One of my core beliefs is that if you do something enough, you can make it a habit. Usually people think of bad habits like eating bad food, or smoking, or picking your nose. But there are also good habits like going to the gym, getting up early and washing behind your ears. The more you consciously act to do these things, the more UNCONSCIOUS it becomes. Then you’re doing them without even thinking because, hey, you’re used to it, and that’s just the way things go.
That’s a powerful tool. That’s how the mind works. If you can set out a roadplan of good habits to adopt, and start consciously doing them one by one until they’re automatic behavior, eventually you’ll have a pretty awesome portfolio of good habits.
One of those habits I’ve started adopting is Incremental Progress. If you do a little bit of something good whenever you can, you’ll end up with something great, and you’ll be surprised how easy it was to get there.
Here’s an example:
If every time you go into your kitchen, you wash a couple dishes and put them in the dishwasher, eventually you’ll have a full load you can wash. You won’t have to sit down for 20 or 30 minutes and clear out two sinks full of dishes and make a huge ordeal out of it. By just doing a little bit at a time, you accomplish a big job, in small increments. You never really noticed doing it, but there it is, all done. It’s a nice feeling.
I think getting into the habit of doing that with EVERYTHING can be a huge boost to being successful.
Here’s some ideas:
- Spend a little extra time thinking about a gift for a loved one, to make it special.
- Spend another fifteen minutes on a piece of artwork, to make it shine.
- Put a little bit more effort into cooking yourself dinner, to make it that much tastier.
- Do a few more pushups before you rest, to see how far you can push it.
- Stay a little longer at a party and try to make a new friend before you leave, for the sheer pleasure of it.
There are all sorts of little things like that you can do. A little bit more effort applied over time, consistently, can make a huge difference. Case in point: Grand Canyon! Not everything good has to be some huge damn ordeal, or an EVENT. Take something you normally do, sit back for a second, then add an extra little bit of love to make it special. It never takes that long, it doesn’t need to be hard, and a little bit of something is better than nothing at all.
The more you do it, the more it’ll become a habit, and one day you’ll wake up and realize:
- You give truly thoughtful gifts to people you care about, and they appreciate it.
- You’re a better artist, and you’re respected for it.
- You’re a great cook, and you love doing it even more.
- You can do a lot of pushups, and you’re a lot stronger than you thought.
- You get along with anyone anywhere, and you make friends everywhere you go.
Substitute anything you do normally with this. When you look at a dirty countertop at home, just clean it while you’re thinking of it. If you’re emptying a litterbox and see a persistently sticky clump, give it a good scrape instead of leaving it. If you’re making a pot of coffee, spend an extra few seconds measuring out the best amount of coffee grounds to use.See, I don’t think anyone famous or great is great because of any one thing they did. Sure, they may have done amazing things at one point or another, but you never hear about all the buildup to it. I think success in all its forms comes from a LOT of little things, little incremental achievements.
The way I think about it is this:
It’s all a game of odds. Every time you put a little bit more effort into something, you increase your chances of a favorable outcome. If you do a LOT of little things, you increase your chances of a favorable outcome by a LOT. Never overlook small things just because you’re too focused on making big, earth-moving events. Everything counts, even if it’s just a little. And if you can reach a critical mass of little things, big things will happen. Most people just don’t think of it like that… and you can use that to your advantage.
If you can make things like incremental progress a habit, you’ll get in the habit of simply automatically kicking ass and not even realize you’re doing it.
Wouldn’t that be nice?