Updated: Sep 21
Have you tried to adopt a habit and failed miserably?
I have, and several times over too. But I also know that in the realm of personal development, there are only a few concepts that are as transformative and powerful as cultivating a good habit.
Sometimes tiny actions that may seem insignificant, if repeated consistently, can impact our lives in profound ways. This is not something I learned on my own while meditating on it. No, I jumped on James Clear's "Atomic Habits" hype and have never looked back since!
Reading the book helped me understand that there is a science to creating a good habit that sticks (and also to break a bad habit – but that can be another blog) and gives you a step-by-step rundown as to how you can start building one. I highly recommend you read this book, especially before the new year when you start setting your own business goals, so you can really make them stick. Also, I recommend that you read the book first, plan your habit, and then reread it to implement it. There are a TON of resources and a really cool newsletter that James Clear sends out that you need to be a part of. Give in to the hype. It's so worth it!
Here are the 4 concepts central to his philosophy and my take on them…
Make It Obvious!
This is rather obvious. Well, if you want to read before bed, leave your book on the nightstand or bedside table and make sure you have a good reading light and everything that is conducive for you to actually pick up your book and read. Make it something you can’t avoid, step over, or walk around – you MUST complete the task to proceed to the next level. James Clear also suggests habit stacking, or pairing a new habit with a current habit. This has not panned out for me that well because I am not exactly a creature of habit, but putting things in places I can't avoid or where I see them in plain sight has helped me immensely.
Make It Attractive!
This is perhaps my favorite part of building a habit—making it fun for myself if I get something done. James Clear explains the Role of Dopamine—a neurotransmitter that rewards us for beneficial behaviors. But really, this is something that really works, the science of this system aside. I find one hour of uninterrupted audiobook listening time at the gym, and that was all the encouragement I needed to get myself out there and get started!
If you are a herd sort of person (I am a true introvert), James Clear encourages you to join a group and surround yourself with people who embody the habits you want to adopt. Positive Peer Pressure… (but not my cup of chai!)
Make It Easy!
This one I like! It’s the Two-Minute Rule—When starting a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. This makes it easier to get started and one I completely subscribe to. I always tell myself I will read one page instead of a chapter to ensure I get the habit going.
Discussing habits on the team call, MerriLyn also concurred that when she wants to hit the gym in the afternoon, she always takes two minutes to put on her gym clothes in the morning. This tiny action makes it easier for her to get out the door to the gym because she is already ready for it!
Make It Satisfying!
Well, if you have stuck to your habit and you are cruising, give yourself a reward. This will reinforce the behavior and is a great form of self-care! And I firmly believe that I deserve to be pampered for putting in the work.
The road to personal growth is paved with habits and cannot be avoided. As you can see, I don't implement everything that James Clear suggests, but I do adopt suggestions that work best for me and that I know I can sustain to create a positive change. The size of your habit does not matter; it's consistency that matters—so stay committed.
- Here's to compounding habits! -
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Written by Tatum De Souza