Get Addicted to Good Habits
Many of us can recognize our bad habits. Few of us focus on changing them. So, if you want to start changing your behavior and building good habits, how do you go about it?
Whether it’s personal or professional, you can transform your life dramatically by gradually transforming your habits, one small step at a time.
Personally, about a year ago, I decided to get into better shape, build muscle and lose some weight. For years, I had worked out at home by dragging myself out of bed early in the morning and exercising in the basement with Billy Blanks (virtually, on DVD) kick boxing myself awake for about 20 minutes a day, a few days a week. The older I got, the less effective this became. So last summer, I asked my very fit daughter to help me. She took me to her gym just a few days a week and taught me how to use the machines, breath correctly (who knew I had to learn that!), conquer my fear of the treadmill, and create a varied routine for a balanced work-out plan. When my daughter returned to college, I decided to join my husband’s fitness club so we could go together and motivate each other. I hired a trainer for a weekly 25-minute session over 6 months and went to some classes or did my own work outs a few other days at the gym. A few months after that, I joined a 30-day, Will-Powered Intuitive Eating program focused on macro-nutrition. One year later, I lost about 13 inches and almost 20 pounds—and feel healthy and fit.
Now, I am truly addicted to working out. I take work-out clothes with me when I travel. I make sure I get to the gym at least 4 days a week for up to an hour. Sometimes, when travelling on vacation or for work, eating healthy and finding time to exercise can be a challenge. But, as soon as I return home, I get right back on track. And it’s working.
This is just one example of following James Clear’s habit-changing strategies. The best-selling author of Atomic Habits recently spoke at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women and delivered the key message that “Excellence isn’t about making radical changes, but about small changes over time.” He defines habits as “the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day.” James points out that habits are critical to reshaping your identity and true behavior change is identity change. The secret is to first believe something new about yourself—BEING it vs DOING it. In other words, first image it and believe that you can do it.
It’s also important to recognize that change is hard. And, it often feels overwhelming. But when you follow the key steps that James provides it makes it manageable—and achievable. He recommends the following 5 powerful strategies to gradually, but effectively, transform your habits—and transform your life.
START SMALL. Make it something easy enough that you can do it. Just get started to feel a sense of accomplishment.
THEN INCREASE THE HABIT IN SMALL WAYS. James provides proof that 1% increments can add up and make a dramatic impact over time.
BREAK HABITS INTO CHUNKS. As you build up, break the habits into chunks or manageable pieces that will allow you to build momentum and gradually add up to progress.
WHEN YOU SLIP, GET BACK ON TRACK QUICKLY. It’s about consistency, not perfection. Don’t expect to fail, but, recognize that it’s okay if it does happen and get back on track.
BE PATIENT. Figure out what works for you and stick to a pace you can sustain.
Professionally, consider this example. Suppose you decided that you wanted to increase your expertise and advance your industry knowledge. Schedule 30 minutes on your calendar once a week devoted to reading one leading industry publication. In a few weeks, add another day on your calendar and a different publication or website. A few months later, add a third day and establish a new routine where you always allocate time to regularly stay up to speed on news, trends and changes in your industry.
The habits you form—and repeat—become who you are. You can maintain or change that. Don’t be a victim of your habits. Instead, take control and get addicted to good habits. You will be healthier, happier and ultimately more successful.
The Habits Guide: How to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, https://jamesclear.com/habits
2018, Atomic Habits, by James Clear, https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits