The Catalyst of Change

Written by drtweedt

Any habit is a simple chemical reaction.  


Any new habit requires an activation energy.  This is the energy that you must put in the the activity to get it started.  For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds and you think about all of the effort involved in getting to your goal, the activation energy would be enormous.  We often look at the energy involved to accomplish the final product and out interest in starting the new habit quickly wanes.  This is seen every year when we make our new years resolutions.
If we extend our chemistry analogy, we can add a catalysts  to lower the activation energy required to start a new habit. This entails optimizing our environment to minimize the obstacles involved. In our fitness world, the energy of working out can seem insurmountable to most people.  You have to get up, get your clothes on, drive to the gym, put in the energy of the workout, clean up etc.  But, if you put your clothes by your bed in the morning, get dressed and workout in your house, the activation energy of the habit is minimal and your success rate increases dramatically.


Every habit has steps that we can either make easier to start our new habits or make more difficult to stop old habits.  When we want to stop destructive behaviors like snacking on junk food, we can eliminate the food from the pantry or at the minimum place it on the top shelf.  If you want to stop watching too much TV, place the remote on the top shelf or remove the batteries.  The ease at which behaviors are available alter our actions.  Certainly, the most clear example in the modern day is the time which we devote to our phones.  The phones are now on our bodies.  So, there is virtually no activation energy involved in picking it up.  Unfortunately this also means that we find ourselves wasting time looking at videos of cats playing the piano, for example.

So next time you think about a change, think in terms of a chemical reaction.  Adjust your catalyst and make your new habits successful.


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