What Is Your One Habit?

I recently read The One Thing by Gary Keller. It’s an insightful book that can help you get the most out of your life.

The message of the book is simple: you should focus on just one thing that gives you the most impact. Not a few things, but just one thing. So it goes further than the Pareto principle that says you should focus on a few important things. That’s why the book calls its principle extreme Pareto.

A key reason why the approach works is that the most important thing is usually difficult to do. It’s not something we are comfortable doing. It’s not something we would naturally do. As a result, we tend to procrastinate doing it. How? By doing the less important things! But, by removing the less important things, we have no choice but to do the most important one.

This mindset can be applied to different areas of your life. Here, though, I’d like to apply it to habit building.

Applied to habit building, it means that you should focus on building just one habit that will give you the most impact. Don’t try to build too many habits at once. Instead, pick just one habit and focus on building it.

In The Power of Habit, such a habit is called a keystone habit. This is the habit that can start a chain reaction of positive events in other areas of your life.

How do we choose this habit?

The One Thing suggests using the so-called Focusing Question to help you decide. Here is the question:

What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Applied to habit building, the question becomes:

What’s the ONE habit you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

As you can see, there are two criteria here: easier and unnecessary.

With easier, it means that the habit should enable you to do other things more effectively. This can happen if the habit provides you with the energy, motivation, or knowledge to do those other things.

With unnecessary, it means that the habit should give you clarity. It should help you decide whether or not something is necessary to do. This can happen if the habit helps you align with your values and long-term goals.

Your one habit should meet at least one of these two criteria.

Here are some examples:

  • Exercise can make it easier for you to do other activities. How? By giving you the energy to do them.
  • Having a quiet time can give you clarity. How? By helping you be aligned with your values.
  • Reading can make it easier for you to reach your goals. How? By giving you the knowledge to get there.

These are just a few examples; you need to find what your one habit is. Then, after finding it, you should focus on building it. The One Thing says that it takes an average of 66 days to build a habit.

What is your one habit? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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22 Comments

  1. Great post, Donald.

    Habits can do what motivation and willpower often fail us. Current one habit is to read 30 minutes on tech and business each day.

  2. Its abit hard now for me to identity that habit though when I read this,I see the need to figure out that habit.

    Am this guy who is Just on course of building my stand in life,i have alot going on as trying to find my purpose,so I have to take this too into consideration.

    Thanks for the information

  3. I have just recently started every morning reading self-talk cards, to overcome destructive thought patterns, it is working as a lot of things are starting to fall into place such as goal setting and working on becoming organized

  4. My 1st habit was listening to everything my parents said and constantly seeking their approval on everything. It wasn’t until almost losing my daughter at four months old, when I developed my relationship with God. This sent me on a journey to start thinking for myself and finding my purpose in the midst of it. You’ll know a habit, cause it will metaphorically feel like you are bench pressing 500 pounds.
    My second habit was a fear of public speaking. I use to sit all the way in the back of the classroom to avoid the spotlight. When I was put on the spot to my first public speaking event. I immediately said no, but asked myself if not now, then when? So I blocked out what could go wrong to break the habit of being afraid of public speaking.
    With deliberate intention any habit can be broken.
    Break one habit and you’ll get into the habit of breaking others. Lol

  5. Oghenetega Agofure
    Oghenetega Agofure

    Reading is the one habit I have and it has helped to unlock key potentials in me. Beyond the unlock of potentials it has aided so immensely in the sharpening of my vision for life.

  6. By continue learning you can easily change your habits. It’s you, who can bring a change of habit with strong believe/efforts.
    God bless life optimizer team.
    It’s great to read you every morning regularly.

  7. Beautiful:) All my habits are so empowering. For it is said by one school of thought, that… good habit are very hard to start but so good to live with and the opposite is true of BAD habits.

  8. ‘You should focus on just one thing that gives you the most impact. Not a few things, but just one thing.’

    Hey Donald, it’s Matt here. I loved your post, specially the part about focusing on one thing at a time. Humans are terrible at thinking that they can multitask when really we can’t. And definitely I have to admit that I have found myself, on occasion, procrastinating the big tasks and doing the very small tasks instead or trying to distract myself by doing something completely unrelated.

    One habit that I have created for myself is to read at least 30-1 hour per day.

    Thanks,
    Matt Hutson
    BookMattic

  9. As a student, i find it difficult to study for 60 minutes but having read this ,I am determined to develop the habit to acceleratecelerate my time of study .

  10. I have often thought of keystone ideas or actions that when done correctly, will allow all other necessary steps to fall into place. I ask myself this kind of question when I am faced with a task that has a variety of different elements that all seem pressing and important. Such as writing my own blog. Not only is there content creation and the actual reviews, there is SEO, site engineering and various other forms of optimization. Focusing on a few of these elements definitely makes it easier to find what makes the most difference. I feel that we are bombarded with so much information that it is difficult to discern the actionable bits and pieces from the junk. I like this post, it offers a skill that can bring up a bit more clarity when it comes to sifting through the all too prevalent pitches and pseudo helpful advice. Great work!

    • Yes, there are often so many options that it’s difficult to figure out the most important thing. But, as you said, we need to find the keystone idea or action.
      Thanks for sharing!

  11. This sounds like a good idea. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I let other important (but less important than writing) things get in the way. For 2018, writing is it, my one thing.

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