The power of habit

Building solid habits is the key to creating long-term consistency in any practice.

Every morning, I immediately brew my coffee and read the news while eat breakfast. Then I spend an hour writing. Every day. Weekends included.

The result is that I can write very quickly. Given a topic or prompt, I can usually write a few hundred words in a sitting without much trouble. This is a skill that comes in handy professionally, as I can push out system documentation prolifically. It also helps with blogging, as a quick post takes just a few minutes of focused effort.

But this skill is not one that comes naturally to me. It’s one I’ve worked to build diligently over the past several years.

Building a new habit

Habits are easy to create. We create new habits all the time. Unfortunately, it’s bad habits that we create most often.

Binge-watching TV. Eating too much. Sleeping past our alarm. Leaving clothing unfolded in the basket.

The behaviors we do most often become our default. For better or worse, we’re often lazy and the habits we form most readily are those born from our laziness.

If there’s a skill you want to master and turn into a habit, it will take work. You’ll need to dedicate time regularly to practicing your new skill. Set aside time every day to practice and, in time, it will become a habit.

Go for a short run every morning. Write a few words in a journal every day. Meditate before starting your daily kick-off call. Whatever habit it is you want to build, you need to work on it regularly.

But, once that habit is established, you’ll be surprised just how little effort it takes to exercise it. You’ll also experience a weird reversal – it will begin to feel strange when you don’t participate.

Thus is the power of habit. We do things automatically and with minimal effort. Harness this and work to establish positive habits that drive you closer to where you want to be. Professionally, and in everyday life.