Do you want some quick tips on how to build habits that will enhance your life and your business? You’ve come to the right place.
A Habit of Habit Building
I’ve worked hard to build some strong habits that have helped me greatly in my career. Despite some real challenges in my life, I’ve been able to read over 350 books in the last 10 years, speak over 250 times including at several Universities and Fortune 500 company campuses, write just under a thousand blog posts, author three books, and, in the past 7 years, learned nearly 100 songs on the guitar
I’ve been able teach others to build strong habits through speaking, writing, and simply through personal interaction. People have asked me how I do it all, but the methods I use are surprisingly simple. Creating these habits is something that has helped me turn some of the challenges life has brought me into successes.
A Daunting Dilemma
Building habits seems so overwhelming. When you’re excited about something like getting in shape, it’s easy to wake up and start running when the energy is high. It’s quite another to stick with it three weeks in when the weather is cold and you went to bed late the night before.
Habits are easy to start, but can be a struggle to maintain. Let me share with you some insights from my upcoming book that can help you build habits for success that, although they require work, they are easy to attain.
A Challenging Problem
The biggest problem we have with habits is inertia. This scientific principle says that things in motion want to stay in motion and things at rest want to stay at rest. An easier way to say this is that an object or person likes things to stay the way they are. Doing things differently requires effort and determination.
We have routines. We have schedules. We have had 24 hours a day our whole lives. When we take some of that time for new things, it has to come from somewhere. Change disrupts our lives and our patterns, and since it takes upwards of 60 days to make something a habit, we often run out of steam before it’s ingrained.
There’s a better way.
Lessening the Pain
A few years ago a friend recommended a book that changed my life. It’s methods are how I accomplished so much of what I’ve stated above. A couple years ago I came across it’s cousin, which only helped to reinforce some simple ways to improve habits. I have documented both of these books in one of my yearly book reviews.
The methods are shockingly simple.
Take Small Bites
We often fail because we expect our minds, bodies, and schedules to quickly adjust when they need time to adjust. We attempt going from the couch to trying to run a 5k in a single day. A 5k is easy to do – most people can do it in under 30 minutes – but it takes time to make it a daily habit.
Instead try walking in place for 1 minute a day. After a few weeks, you might prefer to walk outside for 5 minutes a day. Soon you’re walking 15 minutes a day. Next thing you know, you’re running. Don’t rush it. Don’t push it. Stay reasonable.
If you want to write a book, just tell yourself to sit down at the computer and write one sentence. That’s it. Starting is the hardest part of the entire process. Once you start, it’s easy to to keep going. You will often type much more than one sentence, but you don’t have to! Let your mind be free from pressure. That’s the beauty of this process and what makes it so easy to grow and expand.
Several years ago, I came across a story about Jerry Seinfeld’s method for writing. I won’t rehash it here, but I will simply say that consistency reaps great results. The idea is that successful people are consistent: they work toward what they want and they do it every day.
If you want to write, write every day. If you want to draw, draw every day. If you want to get in shape, be active every day.
This is how habits are made.
Finally, keep moving forward. The idea is not to push yourself. Getting outside your comfort zone is important, but that’s that’s a topic for another day. This is about building habits, and habits require consistency. Consistency and stress are not great partners.
When I started writing, I required 5 minutes a day. Over two years ago I made it 20 minutes a day and haven’t missed a single day. Just a few days after the start of this year I increased it to 60 minutes a day. This all seemed natural. It all felt right. Sure, when I first started the 20 minutes a day it was uncomfortable, but manageable. When I reached 60 minutes a day, it just felt right.
At this point writing was a lot of fun for me. It wasn’t always that way. I had scoped out the early part of my day to do it. It simply fit. That’s how you know it’s time to improve.
If you want to build habits for success, try these three simple steps:
Take Small Bites: Make it easy on yourself. It takes time to fit new things into your life.
Be Consistent: Whatever size action you take, do it each and every day (with exceptions for Sabbath-type days if needed.)
Keep Improving: Once it feels comfortable, if you see the need, step it up a notch.
Take a chance with this method. I truly believe if you do this, you will love the results.