Building Habits

I just finished reading the book Atomic Habits. It’s a great book, very easy to read and very practical. 

It helps me reframe the way I see myself building habits, cultivating self-discipline and creating my own environment for success.

Years ago when I started learning about meditation, I went through what probably many people go through. I couldn’t sit still for more than 5 minutes. I couldn’t hold a consistent practice. I’d meditate for one day and stop for 2 months. You know how it goes. 

But then I heard the best advice I got for meditation and for building any habits – Start with 1-minute meditation. 

Chiameng-de, an early pioneer at Google, now teaching meditation and mindfulness introduces this 1-minute meditation method. The idea is to make it so easy that you can’t say no. The key to building any habit is consistency. We can’t expect to have a fit body only going to the gym once in a while or whenever we feel like it. We see the results by consistently putting in the effort and time. 10 pushups a day is better than 100 pushups a month. 

In Atomic Habits, James Clear also makes that very clear. One of the principles is to make a habit so easy that you can’t miss it. For example, meditating for one minute. So often when we try to start a new habit, we want to build a perfect habit from the get-go. We want to go from never working out, to going to the gym every day for an hour. Or having never meditated to meditating for 30 minutes every day. We might be able to gather some will and determination to kickstart the habit this way for a day, a week or even a month. But most of the time, this method is not sustainable and we fall back to our old ways in no time. 

James Clear says, standardize to optimize. When we want to start a new habit, try to make it as simple as possible at the beginning and then optimize from there. 

The one-minute meditation helped me build a meditation practice. That was when I was able to keep this practice consistently and ultimately enjoy the benefits that it has to bring. 

Last night, I went through my phone and rearranged my apps to create an environment on my phone that supports my lifestyle. 

I also downloaded a habit tracker to track a few habits that I want to build and I fool-proved them to help myself stay consistent with them and make them enjoyable to do. I wrote down 5 habits to start keeping track: Yoga, Meditation, Writing, Guitar and French. 

All of these habits were scheduled into my days in bite-sized chunks. Yoga – 3 times a week, 5 minutes. Meditating – every day, 5 minutes. Writing – every day, 100 words. French – twice a day, 5 minutes each time. Guitar – every day, 5 minutes. 

I want to make my habits so easy that I can’t say no to them and don’t weigh me down when I think about them. 

Most of us know many obstacles or hardships that we perceive we have are mostly in our head. When I think about writing 5 pages every day, it seems ‘big’ in my head. Hence, I feel stressed just thinking about it and it stops me from actually doing it. So I set the goal to write 100 words. Now I am at 553 words. 

This idea of ‘making it easy for myself’ is counterintuitive. Many times we think we need to hold ourselves to a high standard so we set the bar very high for ourselves to reach. But what I’ve found is that when I make a goal, a habit, a task easy for myself, I tend to excel in them more. 

‘Design the system for my worst days. Not my best days.’

I feel like nowadays we have a habit of making things hard for ourselves. It’s almost like making something easy for ourselves will be seen as a crime. It seems like what a failure does. But in reality, it’s the opposite. 

Do you have any habits or things that you’ve been wanting to do but just can’t get around to it?

How do you simplify, fool-proof it and make it easy for yourself to achieve? You got this!

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