A number of writers in the field of personal growth recommend working on developing a single habit, and only move on to the next habit once you have etched the previous habit in your psyche & daily routine. Some advocate working on forming a habit for 21 consecutive days, whereas others suggest sticking to a habit for 30 days. At one point Leo Babauta (of Zen Habits) recommended working on only 6 habits for the entire year.
I recently went back on the slow carb diet (mentioned in Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body book, and summarized in this post) after 2 years of ungodly, mindless eating habits. I’ve been on the diet for just over 10 days, but during that time I’ve:
- Stopped eating carbs (rice, bread, and sweets) – except on cheat day
- Stopped drinking diet coke and other soft drinks
- Stopped consuming dairy products
- Replaced coffee with green tea
- Started listening to audiobooks on the road
- Started drinking over 2L of water a day
- Started publishing blog posts again
- And have probably made other changes I can’t recall at the moment
I’ve made all these changes within the span of a week, and I’m feeling very comfortable with the changes so far. I didn’t adopt all these changes at once, but made the changes when I felt comfortable doing so. I’m aiming to adopt a few more habits in the upcoming days.
That’s because one change encourages other changes, as I celebrate my success with one habit, gain more confidence to tackle another, and experience more energy that allows me to do more and be more mindful and attentive to my choices.
From personal experience, I believe what matters isn’t how many habits we choose to focus on, but that we pick a starting point, rather than feel overwhelmed with all the changes we want to experience.
My advice is: Visualize what changes you can make tomorrow to your daily routine, focus only on the changes you have chosen, then notice what other changes you can make, while making progress towards the life you want to lead.
What has been your experience with forming habits? Have you been able to work on more than one habit at a time?