a routine is an event. 

  2. The Science Behind New Habits: The time it takes to develop a habit is dependent on the complexity of action. 

  3. Pair Positive Actions: Combine desired actions with existing daily protocols.

Building new habits or eliminating old ones is not easy. But, by implementing these ideas, you can increase the likelihood of making your desired response automatic.

Give them a try, and share your experiences with me!

Today’s Optimization

I am a creature of habit– I spent a considerable amount of time, effort, and money designing my dream life. I like to control the controllable, which is one of the reasons I hate traveling. But travel is one thing you cannot eliminate from your life completely. Every time I go on the road, I pack Kreatures of Habit because it allows me to regain control of my nutrition. I know that I will have (at least) one meal covered every day where I will be able to hit my 30g protein goal.

Quality nutrition while traveling is possible, but it requires effort and planning. One new habit that I am currently implementing is packing for my next trip as soon as I get home. This way, I never have to think when it’s time to leave the house; I know that I have all my supplements packed and ready to go. Today Kreatures of Habit is offering Movement Memo subscribers a deal: 15% off your purchase of Kreatures of Habit using code “Hinman15”

Today’s Movement

The Hardest Mile Ever: complete for time

  • 400 Meters of Burpee Broad Jumps

  • 400 Meters of Walking Lunges

  • 400 Meter Bear Crawl

  • 400 Meter Sprint

About Eric Hinman

Based in Denver, Eric is an Endurance Athlete (5x Ironman), content creator and social media influencer, sponsored by dozens of consumer brands. Some of Eric’s partners include Vital Proteins, GNC, Ten Thousand, Beam, Lane Eight, Chipotle, and Whole Foods.

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