October 16, 2015
Habit is everywhere; we walk, talk, eat, act and react based on our habit. Everything we do is a habit, from exercising, working hard, studying well to making choices. According to researcher in Duke University, more than 40% of things we do daily are habitual. As a whole, we can say habits help us to achieve our goal and become better person. Habit is what makes difference between someone who earns six figure salary and who constantly struggles due to financial problem, who lives happy fulfilling life and who constantly gets in trouble.
If you are reading this then it’s no doubt that you have tried many times to cultivate habit. An average person when see someone with some wonderful habit or gets disappointed with life, does little research and makes a list of some good habits, gets himself motivated and commits to form those habits. He prepares a strict routine and start following it, for a few days he drag himself to follow the routine then motivation wears out, following the routine becomes tedious job and finally he abandons the routine. This happens to most people, back in the school, after each exam I also used to do the same but things never changed.
After trying lots of methods, I came to conclusion that “Small change makes great difference in the long run.” When trying to cultivate habit most people try to completely revamp their life, they try to alter every aspects of their life from waking up early, exercising to watching less TV, eating healthy food etc. What seems motivating in the beginning, soon becomes terrible task within days, and soon he will return back to his old way of life.
Don’t Ignore the “Power of Less”
In life we are always after big things, big salary, big house, big progress etc and by the way ‘Big’ is far more appealing, so ‘Less’ always gets ignored. But let’s flash back, there was a time when you were just learning to hold the pencil, when you were struggling just to make sounds but now you can write hundreds of words within minutes, you can fluently speak multiple languages. Let me ask you one question, was that small child hustling to hold the pencil or to make sound, certainly not. He didn’t even know how learning to hold the pencil or to make sound was going to change his life. But just with small-small progress with time, you are able to achieve such a great feat. Just look around your life and note how small-small things have made bigger difference in your life.
By the way I don’t think you are going to form habit for certain period or certain time, actually habit is made for a whole life. Good habit is like a deposit in the bank which constantly delivers compound interest as long as you keep following it. So why hustle to form new habit, let’s make it slow and progressive process and also fun.
Instead of starting from 30 pushups a day, running half an hour a day or meditating 20 minutes a day, start from doing 1 pushup a day, just getting out of house and walking 1 minute a day, try to meditate just for 5 seconds. It’s not hard you can do it anytime anywhere even right now. Put your Smartphone or laptop aside and lie flat on the floor, push your chest up with your hand on the floor. ‘Bravo’ it’s day one and you just started doing push up. In the same way, meditating is also not hard just close your eyes, count five seconds in your mind, ‘Congratulation’ you just started doing mini meditation.
Don’t worry about things like right method, right amount or right time, the main idea is to make things simple, easy and fun. Overtime you will form the habit of doing push up and meditating without even knowing it.
And it’s not always boring, let’s do little math, if you keep increasing +1 push up or +5 seconds of meditation each month, then within a year you will be doing +12 pushups or +1 minute of meditation a day. What you have been trying to do since many years is now a habit, which you rarely miss to perform.
By the way you don’t have to wait for 1 whole year to form just 2-3 habits, most habits are formed within 3-4 months, depending on the difficulty level it varies. Easier habit can be formed within 2 month or less time but harder habit takes time, sometime even more than a year. Main principle is to stick to the same habits until it becomes automatic, easier and effortless, then only jump to other habits. Even in average you will be able to have more than 5-6 new habits within a year.
Here is the summary:
1. Make a list of good habits you want to cultivate, among them pick 2-3 habits you want to cultivate within next couple of months.
2. Make the process simple and easy. Don’t worry about right method, right amount or right time. Slow change is better than no change, so stick to the plan no matter how boring it seems.
3. Once the habit becomes automatic and effortless, choose other 2-3 habits and start working on them.