Over the past five years, I have led my company's growth--enough to land a spot on the Inc. 500 list. I also wrote a best-selling book, delivered several keynote speeches, authored hundreds of blog posts--all while getting fitter, calmer, and spending more time with my family.
Some people ask how I've managed to accomplish all these things at once. The secret is this: Developing good habits. Habits are one of the most important tools you can have to be successful as whatever you want to do.
However, developing those good habits can be challenging. In fact, I struggled for years to develop them. I have found two effective techniques to develop and keep good habits.
1: The 30-second rule.
This technique has two parts. The first is to change your result-oriented goals into action-oriented goals. For instance, instead of resolving to lose 40 pounds, resolve that you will hit the gym twice a week for 30 minutes each.
What did you just do? You shifted focus from a result-oriented goal to an action-oriented goal. This way you automatically assumed greater control over the situation. After all, results are beyond your control, but the action isn't.
The second part of the 30-second rule is to break a new habit into its lowest unit or denominator. So rather than setting monumental goals--which are so very unrealistic--you begin with the simplest targets. Don't tell yourself, "I will meditate for an hour" or, "I will do 50 pushups" on the first day. Set a more reasonable target and build from there. For example, start by meditating for 30 seconds or doing one pushup.
The great scientist Isaac Newton says in his First Law of Motion that an object will remain at rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless acted upon by an external force. This technique helps you overcome inertia.
You are pillion-riding on a bike and the rider suddenly stops. How does your body react? It is thrust forward. Why? Because the body was in motion and its inertia wanted to keep it in motion.
Think of this as a frame of reference. All you need to do is just start an action in the simplest way. When you aim as low as one pushup or 30 seconds of meditation, you will most likely end up doing five minutes of meditation or 10 pushups, due to the inertia/momentum generated.
However, when you aim too big with a new habit, say, 20 minutes of meditation, you may feel the pressure to attend to something else during that time, such as a meeting or another obligation. And you have more incentive to simply skip it. This way, a great would-be habit is nipped in the bud.
2: Put success right in your path.
To form a new habit, you need to make it easier for yourself by putting the resources right in your path--visible and easily accessible.
Say you want to be really good at the violin. Keep the violin where your TV remote is instead of in the closet. This way, you will pick up the violin at least a fair percentage of times that you pick the remote.
If you want to create a morning jogging routine for yourself, keep your jogging gear right next to the side of the bed. Better still, sleep in your jogging clothes. Keep your shoes on the doormat. To repeat, put success right in your physical path.
It is such a simple technique of deliberately creating an environment for success.