The Art of the Start of a Habit

Starting any new endeavor, any new habit, is the hardest part. It’s hard to get up the momentum, the energy, to start a really hard project, such as creating a new habit.

And when we don’t start, we never get there.

Most people fail because they don’t even start.

The 6 Changes Method beats this tendency, overcomes that initial inertia.

Here’s how to beat inertia and get started:

Start ridiculously easy and small.

That’s it. That, and public accountability.

When I tell people how ridiculously easy they should start, they think I’m kidding. They think that’s too easy, and they decide to skip the first really easy step. They’re making a mistake.

The first step is the most important step, in the beginning. After that, the next step is the most important step.

You want to start as small and easy as possible, so that there is no excuse for not starting. You won’t be intimidated or overwhelmed, because you’re setting the bar as low as possible — you can’t possibly get tripped up by it, so you have no choice but to do it.

And if you tell people you’re going to start with this ridiculously easy step (public accountability), you’ll be embarrassed not to start.

Here are some examples of ridiculously easy starts — engineered so you can’t fail:

  • Start exercise just by putting on your shoes and going outside.
  • Start flossing simply by taking out a piece of floss each night at the same time. Don’t actually floss.
  • Start eating healthy simply by drinking a glass of water at each meal.
  • Start waking early just by setting your alarm 5 minutes early the first week.
  • Start decluttering by choosing one thing you can get rid of each day. Just one.
  • Start kicking the smoking habit by starting your day reading (or watching a sunrise, or meditation, or whatever) instead of smoking. Just replace that one cigarette at first.
  • Start kicking the email obsession by doing it one less time per hour — and doing something else, like updating your to-do list or taking one action on a report you’re working on, or whatever.

Start really really easy and small, and tell lots of people about it. You won’t fail to start.