Many people including myself included, have multiple areas of life they would like to improve. For example. I would like to reach more people with my writing, be able to swim more laps at the gym and practice mindfulness more consistently. Those are just a few of the goals I find desirable and you probably have a long list yourself.
The problem is, even if we are committed to working hard on our goals, our natural tendency is to revert back to our old habits at some point. Making a permanent lifestyle change is really difficult.
My pastor is starting a one thing group. That will make these difficult lifestyle changes a little easier. As you’ll see, the approach to mastering many areas of life is possible
Too Many Good Intentions
If you want to master multiple habits and stick to them for good, then you need to figure out how to be consistent.
How can you do that?
Here is one of the more robust findings on how to actually follow through with you goals.
Research has shown us that we are 2X more likely to stick with our habits if we make a specific plan for when, where, and how we will perform the behavior. For example, in one study it asked people to fill out this sentence: During the week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on a certain day at this time at this place.
The study found that people who filled out this sentence were 2X more likely to actually exercise compared to a group who did not make plans for their future behavior. These are called implementation intentions because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behavior.
These Implementation intentions only work if you focus on one thing at a time. People who tried to accomplish multiple goals were less committed and less likely to succeed than those who focused on a single goal.
It is important to develop a specific plan for when, where, and how to stick to a new habit will dramatically increase the odds that you will actually follow through, but only if you focus on one thing.
What happens when you focus on one thing
When you begin practicing a new habit it requires a lot of conscious effort to remember to do it. After a while, however, the pattern of behavior becomes easier. Eventually, your new habit becomes a normal routine and the process is more or less mindless and automatic.
This is called automaticity it’s the ability to perform a behavior without thinking about each step, which allows the pattern and habitual.
Automaticity only occurs as a result of lots of repetition and practice. The more reps you put in the more automatic a behavior becomes.
The most important thing to note is that there is some “tipping point” at which new habit becomes more or less automatic. It takes time to build a habit and it depends on many factors including how difficult the habit is, what your environment is like, your genetics, and more.
It is said the average habit takes about 66 days to become automatic. But, don’t put too much stock in that number. The range is very wide and the only reasonable conclusion you should make is that it will take a few months for new habits to stick.
At this just one thing group, I am doing we will have accountability partners that will help us along the way.
If you decide to make this one thing a part of your goal system. Hang in there and don’t give up. The change will come. Choose an accountability partner. And look forward to just one goal success you will find.