How to start and stick with any new, daunting daily habit
Just admit it friends, YOU...ARE...LAZY!
“Excuse me! WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!?!”
Well actually...the truth is...we’re all lazy!
You wouldn’t be here if your ancestors hadn’t evolved some proclivity for idleness in their daily lives.
Laziness Is A Biological Survival Strategy
Look, we’re biologically programmed for laziness...it’s nature’s solution to the harsh energy balance problem we faced as hunter-gatherers thriving across the many stimulatively complex wild landscapes that make up our world.
In fact, if you examine most wild mammals, you’ll probably observe that their lifestyles rotate through cycles of short, high-intensity bursts followed by long periods of idleness…
...not just to recover from the intense stimuli that wild environments throw at them, but also to ensure that they complete the positive adaptation responses induced by the environment stressors. Such adaptations are important to increase your capacity to handle future waves of potentially greater environmental negativity.
So don’t feel bad...in certain respects, being lazy is good!
I’d be more worried about you if you were the type of neurotic person that never struggles to take on a new disciplined or intimidating daily habits.
You CAN Outsmart Your Idle Ways
BUT...just because you’re DNA evolved to be lazy most of the time doesn’t mean that you have to give in to your productivity killing, apathetic tendencies that always seem to sabotage your big goals.
Once you stop fighting your laziness with the futility of using “willpower”, you can instead be clever to outsmart your psychology to succeed at incorporating those positive habits you desire to IMPROVE YOUR LIFE!
WEDGING...NOT A Medieval Torture Device
The most effective method I’ve discovered to successfully engrain intimidating, daily disciplines into my life is through the strategy I like to call the WEDGING.
No, no, no...Wedging isn’t some weird torture tactic…
Instead it aims to take the pain out of pain in the ass new habits...quite the opposite of torture I think you’ll agree.
Wedging is simple really. Let me explain:
Take the intimidating habit you want to start and give it the smallest threshold for daily success possible.
For example, if you want to start reading every night before bed, give yourself the incredibly simple goal of...
...wait for it…
...just opening the book!
That’s all you have to do...even if you just finished a loooong day at work and your body, brain and eyeballs are SCREAMIN’ for sleep.
Just open your book for the win!
Now some nights, you might just open the book, close the book, turn out the lights and go to sleep. That’s fine...you still engaged with the habit that day. WINNING!
But most of the time, you’ll probably find that you actually read a little more than you thought you would, once the pages of the book parted open to your bookmark.
Wedging Works For Any Habit You Want To Cultivate
The key here is to short-circuit the activation energy needed to engage with the habit or discipline, making the mental time investment seem very small in your, as we’ve already established, innately lazy mind.
Once you start however, more often than not, it’s easy to do more of the desired habit than you expected.
You could do the same thing if you wanted to start a daily writing habit.
Most people give themselves some lofty, initial goal of writing several pages a day in their journal or computer…
But if you do that, they’ll come a day (sooner rather than later) where you’ll opt-out of the discipline, and then succumb to a complete breakdown from there.
Instead of going with an overly-ambitious initial goal, give yourself a tiny writing benchmark for daily success...like just typing out a single sentence per day…
...knowing most of the time, you’ll knock out more.
Remember, as humans, we have this innate behavioral tendency to be lazy...so don’t fight it, outsmart it!
Make The Goal So Tiny Your Mind Has No Excuse For Failure!
Your daily small victories will build momentum to the point where the new behavior establishes itself as a normal, everyday ritual (usually within 4 to 6 weeks in my experience). At that point, when it feels weirder to avoid the habit rather than complete it, feel free to start raising the bar for what you consider a daily win.
I call this method Wedging because, like the shape of a wedged object, the initial habit you add to your already hectic schedule is tiny, tiny, tiny.
But over time, the small activity engrains itself as the new normal while growing to become a bigger part of your daily life (without much effort). The habit starts to create greater and greater positive impact each day, as well as compound through time to help achieve the longer term skill set or goal you’re working towards.
Let’s Brainstorm Small Wins For Other Daily Disciplines
I’d love to hear your ideas on what habits you could start Wedging to help achieve your big, intimidating goals.
I look forward to reading about your new Wedge habit strategies below!
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P.P.S.: If you were wondering, I’ve used this Wedging Method to successfully start daily practices with the following:
Reading small daily win: open the book
Writing small daily win: write 2 sentences
Journaling small daily win: write down tomorrows to-do list
Meditating small daily win: 5 minutes
and Gymnastics Strength Training small daily win: start with the basic workouts...no matter how easy they seem