January started at full strength and we reflected on your values and developed a clearer vision of the future. But now, February is here! This month is all about strengthening habits. We wanted to focus this month on something a little less serious and a little more lighthearted to take a little break (albeit still a productive one) from the deliberately ambitious goals we set last month. During February, we’ll be focusing on strengthening existing habits rather than breaking bad ones.
There’s a ton of things we know are good for us that we do when it’s convenient or when we have the energy, but we’ve just not managed to turn into a habit. It could be something like flossing or applying sunscreen daily or waking up when your alarm rings the first time. (Maybe one of the habits we’d like to form is actually writing in our planners on a daily basis!) Picking just a few of these small but achievable new habits this month will go a long way toward our greater vision, provided they are in line with the values we were able to identify last month.
- This article, on How Stuff Works, questions the common belief that it takes 3 weeks to form a habit. Unfortunately, it seems like this number is more arbitrary than anything. Nonetheless, some key tips and tricks on how best to form new habits are included, as well as an explanation of how habits actually work.
- The American Psychological Association released this short document on the phenomenon of Ego Depletion. The idea is that willpower is a finite resource and the more we use it throughout the day, the less there is. This may be important for those of us looking to develop new habits, as timing new habits earlier in the day may be a wiser choice when we're still struggling to form them. Research suggests that the more an action or decision becomes a habit the less willpower it depletes as time goes on. So maybe we'll be timing our workouts in the morning or day time rather than in the evenings.
- Norman Doidge's "The Brain That Changes Itself" isn't about habits per se, but more about the concept of neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain's ability to form new connections and pathways within itself throughout the course of our lives.The human brain is able to change and adapt to neurological damage in truly amazing ways. There's a story about a patient who learns to speak again after a stroke, a woman with inner ear damage who constantly feels she's free-falling learns to walk upright using a device primarily operated by her tongue. These stories speak to the amazing ability of the mind, and to the vast potential our brains have when we're able to understand the neural networks that are triggered and developed by repeated actions and thoughts, aka habits.
- Bad Habits Podcast with Justin Schlegel talks about all the guilty (and dirty) pleasures of the mind and body. They haven’t updated in a while, but Justin and Steve’s take on the things we repeatedly do and know we shouldn’t is hilarious and also makes us feel less bad about doing them too.