As someone who is obsessed with personal development and forming the right habits, I naturally have several friends who are on the same path. So inevitably, when we meet up, the conversation drifts towards personal development topics; and inevitably, we start talking about our goals.
So friend A will say: “I want to lose 20 pounds in 6 months from now.” Friend B will say: “I want to be able to make a living from working as a professional musician in a year from now.” Friend C will say: “I want to be married 2 years from now.” Friend D will say: “I want to learn 3 new languages in the next five years.”
All legit goals (well, if marriage is your thing…). And I like the fact that all my friends are very specific about their goals, in terms of what they exactly want to accomplish and in what time span. Just like me, they read their books and blogs and just like me, they know about the importance of goal setting. You need to have an idea of where you are going in order to get there – it’s a simple as that.
There is a certain type of habit I have never talked about on this blog, even though it is what people commonly think of first when they hear the word “habit.” I call this a “mindless habit” or “micro habit,” simply because it is so tiny that other people will hardly notice it. An example would be placing your keys always in the same place at home, so you don’t have to run around like a headless chicken when you need them.
As I said, this is what comes to mind first when people speak of habits. Consequently, habits have this kind of everyday, petty convenience type of connotation – a little trick that is useful, usually time saving, but not life altering in any way.
If you know me, then you know I believe the key to every kind of success is forming the right kind of daily habits. Whether it’s mastering a skill, getting healthy, becoming more organized, or successfully running a business, having the right habits in place is the ultimate answer. Taking this into consideration, I recently began to differentiate between certain types of habits.
One of the main reasons I STARTED this blog was because I wanted to hold myself accountable for my self-prescribed daily habits. Letting others know to put more pressure on myself, all that stuff. One of the main reasons I KEEP WRITING this blog is that it helps me to stick out the grind, i.e. the process it takes to get good at something.
There is an all too human urge for instant gratification and it has only gotten worse with the arrival of the digital age. We want it all and we want it now. Any effort requiring more than a few clicks seems outdated and boring. The idea that something has to be learned and practiced daily, over the course of several years, has completely gone out of fashion.
We are the culture of the “hack” – everything can be somehow circumvented, or so we like to think.
I’m as cranky as I can get right now: Over the course of the whole week, I was awoken by the sound of drilling and hammering due to some serious construction going on at the top of my apartment. If that wasn’t enough, the little hipster next door thought it was a great idea to host all his skinny jeans wearing friends this weekend for an epic electro party marathon. Initially, I tried NOT to be the party police and let them go on. However, when they started throwing shit against the wall, I put on my best “Rickson Gracie is not amused” face, went next door, and cut the party short – which gave me at least some slight emotional satisfaction.
I’m a huge fan of habit building. Whatever skill you want to possess, whatever project you want to tackle – forming the right habits is the answer. That means any kind of complex task is best tackled by working on it DAILY, in MANAGABLE chunks. By working on it daily, this new routine becomes completely ingrained in you, so you never stop – regularity is key. By focusing on manageable chunks, you make sure you can keep the habit up, even after a really bad night’s sleep or when feeling sick – sustainability is key.