What does it take to build a habit?
Short answer: celebrate yourself.
Long answer: in order to build a beneficial sequence of habits, a few things are necessary:
- find a direction
- create a plan for travel to the destination
- celebrate the little victories along the way.
To break things down, think of any plan that you’ve ever executed. It first starts with a vision, execution, and then, often celebrating over pizza and beers. This will be no different (maybe no pizza or beer this time).
To give an example, imagine yourself setting the lifetime goal of running the Boston Marathon. After establishing the goal, what do you do? Your first action should be to find out what it’s going to take to make this goal attainable. How many daily hours are you willing to put in? What sacrifices are you willing to make? The things that become unimportant and unnecessary in your life are quickly flagged in this step of the process.
Now, between starting and completing the roadmap that you have established, there are surely things that you have done both correctly and incorrectly. I want to emphasize on the positive side of things here — if every decision you make from day 1 has been in a direction to help yourself get to Boston, that’s worth celebrating. Whether it’s getting up at the scheduled training time every day, PRing your 5k, or even sticking to a clean meal plan, celebrate it. Nothing is too small for celebration. In my opinion, building the habit of celebration for small victories might be the most important ritual for success.
Before you know it, you’ve reached the destination. Now what?
It’s important to realize that you are a creature with endless potential. That said, with your most recent goal attained, find a new one. In a very traditional progression, maybe you’re after a longer race? Or maybe you want to go faster or re-qualify? Either way, make sure that your next step is in a positive direction. Get into the habit of continuously establishing and connecting goals for yourself. You are never NOT good enough for something… reach for the lofty goals. Go out and prove everyone who may have ever doubted you or your abilities wrong. Including yourself.