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3 Habit-Building Mistakes that Keep You from Changing

There’s a better way to build habits. There are books written about building habits: "Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones" by James Clear, "Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything" by BJ Fogg, "Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick" by Wendy Wood.

Having worked as a coach with many high achievers, helping them to “install” new habits in the areas of health, nutrition, brain performance, I learned that “novices” usually make these mistakes. Simply because without proper education - we don’t know better. The science is out there - just not evenly distributed. (Isn’t it everything in today’s world?)

Here are 3 things you believe aren't important that are actually crucial to habit-building success in any area - trying to eat better, work out, have better social media or emotional regulation habits.

    1. ▫️START TINY, START SIMPLE - leave challenges behind

    Consistency first - Intensity second. Never forget this.

    In a state of enthusiasm about new goals and new habits we tend to choose the most audacious, the most inspiring, the most challenging goals. Especially high achievers.

    “I’m gonna challenge myself and become an ultimate workout hero!”

    It lasts approximately a week, sometimes a month. What happens then? Life kicks in, challenges come up, dopamine of novelty wears out. Results? We quit, very often thinking that it might not be for us after all.

    The mistake: in the complexity of our lives where we already have a lot on our plates, we simply can’t afford to start out with new routines that take a lot of our time and attention. We have a life to live, business to manage, relationships to figure out.

    What’s the solution❓ Start with the minimum effective dose and once that becomes a habit we don’t have to think twice of - add intensity and complexity.

    Consistency first - Intensity second.

    Want to work out? - choose a 10-minute YouTube routine but do it daily.

    Want to eat better? - substitute your snacks for protein, fruit, nuts, carrots. Make it a habit. Add additional step.

    Don’t try to add complexity that promises great results.

    The only results that you get to keep long-term are the ones that come from the habits you can keep long-term, not a fasting-keto-biohacking protocol that you’ll never be able to maintain.

    Leave your ego at the door. Start small. Make it consistent.

    Consistency first - Intensity second.


    New habits will slip your mind.

    Unless you link them with the habits you already do, ideally “sandwiching them in”.

    Here’s what I mean by recipes and sandwiches.

    A recipe to never forget to do your new habits. Answer 3 questions: “How, when and where”.

    Let’s say you decided to do a 13-minute meditation protocol to improve your emotional control for poker games or business negotiations I mentioned HERE.

    Let’s say you can do it in the morning consistently.

    How, when and where❓

    After I brush my teeth in the morning I will sit down in the living room on my exercise mat and using the Balance app I’ll meditate for 15 minutes.

    How, when and where.

    After which I’m gonna take a shower. - That’s the sandwich, that works the best for new habits. Put the habit you want to build in-between 2 habits you already do routinely - make a habit sandwich!

    They used the recipe method to increase voters show-ups in a real-life scenario. They called registered people and asked them a simple question, “How, when and where are you gonna vote?” - the full experiment is described in "How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" by Katy Milkman book.

    3. 🎉CELEBRATE THE RIGHT WAY - You have a 20-sec window.

    If you want to wire your habits faster, burning it in like a tattoo in your brain's circuits, you need to use dopamine that makes us do more of ANYTHING that produces a dopamine spike.

    How can you use it for building new habits, that might be challenging?


    Right when you finish the habits (also during doing it is helpful) make yourself feel good, acknowledge the accomplishment, celebrate it with some power move like you’ve just won a championship.

    The most important part - you need to do it right then and there. Your brain doesn’t associate your habits in the past week or month with a SPA visit you treat yourself with at the end of the “challenge” period. This isn’t how dopamine works! BJ Fogg mentioned a 20-sec window to make feeling-good happen after you finish a habit. (Also, a piece of dark chocolate 🍫 will work super well, just like treats work for your puppy 🐶 Chocolate is a dopamine booster by the way - indulge mindfully.)

    Use these guys! They work powerfully and are based on very good research done by many behavioral researchers.

    What was new for you? Have you tried all of them? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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