We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle
Your habits play an important role in your life. Having good habits will lead you to an effective life. Having bad habits, on the other hand, will lead you to failures. So it’s essential that you build good habits.
Scott Adams once said that “Losers have goals and winners have systems.” But what systems do you need to have?
Well, I believe that one of them is a habit-building system. The reason? Because good habits don’t happen automatically.
The fact is: we tend to choose the easy way. We tend to follow the path of least resistance. I have seen this time and again in my life. Writing, for instance, doesn’t come easily for me. If I didn’t have a system for doing it, days or even weeks could pass by without me writing. I had to build the habit.
Here is the point: if you want to change your life, be intentional in building your habits.
Here are some tips on building habits:
1. Be Balanced
It’s important to live a balanced life. When it comes to habit-building, that means you should build habits in all five aspects of life. Building habits in just a few aspects (such as Work) but neglecting the others (such as Health) will cause problems in your life in the long term.
2. Start Small
In building new habits, start small. In fact, you can start with a mini habit. What’s important is not how much you do it but how consistent you do it.
3. Use a Tool
It will be easier for you to build habits if you have a tool that can help you do it. In my case, I use HabitMaster—a habit-building app that I developed. It shows me checklists of my daily, weekly, and monthly habits. All I need to do is work through the lists and I know that I’ll be good.
4. Choose Carefully
An important part of habit-building is choosing what habits to build. Your resources are limited, so you need to be careful in choosing what habits to build. Choose only the ones that can make the most difference in your life.
5. Build Just a Few at Once
A common reason for failure in habit building is trying to build too many habits at once. It happened to me. I once had a long list of habits to build. And what happened? I got stressed. I got exhausted by the end of the day. Before long, I just stopped doing them altogether!
So build just a few habits at once. The key word here is priority.
6. Celebrate Victories
You need to have a feedback system that can give you a sense of accomplishment if you do well. This is important to keep you motivated in the long run.
In my case, it gives me a sense of accomplishment to see my checklists fully marked in HabitMaster. It lets me say to myself, “I did it!”
7. Build Upon What You’ve Built
Once you have built some solid habits, you can build on them. How? By doing more of a habit or building a new habit related to it.
For instance, if previously you commit to reading books for half an hour a day, you can increase it to 45 minutes a day (more of that habit) or you can add listening to podcasts to it (a related new habit). Just be careful not to overdo it or you might get burned out.
Habits are essential for your personal effectiveness. The important thing is to be intentional in building them. Build a system. Make it a priority. That’s how you can increase your personal effectiveness.
Any thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments.