At this point we have all heard of the benefits of developing a meditation practice: reduces stress, improves immune health, improves concentration…the list goes on. I heard about meditation from a Tim Ferriss podcast back in 2015 that piqued my interest. Since then my relationship with meditation has been on and off; something I couldn’t quite get to prioritize in my daily routine like other habits….until recently.
Using three main psychological tools I’ve been able to stick with it over the last 6 months. These tools will prove useful for meditation, or any other habit you are trying to get to stick! Let’s get into it.
Understand The Availability Bias.
Now what is the availability bias? Here is what Wikipedia has to say:
“The availability heuristic, also known as availability bias, is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. The availability heuristic operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled. Subsequently, under the availability heuristic, people tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information, making new opinions biased toward that latest news.”
I first learned about this concept from Daniel Khaneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow which brings to light many heuristics; I have found the availability heuristic to be one of the most practical in my day to day life.
How can one make this practical? “People tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information.” For me, if I am reading a book on personal finance – I am way more likely to be thinking about this throughout my day. If I am studying more Jiu-Jitsu videos I will be more inclined to make sure I prioritize getting to practice. Same goes for meditation or mindfulness.
To leverage the availability heuristic, make an effort to read about or listen to people talking about the topic you are trying to build a habit on.
Keep a Compelling Scorecard
What gets measured gets managed. If I know I want an average of three meditations per week I will take a look at how many weeks are in the quarter when doing my quarterly goal setting and set a cumulative goal for the quarter (for a 12 week quarter, set a cumulative goal of 36 meditations). This I have found to be way more effective than the goal of “meditate 3 times per week”, because if I miss one week the goal has been missed. However, with a cumulative goal if I miss one session the week prior I can pick up the slack the next week.
So now that the goal is set, have it written down somewhere – and keep track as you move closer to the goal. I like using an index card for my quarterly goals which I make the background of my phone.
To keep a compelling scorecard, have a visible place to track progress.
Daily Goal Setting
Two weeks ago I wrote about how keeping a journal can improve consistency. If I have a compelling scorecard and I know what goals I have set for the quarter – the next step is to pull out the journal each morning and ask myself “what am I going to do to move closer towards my goals today”? Make a quick list. I don’t always hit everything on there, but I am more likely to move closer to my goals if it is written down somewhere.
Write down each morning what you plan on doing to move towards your long term goals.
The picture is from the super simple, and free app I use, Oak, to track my seated time.