Forming new habits isn’t about having the willpower to do things that you hate. It’s about focusing on the positive outcomes, and training your brain to want more of that feeling.
Habits are built early. One of the most phenomenal habits to the human race is potty training. By age five or six, most of us are completely disgusted at the very idea of urinating or defecating on ourselves, or having our waste remain in contact with our bodies. We are literally trained to control various muscles groups until we are in an area that we have been socialized is appropriate to use relieve ourselves. Most of us can do this thoughtlessly by the time we reach our teens, often putting off going to the bathroom long after the urge has hit. It’s not because we like the feeling of holding it in; we absolutely hate that feeling. But that feeling is temporary, and we all know that as well. What we do love, what we have trained our brains to come to expect, is being able to use the bathroom with privacy being able to wipe or wash ourselves afterward, and the feeling of having dry, fresh-smelling clothes and underwear throughout the day.
Similar to a child first being potty-trained, who initially resists, but comes to love the independence of not having to wear a diaper, many people go into habit development, hating this new habit every step of the way. But like that child, we can take on new tasks one day at a time. Stop thinking long-term; just focus on how good it feels to get things done right now. Hold on to that good feeling. Try again tomorrow. Rinse, repeat. Soon enough, you’ll be hooked on that good feeling. You will crave it, and not participating in this productive new habit will be the thing that requires willpower. Think about it: If you had to go to the bathroom while sitting at a dinner table with friends, and you were told to piss your pants, right then and there, you’d actually have to thing about doing it, maybe even force it, for this to habit. You’d have to force something that once came perfectly naturally to you. Emotions are powerful motivators. As adults, we have shame associated with other people seeing us relieve ourselves, and immense feelings of comfort and independence wrapped up in using the toilet alone. Forming new habits is about hacking your emotions, not gritting your teeth and bearing through it.