It happens daily. And it has a significant impact on your actions, your health, your career - basically anything you do and desire to do well.
Duke University researchers confirm that habit affects about 40% of our behaviors daily.1
It makes sense that if you want to improve your life…you must begin at the habit-level.
The power of simplicity
Habit information is abundant. Much of it is heavily research based and often difficult to decipher…and apply in practical ways.
Let’s keep it simple. I’ll share with you some insights I gained from James Clear and his “strategy guide for how to build new habits.”
If you want to take a deep dive into habit development, I recommend Clear’s articles - of which habit is a major part - and his bestselling book, Atomic Habits - An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.
But let’s prime-the-pump a bit with some core principles of habit growth - again, with appreciation to James Clear and his inspiration here.
1-Small habits make it easier to say “yes”
A bit of reverse psychology from Leo Babauta,
”Make it so easy you can’t say no.”2
Your default setting for habit development is often thinking that you need “more” of something. You say things like, “I need more motivation…more willpower…more books, courses, programs…and app…etc.”
Truth is…you don’t need “more” of anything! Because when the “more” loses its "shine" you’ll also lose your initial energy to stay at it.
But if you’re convinced you need “more,” make it about habit-simplicity.
Start with with small habits.
- Instead of 50 pushups start with five
- Instead of 10 minutes of meditation start with 60 seconds
- Instead of 50 pages written or read start with one page
Break it down to breakthrough!
2-Build big habits in small ways
Incremental, gradual improvement leads to an increase.
You increase your bank account one dollar at a time.
You improve your relationships one conversation at a time.
You build your endurance one step at a time.
Avoid the temptation to be amazing from the start. But do amazingly small things consistently and you’ll become amazing at the new habit you’re developing.
3-Chunk big habits into smaller, more doable actions
A one percent increase in any area of personal growth each day will create substantial results. Before long you’ll be stronger, healthier, more focused, or on the road to a completed project and more.
Being reasonable at this point will produce sustainable momentum. The problem with habit development is that it becomes unsustainable.
Again, the incremental principle applies - want to meditate for 20 minutes a day? Chunk it into two 10 minute sessions. Or if that’s a stretch, try four five minute chunks.
Do the math to build bigger habits.
4-View misses as an opportunity to refocus...quickly
”The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control.” - Kelly McGonigal 3
High achievers and personal growth and longevity "champions" miss the mark too.
Renewed focus is driven by resilience.
When you get off-track you get up and get back on-track as quickly as possible. The longer you delay following a setback the more easily doubt, frustration, and failure-overwhelm set in.
Research reveals that missing a habit once, regardless of when, “has no measurable impact on your longterm progress.” 4
Avoid setting yourself up for failure. But know that it can and will occur on your journey to habit development.
- Think on what stands in the way of your desired, new habit.
- What are some inevitable obstacles you will encounter?
- Are there any daily occurrences that can potentially derail you?
- How soon can you “bounce-back” and stay the course?
Perfection is not the goal. In fact, perfectionism is a core enemy of habit development.
Consistency fueled by a resilient mindset creates and sustains habit.
Miss a habit once then pick yourself up...learn from the experience...and resolve to not miss it a second time.
5-Move at a sustainable pace
Patience propels consistency. Think of it as “wait-training.”
Going slower doesn’t mean you’re weak. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare (that’s a rabbit in case you’re wondering).
“Slow and steady...wins the race.”
- Whatever you add to your routine make sure it’s sustainable.
- Ease into new habits by keeping them easy to achieve (before you up your game).
- Be consistent and patient with the outcomes and you’ll embrace harder opportunities in the process.
Habits develop over time. Each sustainable action you take ingrains the results deeper into your mind, body, and soul.
Start somewhere. Even better start now!