As a slight continuation of my previous post, I wanted to touch on building true habits.
Too often, people look at goals and habits as abstract, idealistic desires, stemming from a random burst of inspiration, to be quickly followed by failure (ex: new years resolutions). A big reason for this, I think, is that people reach for everything all at once. You don’t reach goals by repeatedly trying the same thing, hoping it works one of these days. You reach goals by slowly but surely training yourself to develop habits. You cannot reach a goal without first mechanically developing the habit that will put you in the best position to reach it.
With that in mind, here are four steps to take to develop a habit:
1. Be Knowledgeable
Knowledge does two things for you. First, it makes it very difficult to convince yourself of something. If you are on a diet, for example, and know a cheeseburger “is bad”, it’s easy to tell yourself that one cheeseburger is “not that bad”. If you take the time to learn about where fast food beef comes from and the related dangers, your desire to eat that cheeseburger plummets. Secondly, and most importantly for artists, knowledge breeds inspiration. Picture the author who spends months researching in the library to prepare for his next book. Artists who truly dive into the subtleties of their craft find themselves completely encompassed in their art. This combination of knowledge and inspiration will serve as the perfect platform to grow from.
2. Be a Failure
If you want to be a better writer, write a bad song every day. Developing a writing habit is more important than writing one great song. If you spend your time obsessing over making one song perfect, you are simply convincing yourself that this song is a pivotal moment, when in reality it probably isn’t. If your one and only song that you spent so much time on turns out to be bad, then 100% of your songs are bad. If you write one song every day, though, the pressure goes away, and the chance of you writing the masterpiece you have inside of you skyrockets.
3. Be Consistent
Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” Don’t stop. Over time, two things will happen simultaneously. First, your output will continue to increase. Second, your consistency will make it less difficult each day to do the work you know you’re capable of. As these two things collide, everything jumps to the next level, very close to solidifying the habit at a level you’re satisfied with.
4. Be Brave
Get comfortable with vulnerability. People rally behind those who are brave, not those who hide until everything is just right. I promise people will respect your work if you do it with consistent bravery and vulnerability.
*These are not necessarily chronological steps. These ideas do not work in isolation. Rather, each area inspires another, turning your work into a constant stream of positive, productive momentum.