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Training Useful Habits

October 20th, 2013
training, habits

Habits are a powerful way to invest willpower. You put in a medium amount of effort to create one, a small amount to maintain it, and then you benefit continually. For example, I built myself a habit where at lunch at work after filling my plate with what I want to eat I put vegetables on top. Before this I didn't eat vegetables often but knew I ought to. Occasionally I would get myself to eat some, but I didn't have the willpower on an ongoing basis to do this significantly. Now that I have the habit trained up, however, it takes me nearly no effort to follow it. It's just what I do now.

Other habits I've trained:

When I'm considering making an exception to a habit, I think about it not in terms of the downside of failing to do it just this once (which is of course small) but the downside of not doing it in all future cases where I have an excuse at least this strong. This downside usually is large enough that I just keep up the habit.

(I also have other less interesting habits, like charging my phone, putting my wallet in my pocket, and brushing my teeth.)

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