Why be “extra” when life happens in the “every day”? The small, consistent things we do add up to big rewards. Here are five small, daily things that can change your habits and your life.
Studies by neurobiologists and cognitive psychologists indicate that up to 95% of human behavior is habitual. Even what you think, what you say, and your overall actions fall into the habit category—the unconscious part of your brain that controls behavior without deciding to act.
What’s fascinating about habits is that nearly all of these started as a choice that eventually, with consistency, turned into an unconscious pattern.
The 1% Rule
Winning at work, life, or in your health isn’t about perfection. Perfection is the very rabbit trail that can derail any good plan. Winning is about executing consistently in the small things. Like waking up when your alarm clock goes off the first time, committing to the five daily to-do’s on your list, and scheduling social media breaks.
As much as you would like to believe that you can completely overhaul your life and make a 180 change stick, no one changes their habits all at once. It only happens by taking small steps to gain a 1% improvement every day.
Don’t let the “every day” slip through the cracks.
As James Clear says,
“The one-percent rule states that over time, most of the rewards in a given field will accumulate to the people, teams, and organizations that maintain a one-percent advantage over the alternatives. You don’t need to be twice as good to get twice the results. You just need to be slightly better.”
It’s the little things, done consistently over time that will lead to the most significant change. Here are five small choices you can make to change your habits.
1. Share a smile.
Your brain is hardwired based on your most common emotion. While it’s easy to get in the trap of keeping your head down and eyes focused on a screen, powerful things could change if you made eye contact with the people you encounter. Offering them a simple smile.
A smile sends positive signals swarming in your brain, leading to more positive emotions throughout the day. Smiling is a positive habit creating positive behaviors, leading to positive change.
2. Focus on just one thing.
We all like to believe we are hardwired to multitask. But none of us are. Even if we’re slightly good at it or appear to be rocking it, it catches up and slows us down. It all has to do with context switching in our mind—which burns up energy. So while multitasking may initially sound like you’re super productive with your time, switching back and forth actually eats up creative flow and productivity.
Instead, block out time in your day so you can give dedicated focus on just one thing and get it done before switching to something else.
3. Prompt yourself.
Life isn’t about arriving but about enjoying the journey, and when you stop growing, you stop living. But instead of being an inspiration, learning something new can feel complicated or overwhelming if you don’t know where to start or don’t have the time to dedicate to it.
The best way to grow is to learn and explore with self-directed prompts. Ask yourself questions. Whether it’s about something you’re interested in learning more about or questions about how you feel. Creating daily prompts can be a great way to grow and propel yourself forward.
At the end of each workday, write down one question you want to answer or explore. Commit to spending 10 minutes the following day exploring how you might achieve this new idea. Repeat this process daily, even making it a staple in your morning routine. You may be surprised at how easy it will become to grow and your new ideas bloom.
4. Get lost in something.
There is no denying that we are experiencing more pressure than ever. More work, more deadlines, more consequences. And less and less time to let ourselves get lost in our thoughts.
Whether it’s through journaling, diving into a good book, or taking the back route home from work, create space from your to-do list. Take time to sit back and let your mind wander. Get lost in the suspense of a good book. Recharge by stepping away.
Taking a step away adds energy, drive, and a new perspective to the tasks at hand, to work from a place of rest rather than working to rest.
5. Learn to let things go.
Does your brain ever feel like it’s swirling about like a mental mixer? There is so much information coming into your brain, including memories you’re trying to process you don’t know what is up from down?
You don’t have room for everything you’re trying to process, nor should you keep it. Holding onto emotions and memories, even good ones, can jam up your mind, preventing you from experiencing life daily.
One of the best skills to learn is the art of letting things go. To allow yourself to feel what you need to feel, experience it, sit with it but in the end, let it go.
You can’t hold onto things that don’t serve you and expect there to be room for more. As Queen Elsa would say, let it go!
Pick Just One Small Thing
It’s the small things that add up to big changes, but it shouldn’t take all of the small things to do so.
Pick just one small thing you want to work on and put it into practice. Remember that things done consistently create the most significant rewards, becoming the habits that last. Stop looking for the complete life-transformation. Live in the moment, because it’s here in the “every day” that your best life happens.
What will you do today that will matter tomorrow?