Creating a new positive habit might be one of the most difficult struggles everyone faces regularly. In order to create a new habit, you have to change an existing habit, which isn’t easy. It’s like driving down a dirt road. Every time you do something, it makes an impression.
As you keep doing it, those impressions get deeper and deeper. Eventually they turn into ruts that are incredibly difficult to drive out of. The good news is that once you’ve created a rut with the right habit, it’s easy to stay in that rut, to keep doing the same good thing.
Yesterday I had coffee with a friend and advisor. This guy works 7am-6pm daily. He works long hours, because that’s just what he does. Towards the end of our time, he paid me a compliment. “I’m proud to see that discipline to write everyday on top of doing a startup.” Obviously I was flattered. To be honest, I was more caught off-guard.
I write every evening, post and share every morning. That’s just what I do. I’ve only been writing in this capacity for six or seven weeks, but it’s become a habit that’s easy to keep up with. When I first started, it was a real struggle. Who has motivation at 9pm after a full work day? But I knew it was something I needed to do, so I’d force myself to sit and write every night, whether I wanted to or not. It took discipline, but only for a couple weeks.
In fact, two weeks (give or take) is how long the experts say it takes to develop a habit. Now, writing every night is just something I do, no questions asked. This exact same situation happens (or can) for anyone.
Everyone knows that one person who exercises seven days a week. We look at these people and think, “Man, I wish I had their discipline!” It’s true, what they’re doing takes discipline. But ask any person who does the same thing everyday, and they’ll all give you the same response with a half shrug: It’s just what I do.
It takes about two weeks to develop a habit, two weeks of significant discipline. When you’re building a habit, when you’re trying to start doing something new everyday, don’t think of it as something you have to do everyday. Think of it as needing discipline for just two weeks. Whatever you’re trying to do will become significantly easier. Then it becomes a habit that you continually reinforce. Then it’s just what you do.