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The 4 Keys to Making Good Habits Stick

Do you want to know what it takes to make a good habit stick? In James Clear’s book, “Atomic Habits”, he lays out the 4 keys that make habits stick.

This September, we are doing a fitness challenge to raise awareness for suicide prevention (988 StepUps & 988 SitUps). I want to show you how we’re helping our members stay on track with this challenge using the 4 keys that James advises. 

To make sure a new habit sticks, James says you need to make it: Obvious, Attractive, Easy, and Satisfying. Let’s analyze how we made our fitness challenge fit all of these requirements:

Obvious – Everybody can claim their own challenge scorecard and write their name on it. There are giant whiteboards in both buildings with the scorecards taped to them. This giant group scorecard placement is too obvious to miss when you walk into the gym. It serves as a visual cue that reminds you to do your step-ups and/or sit-ups for the day. How are you arranging your home or office to faciliate the positive daily habits you want to acquire? Think about your fridge or pantry…is it OBVIOUS you’re trying to eat healthier foods? Make your positive habits smack you in the face (figuratively) to remind you to do them.

Attractive – This means you associate the habit with a positive feeling rather than a negative one. The first part that is attractive about this challenge is the cause. You can feel good knowing you’re bringing attention toward a worthy cause. Also, we have raffle prizes coming out, so that’s an added chance to win something. Lastly, we chose movements (step-ups and sit-ups) that are likable enough to be repeatable. If you’re struggling with a positive new habit, you may not see the good outweighing the bad. For example, not drinking will help my health, but will it harm my friendships? Get in tune with what matters to you.Warning: A lot of people think because they have a strong WHY, like working out for their kids, then there is no way they can fail. But even the strongest of “WHYS” don’t make a habit follow through if the structure is not there. You can be very passionate about suicide prevention, but passion will only take you so far. This is why your WHY is only one small piece of habit formation.

Easy – We must reduce the friction between us and our new habit. Friction is everywhere, keeping us from doing the things we know we should be doing. For our challenge, we have Ab Mats laid out every day for our members that are waiting to have a sit-up performed on them. Our coaches will grab a box out for you if the friction of getting one down is too tough. KNOW THIS—> FitTown Jupiter EXISTS to reduce the friction between YOU and YOUR WORKOUT. We make it as convenient, accessible, and hesitation free as possible. You “Just Show Up” as we like to say. You can also use friction to your advantage. Create friction between you and bad habits like phone/social media usage, or eating sweets/sugary foods. And intentionally lessen the friction towards the actions you know you should do and foods you should eat.

Satisfying – In most positive habits, the positive part comes way after the habit began. You have a big bank account decades after you started your saving habit. You lose 20 pounds after hundreds of workouts at your gym. One of the keys in habit creation is PULLING the POSITIVE FORWARD.What can we do NOW to give us a hit of dopamine? In this month’s challenge, crossing off circles on a scoresheet each day gives you that hit of “I did it dopamine.” “I did it dopamine” is powerful and should not be underestimated. This is why daily crosswords and challenges like Wordle take hold in people’s lives. The task of satisfaction is too good to pass up. You also have the added satisfaction of knowing you’re doing it for a good cause and you could possibly win prizes too. 

In April/May of this year we ran a similar challenge with the posted scoresheets and prizes called the FitTown50. It was 50 miles ran over the course of 50 days. We didn’t have a cause we performed the miles for, but it led up to Hero Workout “Murph”, which we did raise money for the “Believe With Me Foundation” benefitting Gold Star Families.The money raised was cool. It always is. But it was really cool to see how many people kept their running habit going AFTER the 50 miles and 50 days has ended. We had a running group start within our 5am class, who meet at 430am to run a mile before class. We are now 3 months removed from that FitTown50 running challenge yet the habit STICKS! The 5am run club is still going strong! How cool is that?

So next time we have an optional challenge like the FitTown50, or FitTown BINGO, or Step Up to End Suicide, join it for more than just the temporary challenge. Join it for the habit building it will form within you. 

There’s still time to take part in this month’s challenge of completing 988 Step Ups and 988 Sit Ups in the month. Grab a scorecard and let’s go! -Coach Tony