How to Make Habits Stick

Series 2, Episode 9 | 7 March 2023

Show notes | Transcript

Progress is when an F1 and an F2 are greater than an F3 and an F4. So push and pull are greater than habits and anxieties. In today’s Circuit Breaker Show, Bob and Greg discuss why New Year’s resolutions or new habits are hard to maintain as well as their frameworks for achieving and maintaining them. As a first step, they address the forces of progress before moving on to effective strategies. These include making the change smaller, matching it to your motivation and building a time wall. You’ll will be introduced to the concept of “outcome vs. output”

Bob will share his weight loss journey, his two key metrics and how these strategies have worked for him. You’ll understand why these strategies don’t work for everyone and why you need to find out for yourself which one is right for you, depending on your personality.

Join us for this thought-provoking discussion.

Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn in this Show:

  • Aspirational goals versus progress
  • The force of progress is not stagnant; it’s dynamic.
  • How to make your goals more attainable
  • The importance of building a time wall
  • And so much more…

 

Hosts

How to make habits stick – Transcript

Welcome to the circuit breaker podcast where we challenge the status quo of innovation and new product development. We’ll talk about tools and skills and methodologies used to build better products and make you a better consumer. I’m Bob Vesta. And I’m the co founder of the rewired group, and I’m one of your co hosts. And we’re joined by Greg Engel, who is my co founder and chief Bob interpreter. Join us now as we trip the circuit and give you time to reset reorganise and recharge your brain to build better products.

 

Greg
So today, we’re going to talk about something that is, you know, similar to the lot of things we’ve talked about in the past, but I just want to focus on and slow it down. So and I’ve picked the topic, and we’re, you know, depending on when this thing drops, for sure, we’re two months to three months into the new year. But I want to talk about why New Year’s resolutions or why new habits are hard to stick. Right? So I want to and the reason why I want to talk about that is because I think we have tools to help with that from some of our frameworks. But then also, I think change is very important to humans as as, as a whole, and we have to get used to change and change is hard. And that’s what new resolutions or new ideas are change. So I want to frame it up. Basically, you know, thinking about how do we how do people, let’s say New Year’s resolutions, and a lot of times it’s diet, exercise, those types of things, goals, how do we make them more sticky? How do we make sure that that we can attain that new thing, instead of making it so abstract or whatever, that we can

 

Bob
…say this is where again, we go back to our, our big tool of the forces of progress, right. And so as we start to think through the forces of progress, the first thing is you have to you have to really understand why you want to change, right, and it gets back to there’s a difference between the output and the outcome. And a lot of people say, oh, I want to lose weight. And if you only frame this from I want to lose weight perspective, the reality is like, you’re probably going to be unsuccessful. And part of this is because you need to actually anchor it in the outcome in what you can do, or you can’t do what you couldn’t do before. And you can do now, or you want to be able to do and it’s this aspect of being able to kind of frame the future with by achieving these outcomes, right, as you know. And so the notion is, is most people set goals that are either too, too specific or too close, and they end up having one metric. And it’s when when they don’t, when they go a couple of weeks without losing any weight. It’s like, oh, this is horrible. That’s like, Yeah, but look, look at the progress you’ve made, you’ve been able to do this, or you can do that now that you couldn’t do before. And so part of this is one being very clear on your forces, but to also being mean to and the outcomes and not necessarily just the output. And

 

Greg
I want to talk a little bit about there’s notions that we talked about, which is aspirational goals, and progress. And they’re two totally different things in our heads. Right. And it’s I think it’s something that can help people, which is aspirational to us is when I just say hey, wouldn’t it be great if, and that’s what a lot of times we do when we say we want to lose weight, or we want to exercise more wouldn’t be great if I started doing this, and there’s no meat behind the what would be great. And that’s usually when you know you’re doing something that’s aspirational. And what we say is you haven’t put the work in to actually understand the progress. And from your perspective, what is if that’s the definition of aspiration, what’s the definition of progress? What, in your mind, what is it definition of helping people see the progress?

 

Bob
So it’s back to I mean, for pretty much most of my adult life, I’ve been very large, right? Almost, you know, to 50 to 80 to 90 at some points, right and back and forth, and always trying to do some things but always focused on GS building businesses and that were like worried about myself. And though I knew I needed to lose weight, and it’s like, I could never stick with it. And so part of it was being able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and make it not about weight but what what can I do Wow, I’m sleeping a lot and I’m tired and all these other things and like, I can’t think and, and then the other part is what am I missing out on. And so part of it was framing all the things that I was either missing out on or being able to be part of, or things that I would want to do that I couldn’t do, because I was that large, right. And so part of this is really framing out kind of like kind of seeing the future, but also talking about connecting the past and the future in terms of, like, if I didn’t have the weight, what could I do. And so part of it gets back to.

 

Greg
I want to stop you there for a second, I want to, you gave the story. And I want to give the definition, because I want people to understand what we’re talking about here in progress to us. And it’s a required thing again, or above master thing. Progress is, and we’re going to put this in the in the show notes. And you have to picture the force of progress, once you pull anxiety habit.

