What in the world is habit coupling, and if its so powerful why haven’t I heard about it? I am willing to bet that you are aware of it, but just didn’t know what to call it. The reason I want to talk about it is that three months ago my daily life was executed in a very different way than it is today. I know this, I understand this, and thus I have control over it. I want to share so that you, too, can use this information to take control of your life.
Three months ago I was training for triathlon 4-5 times per week. I was reading books, meditating, blogging I was doing some yoga, sleeping well, I had quit watching TV, and I was listing to a variety of podcasts. Fast forward to today. I am coaching and playing volleyball, watching the rest of the walking dead on Netflix, not doing yoga, or meditation. I am sleeping poorly and my podcasts are starting to pile up in the queue. Why? Habit coupling.
Habit coupling is all around us and we likely experience it everyday. How does it play into life? When are you most like to eat popcorn? While watching a movie. Your popcorn habit is tied to your movie habit. Other examples are people who smoke cigarettes when they drink alcohol. Maybe it’s coffee while you drive, or eating eggs in the morning. There are no rules that say eggs can only be consumed in the morning, or that you must eat popcorn while watching a movie, but it’s two habits that for most of us go with each other. Now I want you to think about the ones that apply to you, and how they affect you.
The easy way to justify this is that the time to coach volleyball had to come from somewhere and training was the easiest item to remove from my calendar right? Wrong. While it is a large time-commitment, I feel like it’s less the root of the change and more the effect of a smaller change. I believe that the change is in me watching television while I would normally listen to podcasts. While listening to podcasts I would exercise. While watching television I sit. While I exercise I enhance my body and feel good. While watching TV I eat foods that are not good for me which makes me feel terrible. Because I feel terrible I don’t sleep well, where I sleep so good when I exercise. This carries forward into the next day to my motivation to yoga and meditate, and continue training. Where when I sleep poorly, volleyball is the only thing that is fixed on my schedule and therefore the only thing that I feel I must do that day.
So is it that simple? Do I need to trade Zen and the Art of Triathlon for the Walking Dead? Tawnee Prazak for Rick Grimes? Dave Asprey and JJ Virgin for Glenn and Maggie? Dr Phil Maffetone for Daryl Dixon? Let me tell you that I am going to make the effort to put the zombie apocalypse on hold, and see if the podcasts I listen to will create a series of events tied together through habit coupling that will change my life back to where I want it to be.