Forming A Habit

Ever Tried to develop a healthy habit and failed to do so? Made a ton of resolutions on new years eve, but never saw it through till the first weekend?

James Clear, in his revolutionary book, Atomic Habits explores the possibilities which lead to failure of developing habits.

If you’ve failed to adopt a healthy or productive habit you either failed to make your new behaviour obvious, easy, attractive, or satisfying.

The Four Laws of Behaviour Change

These are what James calls ‘The Four Laws of Behaviour Change’. Failing to abide by any one of these laws means you’ll fail to adopt a new behaviour.
1. Don’t have an obvious daily cue to exercise? You’ll forget about your new healthy habit and stick to your old daily routine.
2. Don’t have an easy exercise routine? You’ll perform an easy and familiar routine instead (like watching TV).
3. Don’t find exercise appealing (i.e. exercise isn’t attractive)? You’ll resist exercise enough to avoid doing it consistently.
4. Don’t get immediate satisfaction after exercise? You’ll lack the motivation to exercise it consistently.

Next time when you want to form a habit, try designing these four qualities into your habit, so that it sticks on.

As I wanted to lose weight and stay healthy, I planned running 5 Miles a day. adapting the four rules mentioned above, I designed my running habit.

My Obvious Daily cue was, I kept my alarm clock, all the way in the shoe rack in the living room. So that when I wake up to switch off my alarm, I would make it obvious that I had to go for my routine jogging. To make the jogging Easy, I started to run a insignificant 1 Mile a day for the first week. and then build up on the momentum to reach my goal of 5 Miles by end of 2 Months. To make my habit Appealing, I photo-shopped a picture of myself, looking 20 pounds lighter and put it on my wardrobe. Everyday before heading off to jog, I would look at that picture, and get inspired, knowing why I am doing this. And for an entire month, I restricted myself from watching my favourite TV Shows, on the days I did not run. So I always had the Satisfaction of watching TV if I complete my 5 mile mark. The routine has worked pretty well, and except for few odd days, I have been running 5 miles every day for past couple of months.

Stacking & Starting

You’ve probably used ‘habit stacking’ to build new hygiene habits without realizing it. As a child, you stacked the habit of washing your hands with the habit of having dinner. Washing your hand became the cue for your dinner habit.
Habit stacking involves using an old and reliable daily habit as the trigger for a new habit. When you stack a new habit on an existing habit, you use the momentum of the old habit to make the new habit easier to initiate. I think of it as riding a bike down a hill to build up enough speed to get up the next hill with minimal
peddling.

But if the hill of your new habit is too daunting, the momentum of the old habit won’t be enough. That’s why you need to reduce your new habit to an easy two‐minute ‘starting ritual’.


“Even when you know you should start small, it’s easy to start too big. When you dream about making a change, excitement inevitably takes over and you end up trying to do too much too soon. The most effective way I know to counteract this tendency is to use the Two‐Minute Rule, which states, ‘When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.’”

James Clear


“Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
“Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat.”
“Fold the laundry” becomes “Fold one pair of socks.”
“Run five miles” becomes “Tie my running shoes.”

Syncing & Scoring


Ronan Byrne, an electrical engineering student in Dublin, Ireland knew that he should exercise more, so he used his engineering skills to synchronise his stationary bike with his laptop. He wrote a program on his laptop to play his favourite Netflix shows on the TV in front of the stationary bike when he cycled at a
certain speed. If he slowed down, Netflix would pause, and he’d need to cycle harder to finish the episode he was watching. Imagine, binge‐watching Netflix meant burning calories!!

Like Byrne, if you only allow yourself to enjoy your favourite experiences while executing a healthy and productive new habit, you’ll find the new habit is something you look forward to doing.

When you synchronise an experience you crave with a new habit you dread doing, the craving will counteract the resistance to executing the new habit and allow you to get started.
Synchronising is a great tool for building a new habit, but to make a habit stick the habit must become inherently satisfying. And to make a habit inherently satisfying you must keep score.

Imagine on June 30th you look at your Google Fit journal and see see 27 Green Heart marks, on 27 of the last 30 days. Each mark represents a successful workout. That journal is a visual proof that you are someone who cares about their health. You should take pride in that fact!
If you take time to score the completion of a habit in a habit tracker (ex: calendar on your wall, app on your phone, or physical habit
tracking notebook), you’ll start to see a pattern of behaviour that proves you’re becoming the type of person you’ve dreamed of being. The immediate pride you experience after using a habit tracker provides the satisfaction you need to return to the habit over and over until the habit sticks.

Happy Habitting!!

Learning Through Movies

Now that we are in the lockdown and struck at home, what’s the one thing we all are doing?? Don’t tell me its doing the dishes and mopping the floor!!! Anyways, atleast as per Google, its Binge Watching! There is a significant increase in the viewership of content streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not going to lecture you here on how binge watching can be counterproductive, you should read a book instead, learn something new blah blah… When life throws lock down at you, you binge watch!!

But why not watch which is fun, as well as leaves you with something after you have finished watching? There is a up and coming concept of self-development called “Learning thru movies”. Here, a coach or a PD teacher engages the audience with a movie instead of the typical lecture. He or she typically plays the movie, pausing wherever necessary to dig deeper into understanding the concepts behind that scene.  Visual learning is one of the powerful methods to retain the concepts learnt. Also, there is the added advantage of learning by association, where the students associate themselves with the character of the movie as the plot unveils. I have tried this technique in a couple of classes and have witnessed wonderful results. So, here are some movies you can watch and learn something from it while you have fun. And, since I am going to explore some of the plots, here is your spoiler alert!!! 

