The difficulty of creating good habits is that it takes time for them to become automatic, but our brains want to get some enjoyment right now. We prefer to do things that result in instant gratification and postpone activities that would cause us some immediate discomfort. This is true even if we are aware that in the long run, we could enjoy the results of the effort.
To make it easier to create habits, one must understand and change the sense of enjoyment and pain associated with the activities. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant side of the useful activities, shift your focus to enjoying the results of them. Think about how pleased you feel when, for example, daily exercise has become a habit: you feel super, you have lost extra pounds, you feel more confident… Don’t focus on the fact that it is difficult, maybe even painful, to do it at the moment. Think about how much you will regret not developing this habit for yourself and how grateful you are for doing it.
Focus on the positive part of each activity, even if the “cookie” at first glance seems too far away.
Just this morning, I had to analyze my activities according to the same system. I am currently in the process of creating an exercise routine for myself every morning. Ideally, this would mean walking for 15 to 20 minutes outdoors to wake up, breathe fresh air, think about the day ahead, about what I am grateful for, and a little bit about visualizing the future. Overall, this is not a difficult activity and I am already doing quite well. But for example when the autumn comes and the mornings are dark, there is a desire to stay in bed.
To get myself up, I wondered what kind of pleasure I would get when I would go out (feeling good), what kind of pain I would experience if I didn’t go (I would regret not going), what kind of pleasure I would get if I didn’t go (sleep a little longer), what kind of pain I would experience when I go (none). And so the decision was made. I have never regretted being out in the morning, always feeling better afterward, and being happy to have done it. However, every time when I haven’t gone out, I have regretted it. I’ve been trying to create this habit for years, but I haven’t been able to withstand it for over a month. Now that I know how the habits work, I am absolutely certain that I will permanently make this activity completely automatic.
What pleasure do you get when you do it? What pain do you feel if you don’t do it?
This system of considering pain and pleasure is suitable to avoid delaying any activity. Even if you aren’t into creating habits, I’m pretty sure you can use it in everyday situations, and analyzing some of your activities in this way helps you to get some things done.