How To Make It Easy To Form A Habit - Make It Personal
Aug 14, 2022
Sometimes when we set goals for ourselves (including forming new habits), they can feel completely unrealistic. Like they’re impossible to reach.
The purpose of this series of articles is to break down the various ways you can make your habit goals much more attainable – by removing friction and making the whole process that much easier and more enjoyable.
In this article, part 1 of the series, we’re going to take a look at how tailoring your habits to your personal strengths, abilities and things you enjoy will make it ten times easier for a habit to stick.
How to set habit goals that set you up for success
“The secret to maximizing your odds of success is to choose the right field of competition.” - James Clear
Habits are actions that we repeat so often that they become automatic — our routines. Goals are what we want to achieve — our dreams. But if you think about it, the way we set goals can be the key to success or failure when it comes to forming habits.
Here's why: The secret to setting goals with the best chance of success is tailoring them to your skills, passions and outcomes you want to achieve. If you don't do this, then you'll likely spend most of your time trying to change yourself — which is really hard — instead of changing your environment so it supports who you are.
That's what author Brian Tracy says in his book Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. He calls this principle "personalization."
Tracy says that when you personalize a goal, it becomes more meaningful, easier to achieve and more likely to stick. For example: "I will lose 10 pounds'' is not as effective as "I am 10 pounds lighter - I’ve achieved this by eating healthy foods that I like - and cutting out the morning croissant on my way to work."
And it’s exactly the same with habits. If you want to start exercising regularly, for example, find an activity that you’re naturally good at and actually enjoy.
Take me and my wife Meg. It’s important for both of us to stay fit but the way we go about it is much different. For me, it’s playing basketball, padel, or golf. I genuinely enjoy these sports so it doesn’t feel like work. Meg, on the other hand, likes to stay in shape through running, pilates or Paleton. If pilates was the only way for me to work out – I’d struggle a lot to turn that into a habit because I just don’t enjoy it very much.
And it doesn’t just apply to fitness goals, literally anything you want to achieve in life and business will be so much easier to reach when it aligns with your natural abilities, passions and interests.
Habits are easier when they align with your natural abilities
Now here’s a hard truth that might ruffle some feathers: we’re all born with different abilities and there’s not much we can do about it.
Now, just to be clear, I’m absolutely not talking about having a fixed mindset here – believing that you’re good at some things, bad at others and you can’t do anything to change it.
But a lot of things, like physical characteristics, intelligence, hand-eye coordination, creativity, are influenced by your genetic makeup. If you have genes that make you 7 feet tall, that’s going to give you one hell of an advantage in basketball. But there’s a much lower chance of you becoming a world-class gymnast.
Of course, if you are 7 feet tall and you have a passion for gymnastics, then go for it. Genes can determine your areas of opportunity, but they don’t determine your destiny – only you can do that.
When it comes to habits, the same is true. You can massively reduce the friction in forming a new habit by utilizing your natural inclinations and abilities.
That being said, if there is a habit that you absolutely want to pursue – but doesn’t lie within your natural skills or affinities – you shouldn’t let that stop you. The key thing is remembering that you may have to work a little harder in some areas to overcome Mother Nature – but once a new habit is formed, it will become automatic.
I truly believe that EVERYONE has something they could excel at over the majority of others with practice. The key to finding it lies in self-awareness and getting curious about your natural abilities and inclinations — what makes you tick.
So all this begs the question, “how can I figure out my natural skills and abilities, likes and dislikes?”
How to discover your natural passions and abilities
Of course, one way to discover your natural skills and abilities is to try a bunch of things and see what you like. But is it possible to discover them without having to go through the long process of trial and error? Yes, absolutely.
Here are a 4 powerful questions that can help you reflect on your life and figure out your natural passions and abilities:
“What feels like fun to me, but work to others?”
Think of a time you were enjoying yourself when others doing the same task were grumbling and complaining? The work that hurts you less than it hurts others is the work you were made to do.
“What makes me lose track of time?”
Can you remember the last time you were so focused on a task that the time seemed to fly by and the rest of the world just faded into the background? This is the ‘flow state’ or what performance athletes call being ‘in the zone’
“What comes naturally to me?”
When do you feel alive, the real you. No Internal judgments or people pleasing here, just feeling authentic and genuine and that you’re headed in the right direction.
“Where do I get greater returns than the average person?”
Whether we want to or not, the truth is that we constantly compare ourselves to others. When we look at others and see that we’re better at something, it feels incredibly satisfying – it’s human nature! Don’t push these feelings aside, pay attention to them because they’re a sure fire indicator of your natural skills.
Each of these questions is a window into figuring out what makes you tick – and more importantly, what makes you feel good. Because using pleasure or gratification as a reward system is an essential for replacing failure habits with success habits.
Play your own game
By now, I hope you’ve realized that playing a game that favors your natural strengths gives you a much better chance of winning. But what if you can’t find a game where you have a natural advantage? Simple. You create one.
As I mentioned before, we spend so much time looking at others and comparing ourselves. While that can be helpful in identifying your natural skills, a consequence is that we get caught up in competing to reach someone else’s goals, based on someone else’s values and vision of how the world should look. You may have heard about Bronnie Ware who interviewed people lying in their deathbeds about their biggest regrets. The number one regret of the dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.
It’s exactly the same with habits. I think this quote from James Clear summarizes it perfectly: “A good Player works hard to win the game everyone else is playing. A great player creates a new game that saves their strengths and avoids their weaknesses.”
There’s a version of EVERY habit that can bring you joy and satisfaction, all you have to do iis find a way to tailor it towards what Mother Nature gave you.
This is exactly what I’m doing with my new app – gamifying your life to leverage your natural gifts and trick your brain into wanting to take actions that ultimately result in replacing your old routines with new habits that bring you happiness.
Learning to play the game of life so the odds are in your favor is critical for reducing friction to make sure the habits you want to develop feel effortless.
It’s so much easier to get in – and stay in – your success loop when you:
Play to your natural ability and talents.
Take action and have success.
Get praised by others.
All of these elements help you to gain confidence which gives more energy and motivation to take more action – and the cycle continues.
Check out the app here – and gamify your habits to level up your life