36 months

So tonight as I ate my steak burrito, I came across this from Leo Babauta:

[tweet https://twitter.com/zen_habits/status/205762701941669889]

I thought it odd that he’d call his own post “amazing” so I followed the link. Now in the past I wouldn’t have gotten past the 3rd sentence probably, but for whatever reason lately (probably something to do with my mission statement over there) I’ve been engaging these types of articles more. This certainly resonated:

One day, I might decide to stop drinking coffee. I’d go two or three days without, then find an excuse to drink it again.

A few weeks later, I’d decide that I was going to start writing every day. Or running every day. Or reading or saving money or playing chess or keeping a clean workspace or following a schedule or walking my dogs more or checking email less.

I’d decide to change something (or usually, many things at once) and implement it immediately. I’d tell myself that from this point forward, things would be different. I would be different.

And invariably, I’d quit the next week, disheartened and frustrated. So I’d try harder next time, with more ambitious goals, more changes to make, only to fail again.

So my curiosity was piqued and I decided to read on about his Limitless allegory. As with most of the great advice I’ve read via zenhabits the point was so elegant in it’s simplicity and correctness:

The ingredient I was missing was patience… In my notes from [Leo’s talk at the first-ever World Domination Summit in Portland], I wrote these words:

One change at a time. Five minutes at first…

[Y]ou’d never try to run 10 miles on your first day back after a long layoff; you know that it takes time to regain your fitness, and that doing too much could lead to injury or burnout. Same with the gym — you don’t go in on Day 1 and try to bench twice your weight… And yet that’s exactly the way I had tried to change my habits… Every single time.

Again this resonated with a bit with my experiences with my first 30-day challenge and with the stuff I’d read on zen habits. I’ve gone 24 days without a Coke because I started small. I didn’t try and go from eating & drinking whatever I wanted to a vegan diet. I picked one thing that I really wanted to change and focussed in on it.

And then the kicker:

Change just one habit a month, and in three years you’ll have 36 new habits.

Wow. Bam! The pieces seemed to fit together so nicely. You can develop 36 new habits all-at-once. But one-at-a-time, building on your successes it seems so possible, so attainable.

And I’ve done this with other habits, just not with as much succession. I started budgetting and paying off debt (and in the process gave Dave Ramsey a try). This is the same core concept he talks about with the debt snowball, the same basic behavior modification. So I’ve done it before. Now I just am going to do it again and again. Once a month x 36 months.