An evergreen seed doesn’t grow into a giant timber in a day. Otherwise, it would collapse from the smallest gust of wind. It takes decades, if not centuries, to develop a foundation of strong roots that allow the pine to emerge from the mothering soil into a sturdy trunk. Sometimes, people can be like trees. They want to skyrocket their growth but end up falling over because of their sudden changes. People don’t realize that what is underneath the great successes is what matters. When people work on embedding layers of routines and habits into their everyday lives, they can rise to extraordinary heights.
The Power of Habit
Habits move the needle to achieve goals and impact lives. The misinformation that motivation and willpower are needed to accomplish your lofty desires will never get you anywhere. Relying on both of these external forces is dangerous. Inspiration lasts two days, while cultivated discipline lasts for years. The key to real change is developing habits that can run without willpower, yet still, produce results. The easiest practices that require the least resistance are the ones that compound into monumental achievements. To dream big, you need to start small. By setting the bar low, you gain confidence because of the consistent streak you are building. It’s the small daily actions that get the ball rolling and create motion for grander behaviors.
How to Start
Starting is the hardest step. When you remove the pressure and expectations from the beginning, you can start to create lasting change that will make incredible differences over time. It seems ridiculous to floss one tooth a day or to lace up your running shoes only for a minute run outdoors. However, the small friction of doing tiny daily activities are what compound to create lifestyle changes.
The easiest way to complete these small habits, like doing one push-up, meditating for 30 seconds, or drinking one sip of water, is by tacking them on to previous routines. For example, before setting your alarm for tomorrow, you could place a book by your clock. This will then develop into reading a paragraph in the morning after your alarm goes off, then reading a page, and so on. In a few weeks, it will seem natural to read one hour after waking.
Track Your Progress
As you continue on your journey of improving parts of your life little by little, track your progress. Make it simple, like writing a “yes I did it!” or “no, I didn’t do it” in a journal. Remember, less friction means you are more likely to complete the task at hand. Tracking your progress puts your goals on paper. It makes your evolution quantifiable and measurable. You can’t accomplish something that is not calculable.
While you are confidently tracking and progressing, you will get bored. One push-up isn’t going to cut it anymore. That’s when you know to increase your tiny habit. Of course, only improve it by a marginal percentage, like 10-15%. Once you get bored with that, you can raise the base point again.
Motivation is a myth and willpower is overrated. If you solely rely on these two external forces, don’t expect lasting changes in your lifestyle. Sudden alterations do not stick. Tiny, but consistent habits generate motion. Routines that seem so minuscule that it almost doesn’t matter if you do them or not are the ones that take heart in your life. The seed must create a network of supporting roots before it can grow into a tree.
- Guise, S. (2017, September 6). How Simple Mini Habits Can Change Your Life. Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from tinybuddha.com/blog/simple-mini-habits-can-change-life/
- Nawaz, S. (2020, January 22). To Achieve Big Goals, Start with Small Habits. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from hbr.org/2020/01/to-achieve-big-goals-start-with-small-habits
- Talks, T. (2012, December 5). Forget big change, start with a tiny habit: BJ Fogg at TEDxFremont. YouTube. Retrieved from youtube.com/watch?v=AdKUJxjn-R8