3 ways "Atomic Habits" can help you create more content
One of the most frequent questions I get is how to make time to do video consistently. You have great ideas and you know you need to be creating videos to grow your business, you just can’t get going.
It feels like the process from technology to messaging is just so overwhelming it keeps you from even starting. And then there’s so many daily distractions that make it really hard to get in the habit of creating content, much less recording a video.
That’s why I am going to focus on helping you implement what you’ve been learning here, to help you create content on a consistent basis.
I want to make sure you have skills and tools you need to be confident on video so you can grow your business, influence and authority.
In today's post we are going to talk about building the habits you need to develop to consistently create content that you can turn into videos.
In between seasons, one of the books I read was Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. The whole time I was reading it all I could think was, wow, I can’t wait to share this book with you!
There is so much wisdom about how we form habits and they determine the trajectory of our lives.
Our outcomes are lagging measures of our habits, whether it’s our finances, our waistline, or the state of our home or office. James says: "Good habits make time your ally, bad habits makes time you enemy."
He also says to forget about setting goals to get better results, focus on your systems instead. To reach your goals, you need to have the right systems in place to reach them. And if you think about constantly creating content, it really relies on having good systems in place.
Reading Atomic Habits also took that feeling away for me that in order to make a change in my life I’d have to go through the 66 days of will power and focus. It was a practical guide to looking at my habits and systems and where I could make improvements to reach my goals.
James offers some simpler and easier ways to build new habits to move toward the person you want to be and the life you want to live.
Please note, this is a SUPER abbreviated version of what he teaches in the book, and I highly recommend you give it a read to get the full benefit.
Today, I'm going to focus on three key takeaways I’d like you to think about when you start to feel overwhelmed with creating content or any other part of your business.
So if you’re ready, let’s dive in.
Takeaway #1- our habits, good or bad determine the trajectory of our lives and success
James says not to focus so much on the results you are getting right now, but the trajectory you’re on.
The series of behaviors and habits you consistently exhibit are more important the the goals you set and are a bigger determinant of where you will end up.
He suggest we ask ourselves: who do you want to become as a result of the way you are living your life everyday? Are you intentional about your financial, physical, spiritual habits?
If you are, then you are far more likely to be satisfied with where you are headed in life. If you’re not, then making some changes to your habits is in order.
And the good news is, while it requires discipline, it’s not impossible to create new habits.
James says: “The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.”
I love that. Think about it, if you focus on who you want to become, then looking at what you are doing everyday is a great way to evaluate what’s working and what changes you need to make to become that person.
You become your habits and every habit or action, decision informs who you are. Your success or lack of it in all areas of life all come from the daily actions you take and decisions you make.
James sums it up nicely: “Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.”
Takeaway #2 to make the changes you desire, you will need to figure out where your habits are getting in your way.
What is standing between who you are and who you want to become?
Whether it’s allowing yourself to be constantly distracted (our world is full of them) or you have tried to make changes and aren’t seeing the results you want, it’s good to understand what makes a habit, why they are hard to change and the easiest way to build a new one.
James defines a habit as a behavior you’ve repeated so many times, it’s become automatic. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a content creation habit that was automatic?
He says “changing our habits is challenging for two reasons: (1) we try to change the wrong thing and (2) we try to change our habits in the wrong way.”
That got my attention. What does trying to change the wrong thing mean? He says that we often focus on changing our goals thinking it will change us instead of looking at the systems we have in place in our lives.
For instance if your goal is to make a certain amount in a year or lose a certain amount of weight and you rely simply on will power to make it happen, there’s a good chance you’ll be in the same place you were when you started. And that’s super frustrating and can lead to a downward spiral of even worse performance.
He says it’s our systems that we need to change, not our goals. It’s the way we are set up to achieve our goals and the environment we live and work in that will make the difference.
If you change the systems that support your goals, you are more likely to reach the goals you set through the tiny habits you build into your daily life.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, I’m kind of a productivity nerd and I’m always looking for a more efficient way of getting things done. It was more the way James breaks down what habits are and how we have a lot more control over them than we may think.
So first, let’s look at what makes up a habit and then an easier way of creating a new one. That will start to help us improve the systems we have in place in our lives to achieve our goals and develop into the person we want to become.
We form habits so we can solve the day to day problems in life using as little energy and effort as possible. If you look at the anatomy of a habit, it’s basically a four step feedback loop. Cue, craving, response and reward.
First, there’s a cue, something that triggers the habit and signals your brain, which then creates a craving, That’s followed by a reaction (what you do in response to the craving) and your reward - what you get as a result of your response.
Remember, not all rewards are positive, but we are in the habit of reacting a certain way when we experience a cue, which creates a craving and a response.
This is where it gets hard for most of us, when we have to try and control our response to the cue and the craving.
Most of us get stuck at the response and reward phase when we are trying to break a bad habit or create a new one. And, if the environment we are in whether it’s at work or in our daily routine is full of cues, it can make it really hard to build new habits.
