How To Form Habits Effortlessly – The Power Of The Compound Effect

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how to form habits effortlessly - The power of the compound effect

Have you ever try to form a new habit but fail multiple times? Me too. Unfortunately, our willpower is limited and this is the reason why we fail to follow through new habits or discipline ourself. What makes habits so powerful is that they require no or very limited willpower and allow us to accomplish way more things that we could if we were to rely solely on our willpower. In this article I show you how to form new habits effortlessly

The common mistake that we make is:

  • To implement too many habits at the same time
  • To build them in a way that requires too much willpower to be sustainable

Some successful people seem to have incredible discipline or willpower, but what really differentiate then from other people is that they understand the power of the compound effect and how small steps and daily habits can create great results in their life. The quality of your habits will greatly determine the quality of your life. That’s why it is important to master the process of forming habits.

The 21 days Myth

You probably heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. However, the reality is that it depends on what kind of habit you are trying to form and how much willpower it requires you. Simple habits like drinking a glass of water when you wake up can be formed in about 20 days but other habits might take up to 80 days or more. Be patient!

How To Form Habits Effortlessly

Consistency over intensity

Generally, what we want is habits we will stick to for the rest of our life or at least for a long period of time. However, often people are too focused on the short-term and want to see major changes quickly. They use too much willpower to try to maintain their new habits. Inevitably they fail. Diet is a perfect example of that situation. If you are to commit yourself for a health habit, a productivity habit or any other kind of habit for the rest of your life, who cares how small you start. What matters is consistency! Start small and do it every single day.

Implement a daily habit

What is the daily habit that would have the most impact on your life in the long run? How can you make it easy to follow through every day?

Examples of daily habits

  • Meditating
  • Drinking a cup of green tea
  • Eating an apple
  • Exercising
  • Reading self-help books or books in your field of expertise
  • Cleaning your place

You could choose to form the new habit of meditating everyday for 2 minutes if it sounds reasonable for you, or to start running for 3 minutes. It is entire up to you.

How to know how small you should start?

First be totally honest with yourself. You should be able to answer the following question by yes: “If I’m doing XX for XX min, would I be able to keep doing it everyday even when I’m sick, tired or busy?”

If it is so easy why most people don’t do it?

The answer is simple: because it is easy not to do.

If you don’t meditate for a week, nothing is going to happen to you, but if you do it consistently for years, the impact on your life will be huge. Similarly, if you don’t eat an apple a day, what’s the big deal? Nothing right? At least, in the short-term. What about in the long-term? What if eating an apple a day seems so easy to do that you decide to also drink a cup of green tea. Then, to put only one sugar in your coffee instead of two etc. What do you think will be the impact on your life of such a seemingly small and insignificant habit like eating an apple a day?

Attach positive emotions to your new habits

Starting small with a limited amount of effort that you are confident you can go through every day will make it easy for you to consistently keep building and reinforcing that new habit. You might even enjoy it! If you want to keep a habit for the rest of your life, what not try to enjoy it as much as possible. What you want to do is to condition yourself to associate positive feelings to your new habit.

Here is one you can do:

  • Make it a rule to feel as excited and happy as you can about what you are doing. It’s a great opportunity to improve your acting skills at the same time 🙂 Talk out loud to yourself and express how excited you are. Have fun.
  • Find a way to make whatever you are doing funny or enjoyable(be creative, try to find a new way every day)
  • Take a few seconds to celebrate and congratulate yourself each time to reinforce the positive association
  • Make a list of all the benefits that the new habit will bring in your life. Why is it beneficial to you? Don’t hesitate to look on internet to find even more benefits. Then, select the benefits that are the more appealing to you and remind yourself every day of those benefits while working on your habit
    • Ex: A few benefits of meditation: (see Is Meditation for Everyone? and Meditation For Busy People – How To Find Time In Your Schedule To Meditate)
      • Reduce stress
      • Increase happiness
      • Improve emotional stability
      • Increase concentration
      • Increase self-awareness
      • Increase creativity
      • Increase your energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy
      • Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
    •  Cleaning:
      • Increase self-esteem (“Self-esteem is the reputation you we acquire with ourselves”. When we have guests we clean our house. Why? Because we respect our guests. Treating ourselves as important guests in our home is a proof of self-respect)
      • Increase productivity (A clean room, a tidy desk and a well-organized computer creates a distraction-free environment and foster productivity)

These are just examples. I’m sure you can find many benefits you will get from forming whatever new habits you want to implement in your life.

What is the trigger for your habit?

There is always something that triggers our habits. For instance, waking up is a trigger. What do you do when you first wake up in the morning? What do your do after taking a shower? What do you do when you first arrive at work? Decide now what would be the trigger for your new habit?

Ex: Taking a shower and getting dressed is my trigger for my cleaning habit

Create a chain of habits

You can create a chain of habits by connecting habits with each others. One habit becomes the trigger for another habit.

Ex: In my case finishing cleaning is the trigger for boiling water for my green tea. Boiling water is the trigger for taking my vitamins, having my green tea ready on my desk is the trigger for meditating etc… After a while everything will become automatic.

It’s your turn now

  1. Choose a habit that would have a positive impact on your life
  2. Set up the rules so that you feel confident enough to follow through every day
  3. Make a list of all the benefits that the new habit will provide you with
  4. Select the trigger for your habit
  5. Do it everyday

Don’t implement more than 2 or 3 habits at the same time or you won’t be able to sustain those habits. If you think you can manage it and that it would be beneficial to you, progressively extend the time you spend running, meditating or doing whatever you are doing. Or you might want to add a cup of green tea to accompany your apple. When you feel like you really master a habit, you can form a new habit and so on. Don’t forget to create a chain of habits whenever you can.

If you want some more help to implement your new habits you can also check out my book on habits here or watch the video below:

What new habits do you want to create in your life? Share it with me by leaving a comment below. Thank you 🙂

See also: Is Meditation for Everyone?

Meditation For Busy People – How To Find Time In Your Schedule To Meditate

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The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

The 5 Commandments of Personal Development

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