“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit,” said Aristotle. This wise Greek philosopher understood that in order for us to become successful and talented in any skill or area we must develop habits. It is through our habits that we can learn to accomplish difficult tasks and benefit from its rewards. When we develop habits to improve areas of our lives we don’t only finish major tasks with little frustration, but we also become better people.
What are Habits and How They Affect Us
There are tasks and routines that we as humans do every day. There are some people who jog for an hour every morning. There are others who walk their dogs every time after breakfast. The man jogging and the woman with the dog both have one thing in common. They have developed a habit.
A habit is defined as a routine behavior that is practiced regularly and usually unconsciously. They are the building blocks of our everyday life. For example, I want to finish and publish an eBook every month for the next 12 months. In order for me to do this, I decided to develop a habit of writing a minimum 500 words a day. If I stick to this habit, I can finish my eBooks in no time. I find writing easy and much more fun to do because I plan and act on it every day. It’s through my habit that I call myself a writer.
There are many successful people that use habits to improve their skills:
● Maya Angelou, the author of ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’, was so dedicated to her writing habit that she rented a hotel room to write. She wrote from 7 AM to 2 PM every day.
● The Beatles played their instruments over 300 times over four years in the same German Concert Hall.
● Lydia Gilbert, the co-founder of Dia&Co, improves her leadership and other business skills by spending hours every night watching videos of speeches, and interviews of the people she admires.
Bad Habits Vs. Good Habits
Habits are powerful without the feel of being powerful. This can be a blessing and a curse.
For example, if every day after work you and a co-worker go to a bar to drink alcohol and eat high-calorie food, you will soon gain a lot of weight and endanger your health. This is a bad habit that is harming you and not progressing you to a positive goal. You don’t think much about its negative consequence because you do it without major effort.
However, a bad habit can be changed to a good habit. Instead of going to a bar after work, you and your co-worker decide to work out at the gym to lose weight and eat healthy lunches afterward.
Even though you aren’t defined by your habits, you can change them to bring more positivity and success to your life. But before you can start on a habit, you must identify what part of your life needs improving and any goals that you want to accomplish.
How to Pick the Best Habit
Step 1: Identify What You Need to Improve
You can’t develop a good habit if you can’t find a bad habit to change or a goal to fulfill. This step focuses on self-reflection. You can start by writing what a normal day or week for you is like and identify areas of your life that affect you negatively and needs changing. Another tactic is that you can start setting goals in various parts of your career, business, or life.
Example: Angelina owns a marketing consultation firm but she struggles to find clients. She wants to find more prospects and earn more leads. So she decides to perform more cold-calling and emailing. She also wants to build her online presence through blogging and social media.
Step 2: Pick Ideal Habits or Micro-Goals
A habit is an act of performing a task every day but a micro-goal is the act of doing what is minimally necessary to reach a bigger goal every day. A habit can become a micro-goal. For example, me writing every day is a habit that I acquired over time. It’s also a micro-goal because it’s a step to completing a larger task, to write an eBook.
Now that Angelina has identified the parts of her business that she wants to improve, she must set a series of important but attainable habits or micro-goals she can perform every day to reach her major goals:
1st Goal: Improve prospecting skills and gain 20 more clients
Habit or Micro-Goal: Every afternoon I send 1 cold email and 1 cold phone call.
2nd Goal: Build my online presence and email list
Habit: I publish a 200-word blog post every three days and publish social media posts on Instagram and Facebook every day.
Angelina shouldn’t strive to accomplish big goals at the beginning of her journey. She must start small and build on them later.
Now you have an understanding of what a habit is and how to pick one, in the next step, you’ll learn how to develop a routine to make sure your habits are always