manage priorities

The Ultimate Way of Aquring a New Habit

 

Have you ever heard the expression “A 1000 mile journey starts with a single step”? I bet you have and you have probably seen the logic in it but has it been helpful to you? Probably not? The problem most people have with this proverb is understanding what a single step is. Read on and I will share some thoughts that will hopefullt make things clearer for you.

Most of us go through a process at one time or another where we want to reach a goal, understand that it will take some effort, take some action, keep with it for some time, make a few compromises and then give up. The reason we give up is that the change we are implementing has not been formed into a habit before the first compromise we make and as soon as we make the first compromise we are setting ourselves up for failure.

New Habit
So, the real trick here is to aquire new habits, fine, but how do we do that so that they are trulky formed before we attmpt any compromise. The secret is forming smaller habits that have the potential to turn them selves into bigger habits. Make yourself a promise to do something that is so small that there is absolutely no way you can fail. Don’t promise yourself to working out 20 minutes each morning if your are not currently working out at all in the morning. It is a recepie for disaster, you will stick to it for a couple of days tops. The first step you have chosen is too long and your 1000 mile journey will fail because of it.

What you do is promise yourself to do something that is so simple that there is no way you can reasonably talk yourself out of, for example: each morning I will do 2 push-ups. I guarantee you you will always have time to do 2 push-ups. I think we can all agree that this promise is not a huge task at all and should be something you can stick top unless you have no intention at all to complete your journey. The beauty with this approach is that you will soon catch yourself surpassing your own promise and if you choose to you can then adjust your promise, you have formed a new habit you are not violating and out of pure joy you do more.

Action Steps

  1. Choose a long term goal you want to achieve.
  2. Define a step you can take now that is so easy and so quick you will be able to repeat it as often as you choose with no possibility of failure.
  3. Implement.
  4. Go back to step 2 when you are constantly (not just sometimes) overacheiving.
Examples
Here a few examples, to set the level for where to start. The trick is to keep what you decide in step 2 so quick and easy that you ABSOLUTELY will not skip it. This is cruical:
  • Play a scale on guitar or piano three times. Long term goal: become good at guitar or piano.
  • Practice juggling for 30 seconds. Long term goal: become a juggler.
  • Do breathing excercises for 1 minute. Long term goal: can be anything from yoga, music or sports.
  • Draw 5 faces quickly. Long term goal: become an painter or comic book artist.
  • Translate 3 sentences. Long term goal: learn a new language.
One warning though, do not start multiple processes. Start one, let it settle, then you can start another one. Too many at the same time will make you confused. Also don’t confue the long term goal for the quick and easy step you are taking now. I love playing blues harmonica and to become really good I need to practice daily. To get into practicing daily my quick and easy step is to practice harmonica train imitations for at least 30 seconds each day. My long term goal is to become good att harmonica not practicing train imitations. The train imitation is just a vehicle for getting into the habit of daily practice. The good thing is that the train imitation is an excellent exercise that will give me lots of benefits other than this as well, so chose your step wisely. You can have multiple benefits.

How will you use this process?