When we first started recycling in our home, it took some time to get the hang of it. Something as simple as making sure the right things make it to recycle bin required discipline and a conscious decision. More than once we’d pull something out of the trash can to put it in the recycle bin and visa versa. We’ve done it so long now that it has become second nature. We don’t even think about it.
That’s the beauty of habit. Once you learn a routine, your brain goes into automatic mode, expending far less energy to complete the task. The key then, to doing more with less, is to habitualize your most important goals. And you can implement your own recycling program to get you there:
REDUCE. Identify your most important goal. Since habits take time to develop, think about long-term, not short-term goals. These are the objectives you might like to complete in a year, or two, or ten. Are you thinking about a new career? Relocating to another geography? Launching a new business? Writing a book? Achieving magnificent goals such as these require a number of action steps, many of which can be habitualized.
REUSE. Look at your goal and list the activities that are required to accomplish that goal. Now, identify one that, if done every day, will make the other activities easier and get you closer to your goal. This is what’s known as a keystone habit. Whether it’s a bit of research, or writing, or reading, find the habit that you can do every day; even if for just twenty minutes. Then start doing it.
RECYCLE. You can benefit from the good habits others keep. Research has shown that just being with others who are pursuing habits you desire for yourself increases your likelihood to develop them. That’s because seeing their discipline triggers what’s known as the Mirror Neuron System in your brain. It’s what allows you to empathize with others and, in this case, to imagine that you are taking the same action as they are. So, go ahead, recycle someone else’s habit to keep your own on track.
But here’s a warning. And it’s where many people go wrong with New Year resolutions. Don’t choose more than one new habit to develop at a time. Forming new habits consumes willpower over a period of time. The time it takes to instill a new habit may vary from 19 days to as much as 66 days, depending on the habit. Your likelihood of success is greatest when you focus on integrating one habit for at least six weeks.
What’s your next new habit?(This post is an excerpt from my ebook, 10 Strategies to Get More Done. Subscribe in the sidebar to get your copy.)