1. THE REVENANT

Equal parts revenge saga and survival story, The Revenant was inspired by the frontier tale of Hugh Glass, who in 1823, against all odds, endured a mauling by a grizzly and abandonment to his fate by his fellow fur trappers. The Revenant teaches us resilience, persistence and the importance of “Hope” in our lives. Leonardo DiCaprio`s Oscar Winning performance is cheery on the top.

2. THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

Gardner, played by Will Smith, endures homelessness with his young son, with grit and determination. The Pursuit of Happyness teaches us You can’t let people discourage you from your dreams. It’s okay if people don’t believe in your dream as long as you believe in it yourself. We can also learn that there should never be any excuse not to try. And its never too late to start something new. Acting of both the Smith`s is heart touching.

3. KUNG FU PANDA SERIES

Ok, hold on. Don’t dismiss It yet as an animated kids’ movie. I bet you can’t stop watching the 2nd and 3rd movies in this trilogy once you complete the first one. The movie imparts lessons about continuously challenging oneself to be better and the importance of having good mentors. And there are no accidents in life. There’s no Bigger Pain than not Doing Something You Love. Everyone has their unique form of motivation. Its who decides how your story ends.

Ok, hold on. Don’t dismiss It yet as an animated kids’ movie. I bet you can’t stop watching the 2nd and 3rd movies in this trilogy once you complete the first one. The movie imparts lessons about continuously challenging oneself to be better and the importance of having good mentors. And there are no accidents in life. There’s no Bigger Pain than not Doing Something You Love. Everyone has their unique form of motivation. Its who decides how your story ends.

4. ROCKY SERIES

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for most of your life, I’m sure you are familiar with the name Rocky Balboa. Played by Hollywood action legend Sylvester Stallone, Rocky was the title character of six boxing drama films that chronicled his rise from an unknown battler to the heavyweight champion of the world. In each successive film, Rocky was confronted with various life crises, ever-stronger opponents, and his own aging body. Throughout the series, Rocky came to define the perennial underdog, continually drawing strength from the struggles he faced to overcome the odds and succeed. Rocky teaches us to never quit. Being down doesn’t necessarily mean you are out. You make your own destiny.  One of the best series to binge watch. 

5. The Shawshank Redemption         

The Shawshank Redemption is based on a short story written by Steven King and directed by Frank Darabont. The movie portrays the bond being shared between two men during the years of their imprisonment who share emotions and find solace in each other, ultimately paving their way to salvation. The movie also shows how to maintain one’s self significance in the most disintegrated and hopeless place. It leaves us with “PERSISTENCE AND PERSEVERANCE ARE KEY TO SUCCESS”.  Keep your mind occupied when you are going thru difficult times. I agree the beginning of the movie may be a little depressing. But trust me. Sit through and you are up for a wonderful thriller.

6. 12 Angry Men

With a small cast of 20+ people, shot in a single room, black and white, still 12 Angry Men never stops to amaze me even today. 12 Angry Men chronicles the murder trial of an 18-year old boy from a slum, charged with stabbing his father to death. It is about a jury of 12 different individuals from distinct backgrounds; given the task of deciding unanimous whether the boy is guilty or not. Considered one of the best movies, it teaches us the skills of influencing, handling a team, understanding group dynamics, Negotiation, Risk taking, Sticking to your gut, Importance of Communication. Its nothing short of a quick MBA course.

7. Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump had a below average IQ of 75, yet he he still managed to teach Elvis how to dance, receive a football scholarship from the University of Alabama, be named to the All-American team, meet John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, receive the medal of honor for his heroism in Vietnam, play in ping pong diplomacy against Chinese teams, have an interview on the Dick Cavett show with John Lennon, meet President Nixon and expose the Watergate Scandal, create the extremely successful Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, invest in Apple computers thereby becoming a millionaire, run across the U.S. just because he felt like it, and in the end became an awesome father. He teaches us to be authentic, Don’t let others to turn you down, channel the pain into something productive, don’t be afraid of being honest, Dedication will take you places, so do what you love.

8. Cast Away

Cast Away is a dramatic story of an ordinary man facing an extraordinary situation. Tom Hanks, playing as a FedEx delivery supervisor, whose plane unfortunately crashes into the ocean. He is in an isolated island as the sole survivor of the terrible crash. There he lives a solitary life full of uncertainties and depression. He tries to cope with new environment with his wit and feeble camping skills. As a survivor, Tom Hanks attempts every strategy possible to live on the island. The thought of reuniting with his family becomes his reason to live. The movie celebrates the rediscovery of life’s simple joys as it features Tom Hanks’ struggle with the natural environment. It also signifies the importance of hope and persistence. (Additional Watching; The Terminal, movie with a similar theme)

9. Catch Me if You Can

Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) worked as a doctor, a lawyer, and as a co-pilot for a major airline — all before his 18th birthday. A master of deception, he was also a brilliant forger, whose skill gave him his first real claim to fame: At the age of 17, Frank Abagnale, Jr. became the most successful bank robber in the history of the U.S. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) makes it his prime mission to capture Frank and bring him to justice, but Frank is always one step ahead of him. No matter if you associate yourself with Frank for his resourcefulness or with Carl for his persistence, they both teach you so many life lessons. Confidence is the key to success, experience is never a match for your skills, don’t fear the unknown, Never give up!!