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  • In his book, "The Happiness Advantage", happiness researcher Shawn Achor discussed how he wanted to make practicing guitar a daily habit.

  • However, he encountered a problem that plagues everyone: He couldn’t motivate himself to do it.

  • No matter how much he tried, his guitar remained in the case.

  • Achor’s problem is a common one:

  • If you want to change a habit in the long-term, in the beginning, you have to rely on willpower.

  • But willpower is a finite resource and can’t be relied on.

  • In other words, the more decisions you make on a daily basis, the more likely you are to experience what psychologists call "decision fatigue".

  • Once you experience decision fatigue, improving habitsespecially at the end of a stressful daybecomes less of a priority.

  • Habitual, negative behaviors, like watching television instead of going to the gym, become routine.

  • Given a choice, we almost always go with the disempowering habits instead of the habits that are good for us.

  • They offer us a path of less resistance and become the easier choice.

  • But what if you had a tool to reshape that path entirely?

  • A tool that made positive habits more accessible.

  • In Achor’s example, he realized that having to remove his guitar from the closet increased the effort he needed to start practicingeven if that effort only cost him an extra 20 seconds.

  • Those 20 seconds meant the difference between doing his habit and not.

  • He came to a resolution: Put his guitar in the center of his apartment.

  • The results?

  • He practiced guitar for 21 days straight without exception.

  • Achor called this the 20 Second Rule.

  • He says, "Lowering the barrier by just 20 seconds was all it took to help me form a new habit."

  • The 20 Second Rule not only can be used to build new empowering habits, but it can be used to ease the transition between negative and positive ones as well.

  • Achor’s next experiment was to replace watching television when he returned home from work with reading and writing his book.

  • This time, he took the batteries out of the remote and moved themyou guessed it—20 seconds away.

  • Here are his findings:

  • The next few nights when I got home from work, I plopped down on the couch and pressed the "on" button on the remote, usually repeatedly, forgetting that I had moved the batteries.

  • Then, frustrated, I thought to myself, "I hate that I do these experiments."

  • But sure enough, the energy and effort required to retrieve the batteriesor even walk across the room and turn the TV on manuallywas enough to do the trick.

  • There are multiple ways you can experiment with the 20 Second Rule.

  • Just remember, as a rule of thumb:

  • You need to decrease the activation energy you need to do positive habits and increase it to do negative [habits].

  • If you want to replace a bad habit like drinking alcohol after work, consider moving your pint glasses to another room or leaving alcohol that’s best served chilled unrefrigerated.

  • No one wants to drink a beer or white wine that hasn’t been chilled.

  • If you’d like to minimize the number of hours you spend online, delete the social media apps on your smartphone.

  • The extra effort needed to go to the app store, download the app, and enter your account details will help with fighting this habit.

  • If you want to eat more healthy, consider doing a weekly grocery shop for the whole week.

  • Prepare your lunch and dinner meals in advance, so when you are hungry, the extra effort needed to go and buy something new will help you pick the already prepared healthy food.

  • If you want to make brushing or flossing your teeth a habit, put your toothbrush right next to your bed so you can just grab it and start brushing your teeth.

  • It's easier to start brushing your teeth and then go to the bathroom than to first go to the bathroom and start it there.

  • If you liked the video, leave a like and comment below: How would you apply the 20 second rule and to what habit?

  • Anyway, don't forget to subscribe and thanks for watching!

In his book, "The Happiness Advantage", happiness researcher Shawn Achor discussed how he wanted to make practicing guitar a daily habit.

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