Habits

WHO

Group

WHERE

Group-room

MATERIAL

Pen, A3 paper, computer

FACILITATOR

Host

"Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny." - Lao Tzu

Introduction: Positive psychology claims that any performance or achievement is a function of your ability to automate an action, making it a system 2 process, your ability to process new information and hard work (Karp 2016, Kahnemann 2012). In this task, we will focus on sharpening the ability to automate an action, to make something stick, to go from a single action that requires lots of conscious effort, to it being more easily activated with less effort. Even though our goal can be to change some physical habit, we will still focus on mental work here. It is more often the mental strength/stamina that makes the difference in this kind of work. Trying to form new habits and/or patterns can be exhausting and time-consuming. For example, trying to change too many habits/patterns at once can have a negative effect, increase stress and strengthen the habits you are trying to remove. But by mastering our ability to consciously implement the habits that will lead us to our goals we also get an insight and embodied experience of what it actually means to change. This insight is important when we invite other individuals, teams, departments, organisations or nations to change the habits and systems that will lead to our collectively desired goals. In the task below we will explore and map out current habits and patterns, review them, and then discuss how to form new habits, and how to increase your mental strength. We focus on the link between habits/patterns and mental strength because of the difficulties often met in this kind of work.

For a deepdive into Habits we recommend either reading Atomic Habits or seeing the summary videoes underneath:

How

1

(20min) The Habits Scorecard is a simple method you can use to become

more self-aware and notice habits and behaviors that you may overlook.

To create your own Habits Scorecard, start by making a list of your daily habits in a typical week. Start at the beginning of your day and write down each habit you do: wake up, turn off your alarm, make your bed, brush your teeth, etc. Try to zoom in and out to see habits that may span over a week / month or more reoccurring patterns in a specific hour in one of your domains in life. You can make this list as long or as short as you would like, but we tend to find that a longer and more comprehensive list is more effective. Once you have a full list, look at each behavior, and ask yourself: “Is this a good habit, a bad habit, or a neutral habit?”

  • If it is a good habit, write “+” next to it.

  • If it is a bad habit, write “-” next to it.

  • If it is a neutral habit, write “=” next to it.

If you’re having trouble determining how to rate a particular habit, here is a question we like to use:

  • Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be?

  • Does this habit cast a vote for or against my desired identity?

Habits that reinforce your desired identity are generally good. Habits that conflict with your desired identity are generally bad.

When creating your Habits Scorecard, there is no need to change anything at first. The goal of this exercise is not to change your behavior even for bad habits. The goal is to simply notice what is actually going on.

2

(30min) Group up with a partner and share your thoughts. After a short introduction, switch your focus towards helping each other to find two habits that you would like to remove and two new habits that you would like to implement. Then, use the elimination method to pick out one habit you would like to remove or implement. Push and support each other when needed.

3

(30min) Return to your group. Changing habits/patterns requires a lot of conscious effort, to aid this process it might be a good idea to reflect on ways to improve your mental strength/stamina. Discuss with the group to find strategies/techniques or ways to improve mental strength and ability to focus. Guiding questions: What are good ways to improve mental strength? What can you do to improve your ability to direct your attention/focus? What kind of relevant experiences can you share with each other from this kind of work, mistakes you made and strategies that worked for you?

The problem is that when I really ask myself “Why didn’t I have a healthy lunch today?“, it usually isn’t a faulty trigger, a lackluster reward, or flaws in any of the dozen supporting strategies I’ve researched and taught. It’s usually because I didn’t have a filling, healthy breakfast. And that was because I didn’t get up early enough. And that was because I went to bed late. And that was because I worked late, because I didn’t get enough done that day, because I didn’t have enough energy, because…I didn’t have a healthy lunch. In other words, the answer seems to often be “Because I didn’t do other habits.” - Tiago Forte

References

Kahnemann, Daniel. 2012. Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Karp, Tom. 2016. Til Meg Selv.

| Further Reading

Atomic Habits Book- No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

Atomic Habits Cheat Sheet

Last updated