I recently filled out paperwork to open a retirement account. And, somewhere in the midst of it, my teenage self died a little bit.
That’s okay – I would have lectured her about the benefits of cumulative investments.
We’re quick to praise the idea of early investing, even if it’s done little by little, because we know the accumulated benefits we’ll later reap. Why don’t we think this way when it comes to habit building?
I’ll admit, when it comes to habits and goal setting, I consider myself a ‘go big or go home’ type of person. That means that I usually went home in the past years.
Being recently thrust into a season of life change, I suddenly lost the ability to keep up some of the habits I managed to adhere to throughout college. Suddenly, I was left scratching my head, needing to rebuild, and musing that there surely must be a better way to create habits than through sheer willpower that was balanced on an unstable foundation.
I was recently introduced to the research and musings of James Clear (thank you, The Real Life Podcast!), and what he had to say about habit building made SO MUCH SENSE. If there was a light bulb anchored above my head, it would have lit up.
If we want to set sustainable saving and investing goals, we shouldn’t try to set aside a massive chunk of money each month; instead, we should start little and realistically, letting the new build on the old. Likewise, instead of setting lofty goals and aiming to create unlikely habits overnight, we should instead seek to build on the progress from the day before.
In other words, we should strive to get 1% better every single day.
Want to become a person who doesn’t miss workouts? Then don’t let yourself go a scheduled day without working out, even if it means you nail out a few push-ups on the kitchen floor.
Want to become a person who makes healthier choices in the kitchen? Make small changes everyday; it can be as small as consciously swapping the potato chips for some carrot sticks.
Want to be an avid reader? Don’t go a day without reading a few pages, no matter how little time you may think you have.
The best habits aren’t built overnight, but built upon themselves over days and days of steadily shifting choices.
So, in 2019, I’ll be focusing on becoming 1% better every single day. My 2020 self will thank me.