The key to growing as a person, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success comes from understanding how habits work.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, a big portion of our lives is ruled by subconscious habits, and it’s our awareness of them that gives us the power to make adjustments that lead to meaningful change.
Whether it’s something you’d like to change in your organization as a whole, your own personal storytelling, your role as a leader, something in your family life, or in your health and well-being, there’s one thing psychologists have shown us time and time again:
Trying to make too many big changes at once is all too often destined for failure. It’s the small, incremental changes that end up sticking.
And, as Duhigg puts it, there are small changes we can introduce into our routines that can expand to carry over into other aspects of life.
Benjamin P. Hardy elaborates, that when a person starts with something as small as committing to exercising just once per week, she may unknowingly start eating better and becoming more productive at work; which may lead to other changes like feeling a reduction in stress, showing more patience with others, and feeling more motivated in general.
The great thing about the nature of habits is that over time, they become automatic. Once a habit is well ingrained, the brain stops working so hard on decision-making, and has the opportunity to divert its attention to other things. Which means that once a habit is formed (like eating better, or devoting 30 minutes a day to improving your storytelling), it eventually requires less and less “will power” to continue doing it. Unless you deliberately fight a habit, the pattern will unfold automatically.
I know that for me, this is an encouraging piece of information when I think about the goals I’m working toward. How can I use the power of incremental change and habit-forming to achieve the important and meaningful pursuits in my life?
And the same goes for you. Whether you’re the president of a non-profit, the VP of marketing for a promising startup, or you’re a filmmaker looking to improve emotional connection in your stories, ask yourself:
What’s one thing I wish I could change that I haven’t yet, because I’m too busy, because it’s fallen off my radar, or because I simply haven’t put the effort in?
And then, ask yourself a follow-up question:
What are three small things I can change that could accumulate over time to yield meaningful change in this area?
Take a moment. Do it now. Whether it has something to do with your professional life or personal dreams, there must be something you’re working towards.
Write your goal down in one sentence, and list those 3 little tweaks you can realistically make on a regular basis and sustain over time.
It could be as simple as:
“I want to become a better storyteller.”
1. Spend 10 minutes every morning on Muse Storytelling’s Blog before I get out of bed.
2. Start all of my emails with a strong “hook” to practice how I start communications.
3. Watch one TED talk per week on any topic, and pay attention to how speakers express themselves.
Then, commit to a time frame.
It could be a week. A month. A year or longer. But whatever it is, stick to it. And be prepared to evolve over time if your goal shifts and new variables come into play. But whatever you do, don’t quit—not unless you can definitively say, “this mission is no longer important to me.”
Once you’ve decided on your steps, share them with me below by commenting on this post. Because when we declare something publicly, we’re that much more likely to follow through!
As a team, Stillmotion has used this technique of habit-building for internal cultural development, technical learning, expansion of mental and physical skills, business growth, and countless other areas. It’s been transformational.
My Personal 2-Week Micro-Habit Challenge
On a personal note, just yesterday I issued myself a new challenge. I’m calling it the Two Week Micro-Habit Challenge, and I’m using it as an opportunity to test my physical abilities, study my mental paradigms, and see what I can learn about myself from implementing four health-related micro-habits over the next 14 days.
If you’re interested in joining me for this personal 2-week journey, start by visiting my Day 01 article on Medium.
You’re hereby invited. 🙂
And for everyone who’s actively committing to achieving a goal here and now, good luck with your habit building! And wish me luck too!