5 ways to improve yourself by changing small habits

To make a change, you often have to resort to tricks to overcome resistance. The bigger the change we want to implement, the higher the resistance we will encounter.

Let’s think of a different thing: according to the method of exponential geometric change, changing a 1% results in a butterfly effect that propagates the change with a geometric acceleration. It is like inserting a virus into the system, which is slowly capable of conquering the whole organism.

Remember that changing is an individual choice. In the process of change, it is not logical arguments that play the main role, but emotions. When you think about the behaviors you want to adopt or discourage, first of all ask yourself about the emotions associated with these behaviors, and try to get in touch with them.

Definition of the goal and how to reach it

Without a clear goal, even if you work very hard you will turn around in circles. Without will and effort, the goal will remain a dream.
First of all you must know your “values”, become aware of what it is worth living for you. To focus on them, it is helpful to ask yourself these three questions:

  • how would you like to be remembered at your funeral?
  • what would you do if you were 356 days old?
  • who would you call if you could make one phone call and were dying?

The second tip is to think like Vilfredo Pareto, a great economist and sociologist, known for the “80/20 law” which takes his name. It is an empirical law of a statistical nature, applicable to many aspects of life. Do this exercise, ask yourself: if you couldn’t work for more than 2 hours a day, what would you do? Once the program has been defined, correct it: the hours have only become 2 per week.

Acquiring new habits also means learning to focus one’s effectiveness on 20% of the efforts that allow us to get closer to achieving the goal. Once the strategic actions to reach the goal have been identified, the next step is to automate them, that is to make them become an integral part of our life, in order to minimize the effort that is needed to make them.

Choose a positive habit, that is, start with a habit to take, not one to abandon. It must be something tangible, that can be observed while you put it into action. Concreteness, especially at the beginning, is very important because it allows you to monitor progress.

If possible, choose something you can do every day of the week, including weekends, for example yoga, meditation, gym, running, keeping a journal. It is important that you identify what is your best time of day to start this new habit.

And above all, choose something small: a new habit, to last over time and not be abandoned quickly, must not upset your life, it must be practicable.

Establish the correct mental attitude

The Mindset  (mental attitude) that puts you at the center of your life and your decisions is fundamental.

Research from Yale University shows that the right mental attitude can affect even the length of life. The results of the research, which lasted 23 years on a sample of 660 people, showed that those who had a positive idea about the passage of time (and therefore aging) lived an average of 7.5 years more.
When we think of change we imagine a kind of Copernican revolution in our life, instead the attitude we need is that of the 1% factor: the more important is the change that we try to implement in our life (and in its balance), the greater the opposite and opposite force (that of our consolidated balance) that will push us to the starting point.

We think we want to improve English: we can set ourselves the goal of learning a new word a day. Only one, but learned for real: although it seems little, that 1% is fundamental and must be taken care of and consolidated, for example by attaching a post-it with the word of the day to the door, associating it with a photo that favors visual memory, writing in a notebook dedicated to English five sentences a day using that specific word.

Using 1% of our time to improve in something means more or less dedicating 14 minutes to that something: it is not so little, the essential is to apply. Sir Dave Brailsford has coached an English cycling team leading him to win three Tour de France in four years after a past of mediocrity.

To make this “revolution”, Brailsford improved by 1% every single aspect of the athlete’s performance: endurance, speed, management of race emotion, body weight, bicycle ergonomics, nutrition , the quality of sleep and the effectiveness of the ointments used on the team members.

The circle of habit: how to create it and how to stop it

The 1% technique can be applied not only to the adoption of new habits, but also to those we want to brake.