Habits. They come in good and bad varieties. I have a lot of bad ones. I get on this crazy bandwagon every once in a while and I want to fix everything at once – negative thinking, my diet, my exercise routine, my time management, my organization – or really lack of – to name a few. (Yes, I’m an overachiever.) I make a plan – outlining steps for each area – and I fail – miserable at all of them. It was all too much!
And it was too much. Trying to change too much at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
The key to successful change according to Leo Babauta of Zen Habits is change only one habit at a time. “This is incredibly important — most people ignore it because they underestimate how much focus it takes to actually stick to a new habit. It’s easy to start a habit, or even 5 of them at once. Sticking to them is another story. Please note that this is one habit period — don’t think you can do one fitness habit, one social habit, one work habit, etc. One habit only. Do not break this rule.”
Equally important – start small. Here is Leo’s prescription: “Most people are optimistic and try to make too big a change. There’s so many reasons to start small with a habit change that I can’t even list them all, but let’s take some of the most important. If you start small, the discomfort of change isn’t overwhelming. If you start small, you overcome the problem of inertia and not getting started. You also overcome the problem of burning through all your enthusiasm, or using up your willpower reserves. You make it impossible to say no, impossible to fail, if you start small. Some examples: meditate for 2 minutes, just get out the door and run for a minute, eat 1 vegetable a day, smoke 1 time less per day.”
This is one of the reasons why when I started my One Little Thing Project, I set the bar low. I only had to write just one thing each day. Some days it is easy to write lots of them. Some days, not so much. I am trying to build the habit of focusing on the positive. Each day it gets easier because I started small.