 

Bob
And progress is actually when an F one and F two are greater than F three and F four. So push them polls are greater than habits and anxieties. And the reason why we say that is because there’s a notion of that force of progress is stagnant. And first price is actually not stagnant. It’s actually dynamic. And it’s living and breathing. And you have to be thinking about that all the time. So when you do you’re forced to progress when you want to make a change, you have to talk about those things you just talked about, which is what’s going on today. And that was you can’t sleep as well, you’re tired, maybe, you know, in our line of work, we can’t think fast enough, I think fascinating. Exactly. And then the outcomes are things like if I do that, I can kind of mitigate those things. And maybe even more, I can do more, and I there’s a lot more I want to do. And if I  have all this weight I can’t actually get but…

 

Greg
you also have to think about the things underneath that watermark. That’s right, right. Because your habit is too long for you is to drink wish it was to Yeah, to maybe drink, maybe maybe Gray’s instead of eating a big meal, you might graze I realised

 

Bob
I ate 1000 calories of almonds a day.

 

Greg
And then and then the anxieties are if you have to give up some of that stuff, and you have to go out on a client meeting, you can’t socialise. Right, because you’re worried about those things. So you have to get all those things out. And that’s why we say it’s, it’s f1 and f2 has to be greater than an f3 and f4. And you have to always think about them. And it’s not a snap decision of you do it one time. It’s you have to actually go back to those forces of progress over and over and over again. And then not only identify them, be okay, with short failures. That’s right, because you’re gonna learn from it, you’re gonna go out and you’re gonna go out and drink maybe too much, or you’re gonna go out and you’re, you’re gonna have a stressful day, and you’re gonna have that candy bar or something’s gonna happen, right? But then you have to reground yourself into, okay, that happened. But why am I doing this again? How do I not fall back into that bad habit?

 

Bob
And what’s the consequence? If I don’t do it? There’s another part of this of being able to say like, what happens if I slide back? And what what what am I? What’s really going to happen?

 

Greg
So the first step of making stickies what we’re saying is really identify those forces of progress. And

 

Bob
…be clear on the change in why you want to make the change and why the change is so hard.

 

Greg
Yep. And then the second part of it is, once we do that is keep that in mind all the time, and remind yourself and forgive yourself. And maybe even change, I was forced to progress because as as you make some, like you lose your first 15 pounds. Yeah, you might change a little bit. And you have to keep making those dynamic, that change dynamic, because otherwise it becomes habit habits.

 

Bob
That’s right, status quo. That’s right. I think BJ Fogg talks about a lot in terms of like, there’s motivation, right and ability. And the fact is, is what happens is like it in January, when you set the resolution, you’re very highly motivated, right? You put on a few pounds over Christmas, and what’s going on. And the thing is, as real life kind of comes back and your motivation is lower, all of a sudden, you fall off. And so part of this is actually understanding your motivation for the change and making sure that you’re designing the degree of change to match the level of motivation you have, because if you have too much,

 

Greg
…so I want to get to that. But I want to, I want to get to that very, so in the first step know, very directly. The first step is you have to identify what’s going on. And you have to know that it’s going to be dynamic, and you have to be able to change and tweak as you go. But now, what are strategies because you started getting into strategies. So what are strategies to help you through this change as you go? Yeah, so the first strategy we’re trying to do is,

 

Bob
There’s couple strategies one strategy is to make the change a little smaller, as opposed to making it so big. It’s so divided into smaller pieces. So it actually, you know, your motivation doesn’t have to be so high so it’s not like Hey, I want to get to 200 pounds is like I want to go from 280 to 260. And like, what can I do now at 260. And like now that I’m at 260, we’re going to do next. And so part of it is, is you might have this bigger goal, but the thing is, is you have to actually kind of make it more attainable. Because if the reference point is 200, and it’s starting at 280, it’s like, okay, I’m to Okay, up to 60, or 270 to 60. Like, I’m still a long way away. But if I say I started to AD and now now the 260, I’ve lost 20 pounds is like, that’s pretty good. And so you start to realise it. So part of his reference point, and part of it is making it smaller.

 

Greg
Yes. So I think the word you use was attainable. And I think that’s the right thing and, and know that you can write your force of progress of trying to get down to the 200. But you just need to break them up. You just need to break it up. So we’re not saying we’re not saying cheat yourself. We’re saying, reward yourself. And those metrics should be rewarding,

 

Bob
Not unreasonable, not penalising. Like, oh, gosh, I still got 60 pounds to go. It’s like it’s not like no, I’ve lost this much weight. So the other thing, I think there’s another strategy, which is the aspect of kind of building a time wall, right and, and being able to artificially create a date of what you have to do a buy, that then forces you to kind of have that push. And so it’s kind of like it’s a combination of attainable. And with a time deadline of some sort that allows you to kind of realise that there’s trade offs you have to make to get to that if there’s no deadline, there’s no time wall, I prefer the word time while because it’s like, as I get closer and closer to the wall, there’s more and more pressure to get it done. And so I don’t think about it as drop dead, but more like that pressure forces me to make trade offs of what I can do and can’t do. And so those are the those are some of the things that I do to kind of help this Make, make the change stick is make it smaller, make it have have some metrics, and also have basically ways in which to make sure that it’s time bound, so I can actually figure out kind of what to do next.

