Level-up - The Power of Virtuous Cycles
One of the nice things is that good habits put together intelligently can actually help you do and achieve more.
You can try and transform your life and build good habits by spending all your willpower on picking up habits that are good for you but you hate to do. I.E.
- Starting a diet by trying to eat 500 calories a day
- Starting to work out by running 10 miles a day and spending 2 hours a day in the gym
- Trying to learn a subject by cramming for 24 hours straight
While these are kind of good habits, they aren't sustainable and brute force is very rarely the best way to pick up habits or transform yourself.
However if you start small with little positive changes and you start to stack them together you can produce trans-formative results.
Say, like many, you are tired, out of shape and not happy with how your career is going. You could try for a dramatic transformation and most likely, fail, feel worse than you started and may have picked up an injury or two. However you can start doing small things immediately that will give you a better chance of making a transformation. This can act on two levels.
Say you set for yourself one small goal in 4 areas with the aim to do it for a month
- Recuperation - try to get 30 more minutes of sleep a night by going to bed 30 minutes earlier
- Diet - Try to add 30 grams of protein to your diet every morning or focus on having a simple healthy breakfast every day such as the Tim Ferriss 3 minute breakfast
- Exercise - Try to walk 1000 extra steps a day or do one set of push ups every morning
- Work - Try to read a chapter a night of a book that will be good for your career
These are pretty small goals, and reasonable to start up with, they also have the advantage of if you start them, you will probably have more energy during the day. Lack of sleep leads to both low energy and higher body weight so that one alone should get you in the right direction. Same with improving your diet or getting a little bit of exercise for your body or your brain. All of these little goals will accomplish 2 things, get you closer to where you want to be and give you more energy to get there.
So after a month you level up - try adding 4 more goals on for the month
- Recuperation - add another 30 minutes a night by going to bed 30 minutes earlier (do this one until you get to 7-9 hours of sleep a night, your optimal sleep time may vary but is generally 8 to 9 hours a night for people who exercise intensely, and 7-8 for everyone else)
- Diet - Try to keep track of what you eat every day for lunch, and see if you can make 1 or 2 of those meals healthier than your normal (instead of a chicken parm sub 5 days a week, one day a week get a turkey sandwich)
- Exercise - Try to walk 1000 extra steps a day or do one set of push ups and one set of body weight squats every morning
- Work - Try to read a chapter a night of a book that will be good for your career and one night a week do an exercise or activity suggested by the book (learn by doing)
Since you haven't added anything crazy, and you have more energy from your new good habits, this should again produce the results of more energy and closer to your targets.
Keep this going. It is great if you can do these every day, but if you miss a day, don't stress and just get back on track. Missing is not an excuse to throw everything away. Keep your average speed high missing a day won't kill you. Giving up if you miss a day and decide what the hell - and go on a binge that will kill you and your new habits. Consistency and growth is what we are aiming for not perfection.
The more you are able to practice these incremental small changes, the more you will be able to accompish and before you know you will have leveled-up!