Design The Game So You Can Win

I've been thinking  about habits lately and how I design my goals so that I keep on going forward. The most basic change I've made over the last decade or so is that I stopped setting milestones extraordinarily high. There might still be overall goals that are partnered with me for life, but on a daily basis, I've gotten far more realistic.

Translating goals and achievements into habits is crucial to see it through. So anything that you want to succeed in, start with just 10-20 minutes a day. This might sound familiar, since I praised the similar program from the meditation app called Headspace.

Start by just doing it - Set yourself up

Make time. It is as simple as that. Don't make excuses or hesitate. For example, if you want to start jogging, you have to make it happen. The easiest way I started it was that immediately after coming back home from work, I just put on my running clothes, running shoes and left the house without putting a thought into it. 

After that, the second time is much easier and you begin to think, well I did this yesterday, the sun is shining and it didn't kill me, so on the road again! 

Positive framing helps and after the initial fatigue you will find it beneficary for your health, trust me.

Make it easy to win - Trigger Self-Motivation

So, you took the first hurdle, congratualtions. The second one is a bit harder: staying motivated. I heard this advice many times myself and I've also given it a few times, keep the game easy to win and everything else is bonus. The most recent situation I gave advice was to a writer. I took the example from Tim Ferriss and said: "Your goal should be two crappy pages a day". So , basically that is a achieveable goal, compared to "I have to write 10 pages a day" because you won't. It's just not happening. If you ever wrote something longer than your semester homework (>10 pages in total), you know what I'm talking about. 

This method works wonders, because it keeps up your progress. You are also not limited to your agreement. If you feel it, you can write 10, 20 or even 30 pages on a day, and that is great, but you already won. So, the next day might be quite different and you might be happy to at least get the 2 really crappy pages done. 

I basically do the same with most of my recent activities like: Meditate 10 minutes a day, play the guitar for 10 minutes a day, do yoga twice a week or writing a blog post every week (which I'm not that consistent about at the moment).

Reflect and analyse

Just doing things for the sake of doing anything is not always a great idea. Once I've put in the effort to form a habit or to learn a new skill, I'd like to see results or a least a change in my life. You could imagine it as a kind of before and after picture of yourself. 

Do you achieve your goals and are you happier than before? You do not need to be happier, sometimes it's just a feeling that something is different, but when you like that feeling, please do continue. 

I've been living a pescetarien lifestyle e.g. for the last 3+ years and I don't feel much better than before, but I also do not feel worse and my eating habits have improved. So in the end I might be healthier, but that is something only time will tell.

To sum up

I'm amazed at how much you can train yourself with simple tweaks during your day to increase productivity and embrace learning. As part of the generation y I think that this type of programming and life design will  be even more important for the future generations to come, since change will only become faster and we need to keep our adaptability intact to succeed. 

What do you do to keep good habits? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Sebastian