Harnessing the Power of Laziness
Our brains are lazy. In fact, studies show about 40% of our actions are not conscious decisions but habits – the effects of our brains seeking to conserve energy by shifting into auto pilot anything we do routinely.
What if we could tap into our brains’ laziness to create habits that will lead to us enjoying the success we desire?
Good news, we can. Creating a habit involves only three things: Time, Replace and Repeat.
We’ve all heard it takes 21 days to create a new habit. That's wrong.
Multiple studies show it takes an average of 66 days before a new habit takes root in our brains, meaning change doesn’t happen overnight or even in a few weeks. So, when creating a new habit, it’s critical to set realistic expectations about how long it will take before the new habit feels, for lack of a better term, natural.
Another fun fact about habits is that they never truly disappear; they are just overpowered by other habits. A smoker wishing to quit by committing to an exercise program or a player desiring a higher successful free throw shot percentage establishing and regularly executing a free throw routine. These are simple examples of repeatedly replacing an old habit to create a new one that results in the desired outcome.
How does this apply to work?
Say you’ve been put in charge of leading an enterprise-wide change to a new app. At its most fundamental level, your goal is to encourage numerous teammates to create new habits, i.e., adopt the new technology. This can be a tall order.
Sadly, we’ve all seen initiatives like this fail. Maybe insufficient training/communication was provided, or not enough time was allotted to adjust to the new tech, or users were allowed to use the old system in tandem, etc. Using Time, Replace and Repeat would have likely made a significant difference. Transitioning to the new and away from the old while encouraging frequent use of the new tech for several weeks fosters habit formation amongst our teammates. These new, widespread habits culminate in user adoption and a successful launch.
These are a few examples, but there are countless successes awaiting our ability to tap into our brains' predisposition for laziness. Next time you are contemplating a goal, consider which new habits are needed to cross the finish line, then employ the triad of habit formation to get there.
Give it a try - even using this new process of creating a new habit is, well, a habit. :-)