James suggest that instead of trying to break a bad habit that we replace it with better habits instead.
And you can do that if you understand and use the four laws of behavior change to make it happen.
The four laws are to make the new habit are make it obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying.
When I read that it made so much sense. When something is right in front of you, and it’s easy and attractive and you feel satisfied once you do it, why wouldn’t you?
I want you to think about a habit you’ve wanted to change because you know it will help you become the person you want to become or accomplish something that will move your forward in life.
Now, think about it through the Four Laws of Behavior Change.
Go ahead, take a minute and think about it and ask yourself four questions around the behavior you want to change. Ask yourself:
How can I make it obvious? I'll put it right where I’ll see it so I don’t forget.
How can I make it attractive? What will make me want to see or do it?
How can I make it easy? Is there a way so make it so easy it's like nothing to do it?
How can I make it satisfying? What will make it rewarding when I’m done?
If you know habits are nothing more than cue, craving, reaction and reward and you can intervene at the reaction and reward, how much simpler does that make understanding your habits?
Takeway #3 - the easiest way to change our bad habits is to create a new one and stack in on top of a good habit we already have.
James calls this habit stacking.
He says “If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”
“The habit stacking formula is: After (current habit) I will (new habit).” “The two most common cues are time and location of when and where the current habit and new habit will take place.”
For example, I’m working to increase the number of push ups I do every day. So my habit stack will be: after I walk at the beach, I will do 2 extra sets of pushups.
“Creating an implementation intention is a strategy you can use to pair a new habit with a specific time and location.”
Okay, so how does all of this help you be better at creating more content?
At the beginning of this post we talked about all the things that get in the way of you getting started.
Thinking about all the steps involved is likely overwhelming and you probably have a habitual way of responding when you are overwhelmed.
If you remember in episode 21 about using Mel Robbin’s 5 second rule, I talked about why we procrastinate - it’s a form of stress reduction. And if we think about doing something for more than five seconds we will hesitate and probably not move forward.
When we are overwhelmed we are stressed, procrastinating makes us feel better in the moment.
What if instead of the usual response, you tried a new habit stacked onto something you already do.
If you are already have a regular schedule for blogging or writing an article, build the habit of creating a video outline at the same time. You already have the content, you just need to adapt it for video. If you need some insight on how to do that, listen to episode 14 there’s a script template there you can download as well.
Stacking your new habit could look something like this:
After I write my blog Wednesday morning, I will write a video outline immediately afterwards.
Remember “The habit stacking formula is: After (current habit), I will (new habit).”
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, your environment plays a huge role in your habits. What are some obstacles in your environment getting in your way of creating your videos. Is it space? Time? Equipment? People who don't support you?
Identify what’s stopping you and be honest about it. Look for ways to build new habits that will help you move toward the person you want to become.
I’m not saying it will be easy, but nothing worth having is ever easy, is it?
And asking someone to support you and hold you accountable as you work to build your new habits toward becoming the person you want to be will help you when the craving to do things the old way becomes irresistible.
I’m happy to hold you accountable if you’d like me to, just send me an email and ask.
Summing it up
Success is the product of your daily habits, not a one time event. So creating content for your videos one time is not going to build the relationship or deliver the value you want to create for your audience.
Our habits are designed to make it easier to solve life problems without having to invest a lot of time and thought. Once you make creating video outlines a part of your content habit, you won’t have to think twice about it.
Our life is a reflection of our habits.
Your business will grow in proportion to your consistent good habits around creating content.
Instead of setting goals, think about the person you wish to become and develop habits to get you there.
Who is the person you want to become or you are becoming and how does this regular habit support that?
Habits are comprised of a four step feedback loop of cue, craving, reaction and reward.
Try habit stacking instead of trying to change a habit. Stack a new desired habit on top of something you already do regularly. By using the habit stacking formula: After (current habit) I will (new habit) you can build on areas where you are already successfully moving forward your goals or becoming the person you want to be.
What new habit can you stack on top of your content creation on to so you’re not starting from scratch and letting overwhelm keep you stuck?
Make sure it’s obvious, easy, attractive and rewarding.
Put yourself in the best possible environment for success, and the includes shutting off social media, forsaking your usual binge watch session, closing the door and asking a friend to keep you honest.
Look at this process from your strengths, what do you already do well, and how can that transfer to this new habit.
And remember, if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, just pick up where you left off and be kind to yourself.
New habits take time to develop and it’s part of your journey to becoming the person you want to be.
Remember, you have the power to create new habits to support the systems you need to consistently create content, every time.
Val Brown is an Emmy Award winning television producer, story, visual and personal brand consultant, coach, and speaker. She shows high performing business professionals and entrepreneurs the skills they need to be confident on video to grow their business, influence and authority. Learn more about how Val can help you.
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