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Don't Rely On Willpower, Do This Instead

“Oh! I had to buy groceries from the shop today… That will just need a lot of effort. Make a list of what to buy, dress up, go to the shop, and carry the groceries back home. Maybe I will do it tomorrow.”

Can you relate to the above narrative?

There are many instances in our life when we try to convince ourselves that we will get the job done “tomorrow”. And then we postpone the task the next day as well and the cycle goes on. And then one day we urgently need something and wish we had done it earlier.

Well, it is not your fault (entirely). There is a scientific reason behind why we generally postpone things we need to do instead of doing them immediately. 

Research conducted by the University College London identified that we usually tend to prefer doing easier tasks and the more complicated a task is, or the more effort it takes, we tend to avoid it.

We can observe the same thing in our day-to-day behaviour patterns. It is difficult to go to the store and stand in line and then purchase goods for yourself. This is why many people prefer online shopping. Many delivery apps reduce the efforts for consumers where they can get groceries delivered to their doorstep with just a few clicks! Among many other things that make this so appealing, one important factor is the ease of doing these transactions.

This is just an example that our brain likes and prefers easy stuff. We try to fight laziness by trying to rely on our willpower. We tend to believe that by developing a strong will to do something, we will face no difficulty fighting off the temptation and doing the right thing. But this rarely happens.

How can we train ourselves to be less lazy and take action?

There is a smart way to deal with this. To make it more likely that our brain will choose the “healthy” alternative, we need to make the healthy alternative easy to apply. 

To give a simple example, if you find yourself spending too much time on the phone before sleeping, keep your phone in another room and keep a book beside your bed table. This will make it easier to just pick up and read the book before sleeping instead of walking off to another room to get the phone. 

The easiest way to form healthy habits is by removing obstacles from your path toward that habit. Here are a few ways you can do that -

To improve physical fitness -

  • Keep healthy snacks accessible. Keep them where they will be easily visible. Hide away all the unhealthy snacks. As they say “out of sight, out of mind.”
  • Keep your running shoes beside your bed, if that’s the first thing you want to do in the morning. 

To improve mental fitness -

  • Make it a habit to keep your phone away from you and keep a book easily available. Do not keep the books locked in some bookshelf, keep them near your usual place to sit and relax.
  • Have timely reminders on your phone to do one-minute meditation. It could be for 6-7 times a day. You can slowly increase the pace.

These are just a few ways of making the healthy option easier. Which healthy habit would you make easier to apply?