Lesson 10: The Role of Family and Friends in Shaping Habits

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Welcome to the fourth and final week of 30 Days to Better Habits. My primary goal this week is to give you the tools you need to keep your habits for the long term.

A key driver of habits and behaviour change is the social environment, and we discuss it in this lesson.

Social environment shapes our behaviours through the groups we belong to and the tribes we belong to.

All of us belong to more than one tribe. Our behaviour is shaped by the tribes we belong to.

This is true in large and small ways. Business, religion, and nations are large tribes that can influence our behaviour. Your behaviour can also be influenced by small tribes like your neighbourhood, school, or organization.

Our sense of belonging to any of these tribes is a key characteristic. When you want to belong to a tribe, you want to repeat the habits of that tribe. Our habits are influenced by what we see around us.

Perhaps you will start gardening or landscaping your lawn if you move to a neighbourhood where your neighbours consistently maintain their lawns.

It is very likely that if you attend CrossFit classes where everyone eats Paleo, you will also do the same.

Culture sets your expectations of what is “normal.” Surround yourself with people who have habits you would like to have. Together, you’ll rise.

Mike Massimino, an astronaut, is a perfect example of this philosophy. He took a small robotics class at MIT. Four of the ten students in the class became astronauts. The best place to be if the goal was to make it into space would be that room. As a result, the “normal” level of performance in that room was much higher than the average. There are many habits that Massimino picked up as an astronaut that he probably wasn’t even aware of.

Regardless of what habits you wish to build, you can use this strategy. Getting into a group where your desired behaviour is normal is the crucial step.

When you see others doing them every day, you seem to be able to adopt new habits. Having readers around you will make you more likely to consider reading as a common habit. People who are surrounded by recyclers are more likely to recycle themselves. When your child surrounds himself or herself with friends who study and get good grades, he or she will likely develop similar habits.

Whenever I’m discouraged in my home office while I’m working, I immediately think of ways to move on from the situation. You’ll find me pulling out my phone, surfing the web, or heading to the kitchen. However, sometimes I call another trainer friend and we work together for a few hours. Consequently, I get three times more done than I do by myself, since I don’t want to be that lazy person who stops working after a few minutes.

It is much easier to meditate with someone else, according to my friends who meditate. When meditating alone, it is easy to give up when your mind wanders. Even though you had intended to meditate for ten minutes, you’ve only done seven, so whatever. If you’re meditating with a friend and seven minutes have passed, well, you don’t want to be the first person to give up. You’ll sit there the whole time.

Belonging to a tribe is the best way to sustain motivation. It transforms a personal quest into a collective one. You were previously on your own. Your identity was singular. You are a reader. You are a musician. You are an athlete.

If you join a book club, a band, or a cycling group, your identity becomes tied to those around you. Growing and changing is no longer confined to an individual. We are readers. We are musicians. We are cyclists.

You begin to strengthen your identity as a result of the shared identity. In order to maintain your habits, it is important to remain part of a group after you have achieved a goal. Long-term behaviours are embedded in new identities and strengthened by a sense of community.

That’s all for Lesson 10. See you in the next lesson,

Vikaas Kausshik

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Helpful bonuses and downloads

  •  30 days to better habits workbook – This 20-page PDF includes an action checklist (including templates for key strategies) for each lesson of the course, plus lesson summaries and a key terms dictionary.
  • 30 days to better habits examples – The examples database is a Excel Sheet of 100+ examples of how to implement each strategy covered in this bootcamp for dozens of different habits.