Blake Snow

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Will power doesn’t work. To change habits, control your environment instead

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My wife and I were recently talking to our kids about changing habits.

I learned long ago that will power doesn’t work. Never has, never will (i.e. if talk is cheap, thoughts are even cheaper). To change our behavior, we must change our environment with specific goals that reinforce one another.

For example, if you want to lose weight, you need to consume a lot more water and eat less processed foods and desserts every day. Exercise alone doesn’t work. Stacking good habits does, however.

In January, I set a goal to stop swearing. Not because I think it’s immoral or not hilariously funny at times. But I suspected that profanity had a direct effect on my anger, an issue I still struggle with.

I was right.

After setting a specific goal to never cuss this year in any verbal or written communication, my anger is at an all time low. Not since I took an anger management class seven years ago have I felt this encouraged.

I still stumble, of course. So far this year, I stupidly threw two S-grenades at my wife while bickering with her. And I dropped an F-bomb on Alexa after she failed to understand a verbal command for the umpteenth time. How embarrassing is that.

Still, there’s no way I’m going back to swearing, at least until I get a full and complete handle on my anger, which I’m getting closer to.

I’m grateful humans can change habits with the help of specific, daily goals. But we must pair those goals with other environmental habits to build momentum and make a difference. You got this!

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