With a strong enough why, the how will nearly take care of itself.
With a strong enough why, we can break the nastiest habit.
With a strong enough why, we can start almost any habit and make it stick.
When it comes right down to it, we are just not motivated enough. We don’t want it enough. It doesn’t mean that much to us. We don’t have a strong enough why.
How do we get a strong why? Let me list three ways:
Make a list of all the reasons you want to form a habit or break a habit. Make the list long. Make it emotional. Make it matter.
Make a list of all the bad things that will happen if you don’t break that nasty habit. Again, the longer the list, the better.
Make a list of all the good things that will happen if you do break the nasty habit. Did I mention to make the list long?
We are all influenced by two things: pain and pleasure. Managers know to motivate with both the carrot and the stick. Parents motivate with rewards and punishments. We do well to motivate ourselves the same way—by getting in our head a long list of why we do want to break a nasty habit and what bad things will happen if we don’t.
I am developing the habit of exercising every day. Here is my list or reasons to exercise:
I want to live to see my grandchildren.
I want to live to see my daughter get married.
I want to write a few more books.
I want to write a few thousand more of the lessons I write—Good Questions Have Groups Talking.
I want to feel more energy.
I want the people in my world to respect me.
I want to have higher mental and creative functioning.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Here is a list of bad things that might happen if I don’t exercise:
I might not live to see my grandchildren
I might not live to see my daughter get married.
I think you get the idea from here.
Motivation is 90% of almost everything. With a big enough WHY the HOW almost takes care of itself. A list helps us with that. I love the title of Simon Sinek’s book: Start with Why. Speaking of book titles, here is another great one: Keith Holden’s The Power of Raaargh! I haven’t actually read that one, but you gotta love the title. With a strong Raaargh! in your gut, you can break any nasty habit. A list can help with that.
The Bible and lists
Two examples come to mind with reference to lists, one positive, and one negative. In one example we see someone use a list to sin, in the other we see someone avoiding sin with a list. First, the negative. Notice how many reasons Eve had to take of the fruit:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6 (NIV)
Eve looked at the apple and saw that it was good food. Who doesn’t love a good apple? But wait, there’s more: not only was the apple good food, it was also pretty. Who doesn’t like pretty food? Chefs train to prepare tasty food, but also food that looks tasty. In an expensive restaurants, presentation is everything. The apple tasted great and was presented well.
But wait, there is more: it was desirable for gaining wisdom. Everyone knows that apples make you smart. Tastes great. Looks great. Makes you smart. With these three reasons, who could resist? The rest, as they say, is history.