Updated: Nov 14, 2020
We are what we repeatedly do. If you begin to read about successful people one after another, patterns emerge. and one pattern that seems to rule over all others is consistency. If you take any art, sport, or other endeavor, the sustained top performers are the ones who show up and hone their craft more than anyone else. Isaac Asimov wrote nearly 400 books, many of them best sellers. Michael Phelps has 23 Olympic Gold Medals. How did they do it?
Asimov wrote six hours a day, every day, for decades. Phelps swims six hours a day, six times a week. Now our odds of being the next Asimov or Phelps are almost infinitesimal, but if we could achieve even one percent of their success, that would be a life worth living (that's still four books, and maybe a... bronze medal?) and all it takes is the right habits.
Let's build a habit
All behaviors are initiated by the desire to solve a problem, and to create a solution. Our experience of a problem can be divided into two phases:
When you're thirsty, the cue might be a dry mouth, it's a signal that something needs to change. The craving then is not for water, but for the relief of your parched throat.
Our experience of a solution can be divided into these next two phases:
The response is what action you take to resolve the craving, in this case it's probably reaching for that sweet, sweet Hydro Flask. The reward is the feeling you get when you relieve the craving; that resounding "Ahhhh" sound we all make when that first gulp of water goes down.
These four stages make a loop that looks like this:
The powerful thing about this loop is that it speeds up. Your brain remembers how water quenched thirst, so next time your mouth feels dry, you begin automatically searching for water.
The power of this acceleration cannot be overstated; It means that if you can manage to drag yourself through that first workout, or that first early morning wake up time, or that first blog post, you've already taken the hardest step.
The more victories you have in forming a habit, the easier it gets to win.