Most of the time, what we do is what we do most of the time.
Sometimes, we do something new.

david.j.townsend & thomas g. bever

Behaviour change is not quick. But it is possible.

The trick, it seems, is to start ridiculously small and unequivocally specific when it comes to adopting the good habit that “solves for” whatever the perceived problem is that you are tackling.

Dave Burnett from Harvard gave this advice around job-hunting in his Ted Talk, namely:

  • Step 1: “Set the bar low”
  • Step 2: “Clear the bar”
  • Step 3: “Remain engaged (with the process)

James Clear of Atomic Habits fame, gives the same advice, but in his own way:

“Optimise for the start line…”

james clear

What’s fascinating about this approach to building momentum, is what happens when we examine “the logical opposite”.

Meaning that, if you wanted to dissuade yourself or other people from taking consistent action, from changing their behaviour in any meaningful way, then you’d do the exact opposite. Such as:

  • Step 1: Set the bar very high
  • Step 2: Fail to get even close to the high bar
  • Step 3: (Understandably) fail to engage (with the process)

All of those negative steps typically engage with some massive goal that “optimises for the finish line”.

Things get even worse when we don’t focus on one bar. Instead, we try to leap over multiple – high – bars during any given week. And wonder why we’re not making progress.