״Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.״
James Clear, Atomic Habits.
The book Atomic Habits has completely changed my perspective on habits. It has made me believe in the power of small adjustments, consistency, and our body's ability to adapt to changes and challenges. It's like a perfect dance between my body and soul.
To make a habit last, there are certain guidelines to follow. The most important one, which I had neglected until reading this book, is that the habit must be easy (rule #3). I used to think that easy habits weren't worth holding on to, since anyone could do them. I wanted to be extraordinary, so I thought I had to aim higher. Now, I understand that being consistent with the simple stuff is the most difficult and important thing in life.
James Clear also mentions Jerry Seinfeld's method for his comedy writing routine: "Never break the chain". This meant writing a new joke every day, no matter what. Quality was less important than quantity. In the long run, this is the most reliable assumption. It's especially true for professionals, but also for anyone trying to get better. You can't know if you're making progress unless you can see it.
Therefore, I shifted my goal from setting lofty goals to setting daily goals and marking them as complete. I started with simple habits like "Make Bed", "Drink Water when Wake Up", "Brush Teeth Before Going to Bed", and "Study French in Duolingo for 5 minutes". These were habits I could definitely commit to. I created a "Journal" environment in my Notion app, with a template for each day's note. It included habit trackers and a space to write about the day.
I set two main rules for myself:
No habits can be left undone for more than two days in a row. If I don't complete a certain habit for more than two days, it means I didn't set it up correctly. Maybe it's too hard, or maybe I don't care enough about it.
The overall daily completion rate must be greater than 50%. As mentioned in Atomic Habits, you don't have to achieve 100% all the time, but the majority of the time.
I accepted that my mood is a result of my thoughts and actions in a given time. Even if I don't understand my mood sometimes, I declared that if I complete more than 50% of my daily habits, I should be proud of myself. This means I'm doing things that matter to me and make me feel better and happier.
For me, a good feeling requires effort. A good rest feels good only if you have something to rest from. If I'm uncomfortable with myself, it means I have to change something. A change is something that lasts. One way to make a lasting change is to commit to a new habit.
As time passed, I added and removed habits. I reflect on them weekly and modify as needed. Currently, my habits list looks like this:
To really integrate new habits into your life, start slow and easy. Be patient as progress will come once your mind and body become familiar with the actions. For example, if you want to start reading (assuming you don't read at all now), set a habit of reading for just one minute a day or one page. It sounds easy, but that's the point. Prove that you can complete such an easy task for a week. Don't raise the bar. Just be patient and let progress come naturally. Build your chain day by day, week by week. Eventually, you'll have something to be proud of and your mindset will change completely.