Have a fit body, have a balanced lifestyle, become a millionaire, travel around the world are often the types of goals/dreams that we always hear from someone. Since small we are always asked what is your ambition and what is your dream in life. Often time we always force to have a dream so that our life seems to be a little more meaningful but frankly, do we really need goals/dreams in order to have a great life?
Like games, what makes a game interesting to play is the quest/mission and its story. That is how I see my life, my goals/dream are basically my life quest. My goal kind of determine the person who I am and what I want to become. In my opinion, having goal/dream in life is necessary but building a habit towards that goal is a must.
See often time we have goals that are temporary or once accomplish, it is done. Like you can have a goal to lose weight and go on a diet for few months and once you achieve it, you feel proud. You start with your next goal which is learning a new skill and few months into your new goal, you notice that you are gaining weight again. Then goes the cycle again where you have a goal to lose weight. So instead of setting a goal to lose weight, we can have the goal to have a healthy lifestyle. The difference between each goal is that one is temporary and another one is a lifestyle change, more towards building the right habit to lose weight.
So how do you really build the right habit for anything?
The answer that I have is heavily inspired by James Clear (author of Atomic Habit) method on how to build new habits.
- Start with the small steps
- Continue building with incremental changes
- Make it into small chunks and make it easier
- If you fall, fall forward and rise back up
- You are not running a marathon, it is a journey
- Plan well and start your journey in building the person you want to be
1. Start with the small steps
First, understand that you can't change your attitude overnight and if you can it will not last long. Before you can reach or achieve your goal, you would have given up and go back to your old habits. Start with small baby steps, like how in games you have levels same like that in building a right habit you have levels. Make it so easy that you will never say no to do it on a daily basis. Imagine going to the gym for the first time and start running in the trek mill for 5 km. You will either torn out or never visit the gym anymore. That is because your body muscle is not ready for it yet, same like that your motivation towards building a right habit is not ready yet. Make it easy enough that you can get it done even without motivation.
2. Continue building with incremental changes
Then from there increase your habit in a very small way. An improvement of 1% to be better every day can improve in the long run. James Clear calls this The Power of Tiny Gains. You may think 1% every day does it really give much of an impact but if you understand the power of compounding you will be shocked what 1% a day can do for a year. The main rule here is you have to be consistent and do it every day. Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
3. Make it into small chunks and make it easier again
Mistakes that everyone does once they accomplished the first two steps are overcommitting themselves to their habit and getting burnout. As you keep improving every day on building good habits, it is important to take note of your limits too. Make sure you don't overcommit yourself as you are progressing daily. Keep your habit reasonable so that you can maintain your momentum/motivation. As we discuss in the first rule make sure you keep your habit as easy as possible to accomplish it.
Let's take jogging, for example, the first day you start with 500 meters and gradually increase to 2 kilometers and you realize that you are getting more tired than before, instant of forcing yourself to continue doing it you can break down the habit even smaller. You can have different jogging segments as in the morning and evening or have a break in between kilometers like a rest walk. This will encourage you to keep up with your habit daily and maintain your motivation do stay committed.
4. If you fall, fall forward and rise back up
Don't have the all-or-nothing mentality. No humans are perfect, there are times where you might miss out on your daily commitments but that doesn't mean you fail in your habit building. Remember you are trying to be consistent, not perfect. Research has shown that missing your habit once will not impact on your long-term progress. But make sure to bounce back to your habit and continue it. Remember consistency is the key, James Clear suggest a way where you must never miss twice in a row. If you miss your habit once make sure the next day you are able to get back on your habit. Small progress is also enough to achieve your daily commitments. Focus on building the person you want to become without missing a habit twice.
5. You are not running a marathon, it is a journey
Finally, don't rush, there is no point in building a habit in a rush. You are building a habit for long-term growth so be patient about it. Being patient and building a habit with ease will result in incredible progress. The day you plant down the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Enjoy the progress and you will be amazed at how remarkable you can become.
Start doing something good today so that your future self will thank you for it. It all starts with the first step so don't hesitate do to it.