I have been doing an experiment to improve my upper body strength. The experiment consists of doing a simple press up routine in the morning and evening.
I have applied four behavioral change techniques to get me going.
The first technique is habit stacking. This involves attaching a new routine to an existing one which you already do. So I stacked my new press up routine to the daily activity of showering. The showering triggers the new routine to begin. Before showering I do a few press ups then jump straight into the shower. Stacking habits is a very effective way to get yourself to do things which you would otherwise struggle to do.
The next technique I have applied is the Seinfeld strategy. Seinfeld was a famous comedian who once revealed that his strategy for telling good jokes was to write jokes everyday without fail. So I have been exercising everyday for the last two weeks. This principle is similar to repetition. We learn through repetition. The more times you do something the better you become at it. To reinforce the new habit I have set up a visual trigger which is a wall calendar. Each time I exercise I cross out that day on the calendar. After a few days I had a chain. My goal now is never to break the chain by missing out on the day. The visual chain is my new incentive to keep going.
The third technique is continuous improvement or incremental change. I started by doing ten press ups in the morning and ten press ups in the evening. Each day I increase the number by one. It’s been two weeks and I am doing 24 press ups in the morning and 24 press ups in the evening. Using this simple approach I have more than doubled my productivity in two weeks.
The last technique I have used is breaking down big goals into small actionable steps. My overall goal was to improve upper body strength. I chose a simple but effective routine. I started small because at the time I could only do ten press ups. I then slowly increased the number of reps each day.
You see this approach can be applied to any area of your life be it career, relationships, money, business, etc. Success is a matter of identifying what you want, breaking it into small actions, doing them consistently, developing the right habits, tracking your progress, and continuously improving.
Just make each day better than the previous one.