Coupling and Willpower: Make Life Easy for Yourself

It’s a new year. People often set new resolutions at the beginning of January in an effort to do better. I have not done that this year. I am instead currently working on seasonal planning, which means that instead of planning a whole year in advance, I plan the year in 3-4 different sections. I just don’t know what life will be like and what I need to work on beyond the next few months.

In addition to seasonal planning, I’ve been trying to focus my goals on processes instead of to-do lists. Changing my processes gets a lot more done than just adding everything to my to-do list.

When I’m focused on improving my processes, that means I’m trying to make good habits for myself. But new habits aren’t formed by willpower alone.

Willpower works more as a muscle, not a choice. If I try to change all of my habits all at once, I’m going to burn out quickly because I don’t have the strength to do that.

So instead of changing my behavior by pure willpower, I need to change my environment.

If I want to wake up early, I have to set an alarm that automatically goes if. If I want to go to bed earlier, I have my computer shut off the internet before bed. If I have the couch facing the TV, I watch more TV. I change the couch to face the windows, and I have less desire to stare at a screen.

I can put fruit on the counter to eat more fruit. I can fill up my extremely large water bottle in the morning so that I drink more water. And if I buy less cereal, we eat less cereal.

Often, our bad habits and negative behaviors are coupled along with a certain environment. When my house gets really messy, I often get depressed. Those things come together. So if I want to keep myself from depression, then I clean my house.

If you have goals to change your behavior, look around at your environment first. What parts of your environment are coupled with negative behaviors? What parts are couple with positive behaviors?

Instead of focusing on the goal-setting of what you want to accomplish, you also have to build your life to make it really easy to accomplish your goals. Good behaviors don’t come from strong discipline–they come from good environments.

One thought on “Coupling and Willpower: Make Life Easy for Yourself

  1. This is so true. I had the thought one day that sometimes we are trying to “stop chewing gum” but the gum is still in our mouth. There is no way to stop chewing until we remove the “gum”.


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