Lesson 7: Two Strategies to Combat Fading Motivation

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Welcome to Week 3. At this point in the course, you know the identity you’re trying to build and have an implementation intention for including this small habit into your daily routine. A few changes to your environment design may have also helped nudge things along.

You should have practiced your habit at least 5-10 times by this point.

There’s a possibility that what we’ve covered so far is all you need to create a new habit. If so, that’s fine. Getting results is the whole point of this course. A working system is a working system. We don’t have to complicate things more than we have to.

However, you may have noticed how you were motivated to start your habit, but have since fallen off course and failed to complete it on more than a couple occasions.

The decline in motivation is something that everyone goes through occasionally. There are many situations in life in which we assume that putting forth a little bit of effort will result in a little bit of success. It is only natural, then, to think that if we’re trying our best and putting in a lot of effort, we would get a lot of results.

However, habits don’t work like this. The relationship between habits and achievement is more of a compound growth curve than a linear relationship. The best returns are delayed. I refer to this gap between what we expect and what we experience as the “plateau of latent potential.”

In any journey toward improvement, there will be a plateau. It’s exhausting putting in work every day, but you feel stuck in the valley of death. Potential is accumulating, but it hasn’t yet been released. There seems to be no reward for all the effort. As you wait for long-term benefits, it can be frustrating, so you need something to keep you focused.

I’d like to share two strategies you can employ to stick with a habit when your motivation begins to fade.

The first is called “temptation bundling.”

Temptation bundling works by linking a desire to do something with a need to do something. When you can do something you love while changing/building a habit/behavior, you’ll be more likely to find it attractive.

Watching your favorite TV show may sound appealing, but you have to fold some laundry. If temptation bundling was used, you could only watch that show at the time you are folding laundry.

These strategies are difficult to implement for some people, of course. It’s a lot easier to skip the “need to do” and jump straight to the “want to do” when you know you can watch a show without folding the laundry. Taking advantage of temptation bundling is another way to enjoy your process rather than only allowing yourself to enjoy certain things at certain times.

It may be tempting to indulge in a couple of pieces of your favorite candy, but you need to finish your book manuscript first. It’s simple: only let yourself eat candy when you’re working on the book.

It may be that you and your friend want to chat and gossip, but both of you need to get in shape. With temptation bundling, you could plan gym dates or park dates with your friend so you can talk and get in shape together. Keep your chats to when you’re out walking.

It may seem like reading romance novels is more fun than meal preparation. Audible provides a solution that lets you listen to books while you prepare nutritious meals for the week.

So, even if you aren’t crazy about folding laundry, toiling away at your book, working out, or meal prepping, you will get conditioned to do it if it means you get to do something you want to along the way.

To utilize this strategy for yourself, you can use this formula:

“I will only [HABIT I WANT TO DO] when I [HABIT I NEED TO DO].”

Let’s look at some examples.

  • I will only get a pedicure when I am processing overdue work emails.
  • I will only eat my favorite snack when I’m studying French.
  • I will only visit my favorite coffee shop when I’m making my budget for the next week.

A second strategy to increase motivation is called a “commitment device.”

A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that “locks in” your actions in the future.

Some exercise classes, for example, enforce a strict cancellation policy within 10 hours prior to class time. By signing up for the class, the gym creates a commitment device: it locks in future action.

There are many ways to create a commitment device in your own life.

  • Use a website blocker to lock you out of distracting websites. Or, delete distracting apps off your phone.
  • When you go to the doctor or dentist, always schedule your next appointment before you leave. Now it’s on your calendar.
  • Leave your phone at home when you’re going to an important meeting or going to catch up with a friend or loved one so it can’t distract you.
  • Host a monthly book club or “wine night” with friends so you’re forced to tidy up your home each month.
  • Use an automated savings program that takes money from your paycheck and moves it to a separate account every month.

In a well-structured commitment device, you have to do more work to get out of a good habit than to start one.

It is possible for you to get over the hump and develop a habit that lasts using temptation bundling and commitment devices.

That’s all for Lesson 7. See you in the next lesson,

Vikaas Kausshik

p.s. If you want to tell a friend about 30 Days to Better Habits, you can use the sharing links below, or just copy and paste this URL to send to them: 30 Days to Better Habits

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.