The 365 Commitment

Start Small

You just have to start small. It is the only way to secure a long lasting, life improving habit. If you start to big, you will fail. If you start by doing too many things, you will fail. Success comes by starting with the smallest increment that you are able to do for a continuous period of time, long enough for the activity to become habit. If you try to accomplish a new habit and you fail, it is most likely because the increment was too big.

Now this maybe an incredibly embarrassing realization. Embarrassing, but necessary. What is your lowest common denominator? What is the lowest amount of work you are actually willing to do everyday until it becomes a habit? This is the issue that keeps us from habit creation. We take on more then we are willing to do. The point is the workload has to be easy enough that you will do it repeatedly. If you try to build a habit based on a workload you are unwilling to do everyday, then you will fail.

Take my water drinking habit. I have this lofty ideal of drinking one gallon everyday. I have even bought a couple of cool (even with ice packs) water jugs that I can interchange. I have also bought flavored electrolyte mix to make it more interesting. None of this has worked, why? A gallon is too much work, I just will not do it consistently. However, 8oz is how much I will consistently do everyday guaranteed. That seems incredibly embarrassing actually. However, I will, without fail, wake up every morning and drink an 8oz cup of water. That I can make a consistent habit. So rather than starting with the gallon, I can start with 8oz. Here is the real kicker. 8oz, consistently over 30 days, is far better than 1 gallon for 3 days followed by 27 days of failure.

That is a simple example, but very illustrative. You can add just about any good thing you want to do in life to this formula. I met this researcher from Stanford, BJ Fogg, who was working on this concept called Tiny habits. He basically came to the same conclusion. Humans are more likely to do little things. Like brushing teeth. That is a habit you can keep, it is easy and has a consistent trigger.

So are you struggling to keep a good habit? Simple answer. Start small. Really small.

Guy Reams

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