You can leave your sneakers next to your bed to get you to go out and run right when you wake up in the morning, but is that really going to do it for you? It might help on day one when you are hyped and ready to crush your new habit anyway. Maybe even on day two. Soon, where your sneakers await you in the morning will be irrelevant. You could hang them from the door frame, or wear them to bed the night before. If you’re a night owl, you’re running uphill against a strong headwind before you even sit up in bed.
Starting a new habit successfully involves integrating it into your life. Ending an old habit involves disentangling it from your life.
I may never be a morning runner, and that’s fine. Why? Because, ehem, I can run later in the day. Sorry to be so obvious. But, the point is, habits are connected to your biological rhythms.
I love running in the woods. I’m encouraged to run more these days because I live across the street from forest trails. If I run on a treadmill (not often) I want there to a mirror on the side or in the front. I’m much more likely to run on a treadmill at a hotel gym if there is a mirror.
Habits are connected to your physical environment. (Note: this is why the “nudge” of leaving your sneakers by the bed can help.)
I cannot run in the afternoon from 3 to 4. I have a meeting. Habits integrate with your calendar.
My brother is a runner. My mother was a runner. When I lived with them I was inspired to run simply because they ran. Your habits are effect by, and connected to the people around you.
Running great for me to think through new ideas. Running is a very welcome respite from screen time. Running feels good as my blood gets pumping. Habits are integrated with your mind and emotions.
Strangers hooted and hollered and honked and made fun of me when I went running in a Central Asian country where people don’t exercise in public. I kept going running there, but felt mildly discouraged. Habits are connected to culture.
Habits are biological, psychological, social, cultural, connected to our physical environment, and time. You may need to consider some or all of these when starting or stopping a habit.
If you want to quit smoking, sheer brute-force-cold-turkey-strenuous-exertion-every-day-non-stop may not be the thing that does it. If you are used to hanging out and smoking with friends every day at 3pm, you may need to consider another way of hanging out with your smoker friends at another time and place when they are not smoking—and elicit their support if possible!
Habits don’t exist in a vacuum. Integrate it into the rest of your life to start a good one. Disentangle and adjust to stop a bad one. The more thoroughly you do so, the more likely it is to stick.