We Are What We Repeat: How To Make Building Habits (And Achieving Success) Feel Effortless

Habits are routine behaviors that we adopt and practice, often without even being aware of them. What is fascinating about them is that when done right, they enable you to propel yourself towards success- on autopilot!

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Goals and dreams motivate us to wake up every day and work towards success. Having those big goals is essential, but what defines how you feel and who you are when you get there is the journey you take. Your process is more significant than the destination itself, and what drives growth and progress throughout that process are the habits you form.

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Habits are routine behaviors that we adopt and practice, often without even being aware of them. What is fascinating about them is that when done right, they enable you to propel yourself towards success- on autopilot! Let’s take the concept of habit creation a step further and talk about micro-habits. Micro-habits are habits that require very little to no effort to complete, but they compound over time to have a tremendous impact on your life. Think of the potential these two ideas have when put together. You can make small, easy adjustments in your life in the form of micro-habits, and their impact will accrue over time to help you achieve those big goals.

Of course, this comes with the precondition that you create the right kind of habits. They must be chosen carefully and repeated consistently to have an impact. You can take specific actions to ensure your choices work in your favor, but first, let’s understand what kind of habits are inherently easier to maintain.

Here’s the anatomy of what we call “effortless” habits:

1. Relevant and appropriate

If you can understand the role a habit has to play in helping you achieve a goal, it becomes easier to stick to it. This concept works well when the connection is obvious. For example, if your goal is to improve your diet, it’s not difficult to understand how adding green vegetables to your lunch and dinner every day will help you get closer to that goal. When the correlation between a habit and success isn’t immediately clear, you need to spend some time establishing this link to convince yourself of the power of that habit.

2. Easy to follow

Although we are capable of overcoming immense challenges and setbacks, the fact is we are also quite lazy when it comes to certain areas of our life. We prefer the easy way out, and habits are no exception. That’s why easy-to-follow practices are also the easiest to maintain. If you find it difficult to adopt or keep up a habit, think of ways you can make it easier. For example, if you want to run every morning, keep your running shoes and gear ready the previous night, so that getting ready becomes a less demanding ritual.

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3. Instantly gratifying Humans crave immediate gratification, which is why we tend to choose short-term rewards over long-term achievements. Seeing or experiencing rewards in the short term may feel good for a while, but the habits that you practice for weeks, months, or even years are the ones that give you consistent success. They’re called habits because they’re repeated over time, even if they sometimes do not make immediate sense, as mentioned in the first point above. We need to understand that it takes consistent effort to create habits that deliver long-term, life-changing results.

Now that we know some of the science that drives habits, here’s how you can go about setting up habits for success:

1. Do your homework

Make it make sense. Since we tend to stick to habits connected to our goal, think about how your routines and practices are helping you on your journey. Some connections are not as obvious and others, so make sure you understand a habit’s ability to get you closer to success. Spend time on this exercise in the beginning, I assure you, it’s worth it. For instance, if you aim to build a six-figure business in two years, and you’ve heard that it helps to meditate for five minutes every morning, you might have difficulty believing this will help you reach your goal, because the direct link between them isn’t obvious. Doing some research and talking to other people who meditate regularly could help you learn about its merits. When you discover that it can help you achieve clarity and focus, you may recognise how it can positively impact your productivity and efficiency, helping you get closer to achieving your dream.

2. Start small

It’s tempting to go all out and introduce many new habits at once, but not everyone can keep up with the rigor this demands. Introduce a new habit or two at first, and only when they become a natural part of your life, incorporate new ones. Start small and work your way up, rather than setting yourself up for failure by placing too many demands on yourself.

3. Review often

Take stock of your journey. Which habits are working, and which aren’t? Why do some feel more difficult than others? You can do this alone, or with a friend or mentor. In any case, be open and honest. This is about your growth and your story. It’s good to be aware of setbacks and obstacles, as that is the first step to overcoming them.

4. Change things up

Some habits serve us for certain parts of our journey, but not all are required for the entire duration, so it’s okay to park them and bring in new, more powerful habits. Accept this, and be open to reassessing as often as you need. Keep an open mind when you review your habits. In the end, remember that what we are trying to do by creating the right habits is to build a blueprint for success in life. This deserves your time, commitment, and full understanding, and if you give it all of these, you will learn to form habits that serve your growth. Some of your micro-habits will stay with you for life, and they will go a long way towards helping you find health and happiness. So, give it a shot– it’s worth it.

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Marcus Smith

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Marcus Smith is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and international athlete. With a clear vision of building brands that improve people’s lives through health, culture and environment, he has developed and established two successful businesses, including international performance company, InnerFight, and paleo food provider, Smith St Paleo. He is the host of the InnerFight podcast, the UAE’s number 1 health podcast.