 

Greg
Yeah, I think what we’re talking about there with both those strategies are we’re just trying to frame it and frame to frame it to be attainable. And then also measurable. Because a time wall to me, you know, it’s artificial. Time while because if your life – well, no, it depends on your personality, if you’re a person that gets very anxious at time, well could be to some things, too much pressure. So you just have to figure out what where you’re coming from, but you’re talking about a metric, right? And time is a metric. If when we think about wall, it might throw a little bit more anxiety. And so make it something else to make it a goal. I don’t it doesn’t matter to me what you call it,

 

Bob
but have it but have a have a deadline somewhere in it. So it enables you to kind of make, you need to be able to make trade offs, you need to be able to give up something and get something and you have to be able to make that very, very tangible and conceptual intermediate, what are you going to do?

 

Greg
So the first step was, so what we’re really talking about is we’re talking about strategies here. And there’s also a strategy of of you could, which, in most cases is not possible, but in some ways it is you can actually get rid of the old way completely. So

 

Bob
it’s gonna say there’s two more strategies that I have to kind of make change stick one is, is this notion of firing the old like, to be honest, I got rid of all my clothes that were too big. The first thing I did actually is I wore the clothes that were too big for long enough for people to go like, wow, you lost a lot of weight. Right?

 

Greg
What was that for? Is that fishing for compliments, or what was really….

 

Bob
… I think part of it was is like to be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I was gonna stay off or not. And so it’s like, I’m not really too invested. And there was anxiety, there was anxiety around it. And so the thing is, I wore it, but thing is, is as I got more people saying I lost weight, and then I’m saying like, Okay, can I sustain this? Then I said, Alright, now I’m gonna start getting rid of the clothes. And as I bought new clothes, I bought them at like a smaller size. And the thing is, is what it is like, okay, and then those got bigger, right? They got too big. And so then I had another period. So part of it was this whole notion of like, okay, I’ve had to revamp my entire closet. But at the same time, that’s kind of the I did not anticipate that going into this. At the same time.

 

What it is, is it’s the way in which to say like, I can’t go back, because I don’t have those I don’t have I don’t have the fat pants anymore, right, where you gain a few pounds, like, oh, I can put those on. Nope, don’t have that. And so part of it was firing the old. The other is actually having metrics that are in place that help remind me that I’m still on track. And so I have two major metrics that I have one is a continuous glucose monitor that really taught me how to eat and when to eat and how to make sure I didn’t spike my blood sugar and a lot of those kinds of things. And so I don’t wear one all the time, but I wear one like for two weeks on and one week off, one week off so I can have a little fun. But for the most part, I understand what what alcohol and peanut butter and bagels and all these things do to me and when to eat. And then the other is an aura ring, which actually helps me understand how my sleep is going. And if I have those two metrics and those things are in, in line, it makes sure that I maintain the changes that I’ve been putting in play.

 

Greg
So I think to recap, what we’re really talking about is the first step to make things sticky is you really have to think about your force of progress. And you really have to discover the things that are going to hold you back, which are, which are the habits and anxieties. The second part of it is to make goals or metrics. And you can’t just make the metrics, the big ones, you have to think about long term, midterm and short term goals. That way, it’s, it’s, and that’s and that way, it’s it’s attainable. But it still gives you that, that sense of there’s something bigger out there, right. So you have to break it down. And the other is, then build your life for success, use some strategies. And it’s not us all the strategy we talked about, there’s way more strategies than what we talked about these, these are our default kind of ones. And I’m sure we have kind of derivatives, but those are the most everybody…

 

Greg
Everybody has some strategies, or they’ve read about them and put the right ones in place for you. If you’re somebody that thrives on pressure than time was great. If you’re somebody that has a little more anxiety than me, you have to make something a little softer, know yourself and make those use those strategies in the right way to be able to attain got it. So what’s the assignment? So today, the assignment basically is just to, again, get used to using the force of progress and think about if you made a resolution and you’re not, I’m not gonna say failing, you’re not reaching that thing. The progress isn’t being made reexamine it? Did you actually is it aspirational? Or is it actually progress? Do you have the right metrics and then go through the steps and I want you to go through it and don’t make it anything that’s going to be a year or more maybe, maybe maybe something that’s small, but just go through it and really practice that using the force of progress to to set it and then using the that input to create metrics that are attainable. And that’s really the assignment for this week. Alright, see you guys next time.

 

Bob
Thanks for listening to the circuit breaker podcast. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. If you know somebody who’s stuck on the innovation treadmill, please share it.

 

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