Have you ever thought about adopting new, more productive habits?
When we read stories of great successes and massive achievements, we often feel motivated to take action in our own lives. I think this is a healthy reaction to the stimuli.
But what we don’t count on is how hard it can be to maintain those new practices, whether it’s working out, meditating, blogging, or otherwise.
As James Clear pointed out in a recent article titled The Paradox of Behavior Change, people tend to snap back to their old habits, like rubber bands, when they attempt to make too radical of a shift in their lives.
In Clear’s worlds:
In order for change to last, we must work with the fundamental forces in our lives, not against them. Nearly everything that makes up your daily life has an equilibrium — a natural set point, a normal pace, a typical rhythm. If we reach too far beyond this equilibrium, we will find ourselves being yanked back to the baseline.
So, the only way to make a lasting improvement is to take things slowly.
The Best Way to Change for the Better
Just like you, I’ve tried at times to make massive changes in my life. There are a few rare occasions I can point to when this worked out, such as when I instantly overcame my fear of dogs. But that’s another story for another time, and somewhat miraculous when I think about it.
Based on Clear’s studies, it’s safe to say the progress we make in life usually doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We are rewarded for initiating — and maintaining — smaller changes over a longer period of time.
It might seem like focusing on one thing at a time isn’t productive, and possibly even a fool’s errand. But as my friend Amos Bracewell says, one vertical affects every vertical. For instance, if you make an effort to improve your health, your energy levels will increase. When you have more energy, you can invest more of yourself into your career or business. There’s a waterfall effect. It trickles down from the top.
So, focusing on one change at a time produces small wins that quickly accumulate into bigger wins. You might think you’re improving one aspect of your career, but in reality you’re improving many aspects at the same time. Sometimes the benefits are logical, like the example I gave on improving your health. But sometimes there are unexpected or unforeseen benefits too.
Stacking Small Wins
If you could only focus on one thing right now, what would it be? What would you improve about your life? Where can you get a small win, even today?
People might knock the small win, but when you reach your goals, you gain confidence. It doesn’t matter how small it is. So, if you’re going to make the rules for your own life and career, you might as well make the game winnable.
I’m the founder of The Music Entrepreneur HQ, a resource for musicians, creatives, and music business entrepreneurs. And, I’m looking to help you get more wins, which is why I’m currently working on my second book.
I’m also the co-host of a new podcast called Using Your Power, along with my co-host Maveen Kaura of Discover Your Life Today. We dare to go deeper into life’s big questions, and yes, winning is a definite theme on our show.