Small steps with a process to learn a new habit

When we have a new goal in mind, most of the time we are very motivated. We want to get started and do it all and reach our goal fast.

If it is regular exercise we are after, we want to go to the gym everyday of the week and workout one hour each time, do it again the next day and the next and the next.

If it is diet, we are all in on a radical diet where we eat close to nothing on a daily basis.

If it is study for school, or getting more organized for work we lock ourselves up for 8 hours to finish that book or until we get that office organized.

In the end, these radical approaches are always short-lived.

If we have not exercised regularly in the last 6 months and then start working out rigorously our body will ache in places we did not even know. We will also be very tired the next day. Who can live on an 800 calorie diet for the long term? How does an entire semester’s study material fit in a weekend? And how does an office that has never had a system for filing and organization get cleaned up in a sustainable way in 8 hours?

The aggressive approaches are short-lived because:

1) We are changing too many things at the same time while changing nothing from our daily schedule/life. The changes we are making should be sustainable and realistic to fit our daily schedules and plans.

2) In Ryan Holiday’s “The Daily Stoic” he talks about elite athletes in collegiate and professional sports following a philosophy known as the “The Process.” He explains the philosophy as created by University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, who taught his players to ignore the big picture – important games, winning championships, the opponent’s lead – and focus instead on doing the absolutely smallest things well – practicing with full effort, finishing a specific play, converting on a single possession. Ryan Holiday explains: A season lasts months, a game lasts hours, catching up might be four touchdowns away, but a single play is only a few seconds. And games and seasons are constituted by seconds.

If you follow the Process in your life – assembling the right actions in the right order, one right after another – you too will do well, Ryan Holiday says.

What are the smallest, realistic changes you can make on a daily basis toward reaching your goals today?

Aycha Williams

National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach