Table of Contents

  1. Summary of what I learned from two podcast episodes
  2. How I applied this in my life

OT: build habits by tying them to your existing routine, or how I tricked myself into doing more pushups


March 30, 2022

This is my first post with the ‘OT’ prefix, meaning ‘off-topic’. Usually, I write more technical posts - related to programming, the command line, Linux, and technology overall. So, off-topic posts will be ones that discuss things unrelated (mostly) to technology. They might be about random thoughts, philosophy, tips…basically anything I think is worth sharing with the public.

In this post, I discuss habit-forming and a specific ‘trick’ that’s helped me remember habits: binding the desired action to an action that I already do regularly. Read on for more details, and a discussion of how this has helped me.

Summary of what I learned from two podcast episodes

I got inspired after I listened to two episodes of the Art of Manliness podcast: “A Proven System for Building and Breaking Habits” and “The Tiny Habits That Change Everything”. Firstly, I recommend you listen to them yourselves, they’re very illuminating (and also the whole AOM website as well as podcast are fantastic resources; I’m not connected to them in any way, I’m just a regular listener/reader and I’ve found lots of value in their podcasts and articles).

My key takeaways from these two episodes were:

So in summary, to create a new habit, pick a behavior that’s easy or more difficult to do depending on your level of motivation, and pick an action that’s part of your daily routine to serve as the prompt for the behavior.

How I applied this in my life

To me, the discussion of using something in your existing routine as a prompt for a new behavior seemed like a fantastic idea. So I figured I’d give it a try.

I decided to also create a push-up habit, because I get enough cardio and lower body exercise when I bike for transportation, but I need some strength training. I went with 30 push-ups every time, because that’s a number that’s not too difficult and not too easy for me.

Reflecting on the three parts that Fogg described:

So that translates to the behavior: every time I go upstairs, I do 30 push-ups.

And after about three weeks of this, I have to say it has worked remarkably well. I probably do 90-120 push-ups a day, while before I would maybe do 30 on a good day. So, if there’s a new habit that you’d like to start, consider giving this method a try.