Creating Your Masterpiece: Tips for Building Positive Habits
“Make each day your masterpiece,” said John Wooden, famous American basketball coach. He’s one of the many famous and historical figures that tout or exemplify the importance of a consistent routine to foster success.
Tony Robbins plunges into a 57-degree pool every day, while Beyonce wakes up, prays, meditates, and naps at the same time every day. These figures are all cited by Dr. Jonathan Fader, a performance psychologist, as people who’ve identified the habits they need to achieve their goals each day.
According to Fader, a former director of mental conditioning for the New York Football Giants and the New York Mets, routines are our own personal masterpieces — we just need the right tools in place to create them.
In the latest entry in our Building Forward webinar series, Fader shared his pointers for simple and effective ways to build positive habits that last.
Why New Year’s resolutions fail
As we kick off 2022, many will use the start of a new year to consider a new goal or work toward an aspiration. But, as many know, these resolutions can struggle to stick.
According to a study conducted by Martin Oscarsson, Per Carlbring, Gerhard Andersson, and Alexander Rozental, 64% of participants were actively working toward their resolution after one month, but after six months only 46% of people still adhered to their goal. Why is this?
Over a third (35%) of participants who failed at their resolution said they had unrealistic goals, while 23% said they forgot about their resolution altogether.
Many of these people lack actionable plans around how they’re going to achieve their resolutions — there’s no structure in place to support the act of building a habit. They need a “what,” “why,” and “how,” according to Fader.
What, why, and how
A positive habit needs structure in order to become sustainable, which is why Fader developed an approach organized by “what,” “why,” and how.”
The “what” is all about identifying your goal and finding ways to keep it top of mind. Fader, for instance, built an acronym for his goals called GEMS, which stands for guitar, exercise, meditate, and stretch.
Just writing your goal down or finding a way to remember it increases the likelihood you’ll follow through — it represents a commitment to behavioral change.
If you haven’t established a “why” behind your goal, you don’t have the fuel to move you forward. To form a habit, you have to identify an internal motivation that inspires consistency. Start with something connected with your values — your role as a parent, commitment to your passions, or long-term vision for your life.
How long does it take for a behavior to become a habit? Studies have proven it takes 66 days — a two-month plan — to canonize something and make it automatic. But how do we become consistent?
As humans, we’re more motivated by carrot versus stick — positive over negative reinforcements. So we need to find ways to inspire the behavior we want to see, which can often be done through gamifying, connecting, and protecting our habits.
Tactics for reinforcing a behavior
According to Fader, gamifying, connecting, and protecting our habits are the three ways we can make a “how” happen and reinforce positive behaviors.
Can making your bed be fun? That’s the question Fader worked to answer, creating a game designed to inspire him to make the bed every day. While making your bed is usually viewed as a bit of a drag, Fader turned it into a test to see if he could make the bed differently every day, even sending his wife and kids pictures of his new creation each time.
There’s strength in numbers, and that rings true for positive habits as well. Find others with a similar goal to yours, connect with them over the shared vision, and identify strategies to hold each other accountable. For example, Fader’s friend created “The 100 Club,” where every member of the group committed to 100 jumping jacks, sit-ups, or whatever exercise they could do in a day, all rooting each other on as they worked to hit that number.
Protect your goals by tethering them to other aspects of your life. Before you go to bed, say what you’re grateful for. Or when you see a sign in your house, take a minute to stretch.
By creating these bonds, you create a sense of accountability without feeling like you’re punishing yourself. Goals become sticky, making them feel like natural parts of your life.
Becoming the best you
We’re all striving to be the best versions of ourselves — morally, psychologically, and physically. But you can’t achieve greatness without having a roadmap to guide your way.
By using Fader’s tips, you can weave repeatable patterns into your life that naturally foster and solidify habits. You can create techniques that help you get better at what you do, while still enjoying the masterpiece that’s your own life.
Learn about the practices behind positive habits by visiting Fader’s website or check out his book, Life As Sport. And stay up to date on the latest thought leadership and strategies on the hybrid workforce by joining us for upcoming events in our Building Forward webinar series and reading our blog.