Everyone is approaching habit formation the wrong way.
Most so-called habit experts and academics approach habit formation with a behavior in mind, and then try to use tricks and tactics to get a person (or group of people) to repeatedly do the behavior in question.
I call this the Habit First approach.
Start with the desired habit → use tricks and tactics to get people to do the desired habit.
Sounds reasonable, right?
Unfortunately, it’s wrong. This approach is doomed to failure.
The fact of the matter is that habit formation is easy when the right behavior is chosen.
If a behavior doesn’t become a habit for someone, it’s because it’s the wrong behavior for that person. It’s not because that person didn’t use enough behavioral science or habit hacks.
Analyze your own life for a moment. You probably have a few “bad” habits you’d like to get rid of.
Did you choose those habits? Did you try to form them?
Or did they just happen?
They probably just happened.
That’s because our brains are wired to form habits with relative ease—at least, when we encounter a behavior that feels good or solves a recurring problem.
At the end of the day, that’s all habits are: reliable solutions to recurring problems we encounter.
If a behavior is high value, our brains will encode it. Before we know it, we’ll be doing it all the time.
So what does this mean?
It means that habit formation is really just a matter of finding the right behavior for our problem—our goal.
If we choose a behavior that accomplishes our goal, is enjoyable to do, is relatively easy to do, and is compelling… a habit will form. No behavioral science trickery required.
The 4 Es of Habit Formation
A habit forming behavior will be one that’s: