Now is the time of year when people try out new resolutions and plan out the year ahead. I have never been good at resolutions, and I admire those that are able to stick with them for the year. I recently finished a book called Superhuman by Habit by Tynan. It’s about, as you may have guessed, building habits. The book explores the idea that as we make certain actions automatic we reduce the need for willpower for those actions and save it for others. The more good habits you have, the more you accomplish automatically and the more willpower you have to pursue other more difficult tasks.
The author divides habit building into two phases: loading and maintaining. The initial loading phase is intense and requires a lot of willpower. It is the intensive process of creating a habit and ingraining it into your routine and your brain so at some point, you won’t even need to think about doing it. After this phase, you can scale back to maintaining. In this phase, the habit no longer needs intense concentration. It’s a daily, automatic action. He writes, “We put our faith in the compounded power of small repeated actions, and we adjust our behavior to reap those benefits.”
Small daily habits are the best way to go. They may not make an immediate impact on your life, but habits are about thinking long-term. To make it stick, a habit needs to be small and consistent. In choosing which habits to integrate into your life, the author suggests examining your life for your weakest areas and discovering what your major impediments are. This process is painful, no one likes looking for their own weaknesses, and it requires a brutal but constructive honesty that will be helpful in the long-term. Once you identify your major impediments, you can begin creating habits that will remove them and help you move forward.
Another thing to consider is if you more naturally add or subtract. Tynan uses the example whether if you find it easier to start working out or to cut out junk food. You either add something in or you take something out. Finding out which way you lean will make creating habits easier, but whichever way you prefer, it doesn’t mean you can’t do the other, it just may require more effort.
The last half of the book is divided into sections of habits. The author explains the habits that he has successfully implemented in his life and the process that he used. The habits range from meditating each day, to keeping your inbox clean, being on time, working out, and drinking tea. He explains his loading process, the difficulties, and the benefits of each habit.
Adding one habit at a time, slowly building up, makes things that seem immensely difficult suddenly become easier. Meditating every day sounds overwhelming but meditating for 2 minutes before bed sounds doable. If you’re struggling with your resolutions or want to make small but significant changes in your life, I would recommend this book as a starting point. It’s a quick read, but encouraging in a way that makes it seem possible to begin changing your life.
I wish you the best starting out this new year and feel free to share any resolutions or goals you’ve set this year.
By Melissa Blakely
All images from pixabay.com