Here we are. It’s 2018.
Suppose this year you’d like to eat more apples and less potato chips.
Regardless of what your goal is, there is an awesome little trick that can help you with these small micro-habits that you do every day.
When it comes to the apples and potato chips, it’s as simple as buying some apples and setting them on your kitchen counter. And then — you guessed it — don’t buy any potato chips. Boom.
By making apples easily available, you have lowered the energy required to eat an apple. It’s right there. Sitting on your counter, ready to go. And those pesky potato chips are nowhere to be found. They’re at least a trip to the store away.
This trick goes for anything…
- Lower the activation energy required for writing by having your writing topic ready to go ahead of time.
- Lower the activation energy for going to the gym by setting out your workout clothes ahead of time.
- Lower the activation energy for reading book by keeping one on your coffee table (or use the Kindle app on your phone).
And the converse (for things you want to do less of)…
- Raise the activation energy for checking social media by deleting the apps off your phone.
- Raise the activation energy for watching TV by keeping the remotes in a bedroom on the opposite side of your house.
- Raise the activation energy for checking your phone while you drive by turning on Do Not Disturb While Driving
If your books are hiding next to the lamp on your bedroom nightstand, no wonder it’s easier to just pull out your phone and check Facebook when you have a few minutes of down time.
This stuff applies to more than just healthy micro habits, by the way.
If you want to get advanced, think of ways to lower the activation energy for doing the next step on your current project.
In his book, Getting Things Done, David Allen says that you cannot do a project, you can only do the next step. There is a lot of wisdom and maturity required to take a bigger project or outcome and boil it down to one step at a time.
And by picking that one action ahead of time, you’ve already lowered the activation energy required to doing it. When you put a desired behavior onto a path of less resistance, it will take less energy to accomplish it.
Take it one step further by getting into the habit of doing something now that will make your next step easier to begin. And then repeat in perpetuity.
Shawn Achor writes in his book, The Happiness Advantage, that “the more we can lower or eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.”
As always, thanks for reading. Next week we’ll talk about how to define meaningful progress (and recognize that progress) so you stay motivated as you work toward your goals.