Start Small, the Power of Building Successful Habits

Successful people experience great rewards in life not because of charisma, opportunity, or special abilities, but because of their habits. Merriam Webster defines a habit as a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior. Habits are more than an activity or mental pattern.

James Clear, the author of “Atomic Habits” emphasizes that habits are the votes of the person you want to become. Our habits reflect our behaviors and beliefs, and our beliefs reflect our identity. We can conclude that the thoughts we think and actions we take repeatedly are who we are.

Hence, to change a habit, we need to change the belief that we have about ourselves. This transformation is simpler than most would think. The solution may be to change our habits which will impact who we are. Every lasting behavioral change happens in small increments. It’s amazing how small changes compound into big results that stand the test of time.

Here are three steps to help you in your journey to becoming who you’ve always wanted to be.

1. System over goals

James Clear shares that we fall to the level of our systems. Many people have great aspirations; few have a system to support their aim. Therefore, it’s not about a goal, it’s about a system. A system reflects your identity and values and can be identified with how you spend your time, effort, money, and attention. Whereas your investment in each of these will be determined by your habits. By choosing your habits you choose where you invest in and ultimately, who you want to become. My husband and I eat mainly a vegan diet. To support this, we stock up on the right foods to make meals at home easy. It’s part of our system and allows us to make meals effortless and align with our decision.

Think about who you would like to be in the next 90 days. What area of your life do you experience the most friction in? What habits make it difficult? What habits would be helpful?

“The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.” – James Clear

2. Two Minute Rule

A famous writer asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” the response was, “One bite at a time.” Goals are easier to accomplish when we take small steps that add up over time to accomplish them. It helps to avoid fatigue, burn out, and confusion, so, to start a habit, break them down into smaller atomic habits. You can start with a trigger action.

Trigger action is the first action you take in a habit loop. For instance, if you wanted to start exercising in the morning, a trigger action could be to lay out workout clothes the night before, so it is easier to get ready in the morning. I drink a glass of water first thing every morning, so I have it ready on my nightstand. Hard to say no when it is right there waiting for me!

It is also recommended that you do the hardest or most important thing on your to-do list first thing in the morning. This sets the tone for the rest of the day. When I am tempted to not do my push-ups in the morning, which I do not enjoy btw, I remind myself I am a disciplined person. Hard to neglect them after I’ve just told myself this!

3. Reward your best efforts

You should give yourself timely rewards after you complete a habit, but your rewards should not be counterintuitive to your goals. So, a less than ideal way to reward yourself after a great week of eating balanced meals and workouts isn’t to overindulge in a cheat day. Instead, try to mix it up. Reward yourself with a tiny splurge or fun activity like a round of mini-golf with a friend.

4. Day after perfect

Jon Acuff shared on his podcast about the day after perfect. Typically, the day after we lose a positive streak, we can be tempted to give up on a habit. However, even when things do not go perfectly, give yourself the grace to try again tomorrow. Remember this isn’t about a goal, habits are voting for the person you want to become, and that is a lifelong journey. Simply get back on the horse and begin a new streak, longer than the last!

Each of us has the ability to build new habits that will equip us to have the big, long-lasting results we desire. The secret is to start and start small. You can do it!

At Etech Global Services we choose to make a remarkable difference in the lives of our customers, employees, and communities. We do this by living by our character commitments, one value at a time. Come join our global community!

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