The Courage to Change – One Habit at a TimeOct 26, 2011
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
**Photo by David Reece
Life is about dividing and conquering. Small steps, done consistently over time, lead to big performances.
Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits, talks about setting goals and building rituals. He recently published and article that articulated the simplest “algorithm” for building positive, lasting habits over time.
- Start very small
- Do only ONE change at a time
- Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results)
- Be grateful for every step you take
The most profound piece of this is the “one at a time” motto (#2). We tend to try and take too much on. Not only do we want to lose weight, but we want to read more, workout more, call our parents more, meditate more, pray more, etc. Our success is typically fleeting. Maybe a couple solid days, then one day of non-success and we’re done. Leo’s methodology of one at a time is profound. He calls for 4-6 weeks of one habit.
Let’s say you want to wake up earlier. Just do that. Don’t take anything else on. Concentrate on waking up earlier, that’s it. If you typically wake at 7am, don’t get too drastic. Think about doing this over 4-6 weeks. Maybe it’s just 6:55 for a couple days, then 6:45 and so on. You get the picture.
The cool thing about this is that waking early will lead to more success in other areas. You’ll have more energy throughout the day b/c you will get more done early (I know… seems backwards).
Remember, the key here is to NOT do anything else with regards to changing habits during this time. It’s fine to list out what else you want to do throughout the year, but one at a time for this approach.
If you do the basic math – 52 weeks, 6 weeks per habit, you’re talking at least 8 new habits formed throughout the year. If I told you that you’d be rocking it in 8 different facets of your life by the time one year goes by, how would you feel? I’d be pretty damn stoked.
Taking on too much is one of my fatal flaws. I’m a big culprit of trying to change too many things at once. I hear what Leo says about this, but I haven’t been listening. Part of the reason I’m writing this to publicly admit this and make myself accountable to changing, ONE AT A TIME.
So, who’s with me?
My initial habit to change is to write everyday. I’m starting small, just 5 minutes a day for the first week. My goal is for this to lead to more consistent posts, even if some are shorter than what you’re used to seeing. At least once a week to start.
What’s your ONE habit you want to instill? Don’t be afraid to leave a comment!
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