Here we are, Friday the 13th.
Seems an apropos day to reflect on how those new year’s resolutions are going.
If you’re like most Americans, the answer is not so well.
Start strong, lose momentum, give up.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
How about a different paradigm this year?
How about keeping the end goal in mind, but just working on one habit?
- Resolution: I will lose weight this year.
- Habit to Work on: Nothing shall pass these lips after 7:00 pm
- Resolution: I will get my office organized.
- Habit to Work on: I will tidy up the piles on my desk before I leave every day.
- Resolution: I will have a better relationship with my spouse.
- Habit to Work on: I will say “I love you” before I leave in the morning.
Those habits may seem like baby steps to the end goal, but to our delicate human psyche, they are everything!
In his book, The ONE Thing, Gary Keller talks about the Domino Effect and that it’s bigger than you think it is.
What is it?
It’s the idea that one small success will lead to the next small success, and that will lead to the next, like dominoes falling, until you reach that end goal.
“I will tidy up the piles on my desk everyday” may lead you to “I will file 3 pieces of paper every day”. The filed papers may lead you to “Every Friday at lunch, I will go though my files until I purge one that is no longer useful”. One day, you’ll look around and realize that your office is actually organized.
If you like digging deeper, there’s the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, In it, Duhigg gets into the nuts and bolts (or synapses and grey matter) of our brain and explains why habits exist and how they can be changed. It’s engaging and well written, with a lot of research and anecdotes blended in. Almost a must read for left-brained people (you know who you are!).
And for our right-brained, big picture, creative folks, there’s the higher order concept of willpower. In the book Willpower, Baumeister, a psychologist and Tierney, a NY Times writer, team up to write a very captivating and digestible book. There are a lot of Big Ideas in this book, but one of my favorites is the idea that willpower is a limited resource and, when its drained, people have less willpower for whatever task is coming next in their lives.
And last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention James Clear’s treatise on habits, The Habits Guide. This free resource opened my eyes to how much a role systems play in helping us stick to good habits. Habits become habits when we do them automatically, without a lot of conscious thought. The systems we set up, especially when establishing a new, good habit, can make or break our early success, which is crucial for the Domino Effect to happen.
See! it’s all related!
I have several New Year’s Resolutions this year and their corresponding list of behaviors I’m going to make habits.
Among them is the habit of reading every night, from a book that will help get me there because sometimes I just don’t know WHAT to do.
What resolution can you resurrect on this Friday the 13th and break down into one small habit to put you on the path?
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: I was going to quit all my bad habits. I really, really was! Until I realized that nobody likes a quitter!