Lesson 6: Prime Your Environment to Make Future Habits Easy

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There are times when clients ask me if it is better to focus on one habit at a time or to build multiple habits. In my experience, the best answer is to focus on one habit at a time. This has the added benefit of addressing an aspect of habit formation that is often overlooked: when you build one habit, often you build multiple habits with it.

Take the habit of eating healthier. This process involves a variety of habits. It is necessary to build habits of going to the grocery store and shopping for new items, of meal planning and deciding what to eat each week, of chopping and prepping food, of cleaning up after meals, and so on. Eating a healthy meal is actually the easiest part. It is often the preparation that causes you to give up.

It applies to many habits, not just eating healthy. If you walk into an environment that has been prepared for the habit, you increase the likelihood that it will be performed.

Creating an environment that favors the habit you’re trying to build is what I call “priming the environment.”

Environment design, as we discussed in Lesson 4, makes the cues of good habits more obvious. As discussed in Lesson 5, reducing friction makes performing habits easier in the moment.

Priming your environment adds yet another layer: it makes your future habits easier.

Here are some examples:

  • Want to meditate more? Set up a comfortable, quiet place in your home where you practice meditation.
  • Want to encourage your children to read more? Help them make a reading nook in their bedroom with some comfy pillows and plenty of age-appropriate reading material.
  • Want to paint more? Set up your easel, paints, and brushes beforehand so you can walk in and get straight to work.
  • Want to sleep better and develop a wind-down routine? Move your phone charger out of the bedroom and place your favorite candle, light soft music and a couple of books on your nightstand.

When you organize a space, you are priming it to make your future actions easier. Your environment is now ready for immediate use the next time around.

The same strategy applies to behavior change, whether we are individuals, parents, coaches, or leaders: “How can we design a world where it is easy to do the right thing?” “Is there a way to prime our environment so that future habits are easier?”

Ideally, the actions that matter most should also be the actions that are easiest to do.

Week 2 Summary

  • If you want to make a habit a big part of your life, you need to make the cue a big part of your environment.
  • The less friction associated with a habit, the more likely it is to occur. Create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. You want to make your good habits the path of least resistance.
  • One way to increase the odds that your habits will be performed is to walk into an environment that is ready for the habit. Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make your future actions easy.

Week 2 Progress Check-In

  • It is now the end of the second week. At this point, you have a two-minute habit, a clear plan for where and when to add that habit into your life, and a series of small environmental changes that make it easier to stick to your habit each day.

That’s all for Lesson 6. 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.