The Power of Daily Habits
“It’s not about intensity, it’s about consistency… if all you do is go to the dentist twice a year, your teeth will fall out. You have to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes…”
– Simon Sinek
Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits. How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits. How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits. What you repeatedly do makes you the person you are. It is so easy to focus on defining moments and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis. The daily choices we make shape us. Change your habits and you’ll change your life.
Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, or writing a book, we put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
What actually works is showing up consistently and making small, sustainable changes. Improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. A tiny improvement can make a huge difference over time: if you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.
In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse. As time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don't. Small choices don't make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.
Or to look at it another way, we can see that the line is an average of all the data points (days). In other words, the overall trend is affected by the sum of all of the data points (days) not just one by itself.
One point doesn’t define the trend.
We all have bad days. We all make mistakes. We all face obstacles.
But, those bad days don’t define us. What defines us is what we do in response to those tough days. What defines us is what we do day-in and day-out. What defines us is our action over time. So no matter what happens. No matter how bad of a day you had. No matter what you’re dealing with.
“Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”
How to Build a Consistent Habit
The process of developing consistent habits is quite simple:
Pick something desirable. If you repeatedly do this activity, what will it grow into? Is that what you want?
Do just a minute or two of it. You can’t build it all up in the next few days. That’s a good recipe for failure. Just do 1-2 minutes of it today. Smile as you do it.
Set a daily reminder. Let’s say you want to do it every day at about 6:30 a.m. Set a reminder for that time, and make it a priority to do it each day, just for a minute or two.
Watch it grow. If you just do it repeatedly, it will grow. Don’t force it. Keep the repeated activity as small as possible for as long as you can if you want it to grow (it sounds paradoxical, but it works).
Things to Remember
Change takes time. We are defined over the course of an entire lifetime – don’t let a few bad days, weeks or even months hold you down.
Believe in what you’re doing. Keeping your ‘why’ in mind makes it much easier to keep showing up, even on the tough days.
There are only two things we have complete control over in this life: attitude and effort. Wake up each morning knowing that you get to make a conscious decision about your attitude and your effort. Choose to have a good day. Choose to see the best in people. Choose to run the day and give your absolute best effort to everything you do.
Ask for help. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve been down in the dumps and I’ve felt like I was alone in my struggle and suffering. No matter how small or large the issue, problem, setback, don’t be afraid to lean on your support network for a little or big pick-me-up; there is absolutely no shame in that. [On that note, if anyone out there (whether I know you or not) needs someone to talk to, or any encouragement, please feel free to reach out to me – I’d be honoured and more than happy to help in any way I can!]
And a few things to watch out for.
Don’t worry about doing a lot of it. As you repeat this new habit, don’t worry about growing it. That’s a good way to fail. Most people fail because they try to do too much too quickly. Just a minute of meditation is enough; just one press-up is enough. Start small.
Don’t worry about missing a day or two. This is another reason people fail — they miss a day or two, then just give up. If you miss a day or two or three, just start again. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.
Don’t try lots of new habits at once. Do one per week at the most. One a month is even better.