Blog

5 Ways That Help You Build Habits Through A Chain-Reaction Of Small Wins

Habits are all about consistency and not intensity. So the point is not to overwork yourself, planning every single minute of your day-to-day life, but to create a long and sustainable direction of it.

When creating habits, it’s crucial to achieve small wins as fast as possible. Because the problem with habit-building almost always occurs in the first phase, known as the “filling” phase.

It’s the delicate period between Day 1 and Day 90 where your habits are still not ingrained in your mind and where small wins mean a lot. It’s the period where you still don’t see the results of your new habits so it’s important to create something tangible that will push your motivation and make you follow through the habit for the first 90 days.

Here are five ways that can help you build habits through chain-reaction of small wins.

1. Brag about it to your friends

 

We all want to fit in. No matter if it’s our family, friends, workplace or society in general, we all want to fit in but, and this is a major but, we want to fit in only to be able to stand out from everyone.

It sounds a bit paradoxical but hear me out. You want to be a part of your friends’ group – to fit in with them. But at the same time, you want to be slightly “better” than all of them and be on the top of that group, just enough so that you are respected (or revered) by everyone in the group. You are the top of the hierarchy, but you’re still in the hierarchy.

This is the one thing that is effective when building a habit. You achieve a small win when you start a new habit and immediately, after 7 days, brag about the habit to your friends. The win is twofold.

First, you acknowledge to yourself that you have actually started doing it. It feels surreal at the start but now you look back at it and see that you did the behavior for 7 straight days.  I did the same thing with my book reading habit. Two years have passed and I’ve read more than 100 books like that.

Second, you tell your friends all about it and get high fives, claps, or likes on social media if you decide to do that route. If your friends don’t give you high fives or claps, ditch them for some beer and tacos. Beer and tacos will always love you back.

But bragging to your friends is not the only way that helps you create small wins when building habits.

2. Do it as a justification for your favorite activity

When I was starting my “write 500 words every day” habit, I decided to put it before my favorite activity at that time – watching League of Legends game tournaments (yes, I know, I’m a gamer nerd).

The tournaments were held every Saturday and Sunday (North America ones that I watched) and they lasted for approximately 6 hours each. So that was around 12 hours of gaming matches to watch.

Before I could watch a single one, I had to do my daily habit of writing 500 words. I conditioned myself –Pavlov style. 

This works miraculously because my (stupid) brain started connecting my favorite activity in the world with the “dreadful” stage of building a writing habit. After a month, I was feeling excited every single time I had to write because that meant that I got to watch the LoL games.

The brain connected those two things together and made this habit building phase easier by tenfold.

3. Win through showing up

Let’s say you want to start a regular gym habit. You want to start going to the gym four times a week. A small win of showing up doesn’t mean going to the gym, it means putting on your gym clothes.

As soon as you put on the gym clothes, you will go to the gym because it’s easier for you to actually go to the gym instead of undressing and getting dressed in your regular clothes.

When you put the gym clothes on, the small win becomes walking out of your house and heading to the gym. When you get there, staying for just five minutes becomes a small win.

Each and every single time you do a chunk of the action (behavior), you stack up a small win by simply showing up. Building a habit is really about showing up every single time and that doesn’t mean that you need to finish or do the activity in the best possible way. You just need to show up for the activity.

Do a shitty 15 minutes exercise, skim through the 10 pages of a book, run for a third of a mile instead of two miles. It doesn’t matter, especially in the beginning. I’ve had days where I just wrote stupid shit to hit my 500 words a day goal. You will, later on, optimize your habit. But now, it’s all about showing up and you do that through the tiniest possible actions which always leads you one step closer to doing your habit…and one step closer…and one step closer.

Until one day, you look back and see all those small wins of showing up paid off – you developed a new habit.

4. Track your habit

This is one of the easiest things that you can do when building a new habit. It’s super effective! (you know, like an electricity attack on a water Pokemon) but most people decide to skip this.

When you track your activity, you have a visual representation of your new habit. Since we are visual beings and absorb information the best way through that, having a representative of your daily actions in front of you, colored in “green” is a major motivator for future actions.

Also, this puts your habit into perspective. When you see that you managed to follow through your habit 10 days in a row, it feels impressive. Here, read this through (out loud).

  1. I went to the gym
  2. I went to the gym
  3. I went to the gym
  4. I went to the gym
  5. I went to the gym
  6. I went to the gym
  7. I went to the gym
  8. I went to the gym
  9. I went to the gym
  10. I went to the gym

This stack is 10 times more effective than simply telling yourself that you went to the gym 10 days in a row.

Visual cues put our actions into a different perspective and all it takes is 5 seconds of your time if you use my system.

5. Environmental design – cut out one obstacle from your surroundings

This is the last but not the least way you can use small wins to build your habits. Environment plays a large role in determining our behavior. From the places where we:

  • buy our food, 
  • park our car,
  • hit the gym,
  • to the meals we prepare,
  • shows we watch (or don’t watch).

Environment plays a large role in all of them and we can use it to our advantage.

One of the ways you can achieve a small win here is by removing one thing from your environment which is an obstacle in your habit building process.

If you want to gain a book reading habit, you can unplug the TV from the room or even take it away into the basement. This doesn’t directly benefit your book reading habit (you didn’t open a book and put it on your pillow every single day), but by removing distractions and obstacles from your environment, you are limiting the choices you can take.

When you have the TV there, you have an easy option of reading a book or an even easier option of turning on the TV and watching some shows. We, humans, tend to save as much energy as possible (read: we are lazy) so we will pick the easiest possible option for us. And if the TV is there, that means watching it instead of reading a book ’cause it’s easier. Lazy human is lazy. 

Through environmental design, you can make the easy option a bit harder (watching TV) and the harder option a bit easier (reading a book). Sometimes, the difference between those two is a mere 20 seconds in your brain. By that, I mean that if you make watching TV “20 seconds” harder than it currently is, it will actually be a harder task than simply popping open a book. However, those 20 seconds can be the difference between reading a book and watching TV.  And that gets repeated over and over again until at the end of the year you realize you read 40+ books and watched 300 hours less TV.

Small actions done consistently make a major difference. 

And if you want to know how my system helped me stack reading, writing, gym, and business habits altogether, just leave your email down below. 

I’m still working on that e-book, but as soon as it’s done, you will be the first one to know. 

Share life-long habits over:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *