Did you know that according to the University of Scranton a tremendous 92% percent of people who set New Year’s goals NEVER actually achieve them?

We live in a fast paced world, always looking for faster, bigger, better. We talk about multi-tasking, high-performance, 180 degree shifts, and overnight results.

Books, articles, blog posts and videos with convincing arguments from experts all around the world, talk about the importance of transforming your business and your life and how you need to create habits to accomplish the results you are looking for.

If habits are a road to success, it is safe to say that your life today is essentially the sum of your habits in each one of your areas of continuous development.

  • How healthy or unhealthy you are? Just take a look at your habits.
  • How happy or unhappy you are? Just take a look at your habits.
  • How successful or unsuccessful you are? Just take a look at your habits.

If breaking bad habits and creating new and beneficial ones will help you achieve your goals, then we must understand what a habit is and how can we create one.

According to Benjamin Gardner from the Department of Psychology in Oxford, the term habit refers to a process whereby contexts prompt action automatically, through activation of mental context–action associations learned through prior performances.

This means that in order to create a habit we must turn a goal-directed activity or behavior into an impulse-driven action with minimal cognitive effort, control or intention.

The key here is to turn a goal-specific activity into an effortless action.

The 1 in 60 rule and Mount Erebus Disaster

In air navigation, the 1 in 60 rule is a rule of thumb which states for every 60 miles of travel a 1° (one degree) difference in the coordinates will result in a 1 mile distance from the place you wanted to go.

On November 28, 1979 Air New Zealand’s Flight 901 (TE-901) left New Zealand for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica. Once they got there the pilots descended 2,000 feet (610 m) to give the passengers a better look. Even when both pilots where experienced, the aircraft flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board.

The initial investigation blamed the pilots for the crash, however later the investigation showed that the accident was caused by a 2 degree correction made to the coordinates the night before.

Only 2 degrees!

Habits are in many ways as the 1 in 60 rule; one goal-specific action no matter how small it is, if carried in the long term will make a huge difference to your life. Likewise a negative action may take you to an undesirable outcome.

Start by taking small actions that take you closer to your goal and it will eventually lead you there.

Lasting Change

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step – Lao Tzu

If habits are key to success, and the repetition of a goal-oriented activity creates a habit; then success comes from the repetition of positive goal-oriented activities carried in the long term.

It makes no sense then to focus on “creating a habit”, it is intangible and overwhelming. Now I focus on making consistent one degree shifts; small and positive goal-oriented activities and habits are the byproduct of those activities.

Here are 3 simple steps you can do today to start your path to success:

  1. Envision your goal
  2. Chunk it up in 3 to 5 habits to get there.
  3. Identify the one degree shift you need to start doing today to get to the first milestone.

Make sure that your one degree shift has the following characteristics:

  1. Be Specific. Remember “Goal-Specific” actions become habits not general ideas.
  2. Make it easy for you to start. Make sure you don’t need to buy a bunch of things or you need to do a lot of stuff to get started.
  3. Easy to measure. Complex processes are difficult to stick to in the long run.
  4. Make sure you can stick to it.

An example could be:

  1. Goal: Lose 10 pounds
  2. Chunk: Drink Healthier, Eat Healthier, and Exercise. There’s no point on going to the gym if you are still going to eat trash.
  3. One degree shift: Drink Healthier – Stop drinking soda and drink water instead.

One Degree Shift Characteristics: Drinking water instead of soda is specific, there’s no room for misinterpretation. It is also something you can start right now. It is easy for you to measure; did I drink soda? A simple yes no answer to that question will do. You can stick to drinking water in the long run, there’s no need to buy anything special, you can find water everywhere and it will always be a healthy choice.

Don’t overthink it and start today with your one degree shift.