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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