What Makes High Achievers Different Than the Rest?
To answer that question, let me tell you a quick story.
Nearly 2,500 years ago, there was a man of incredible strength and athleticism roaming the hills of southern Italy. His name was Milo of Croton and he was almost certainly the most successful wrestler of his day.
Milo was a six-time wrestling champion at the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece. In 540 BC, he won the boys wrestling category and then proceeded to win the men’s competition at the next five Olympic Games in a row.
It is said that Milo built his large muscles and remarkable power through a simple strategy. One day, a newborn calf was born near his home. Milo lifted up the small animal and carried it on his shoulders. The next day, he returned to the pasture and did the same. Milo continued this routine each day for the next four years until he was no longer hoisting a small calf onto his shoulders but a four-year-old bull.
The Surprising Power of Small Habits
The difference a small improvement can make over time is astounding.
For example, imagine improving by just one percent each day. If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Meanwhile, if you get one percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero.
1.01^365 = 37.78
0.99^365 = 0.03
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. They seem to make little difference each day and yet they accumulate very quickly over the months and years. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more in the long-run. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
The person you are right now is the sum of all the moments when you chose to do things one percent better or one percent worse. The actions we repeat each day shape the lives we live and the results we experience. Habits are not just a feature within our lives, they are the sculptor of our lives.
The path to a stronger, healthier, and happier life is through a steady series of small decisions and daily habits. And yet how easily we forget this when we want to make a change.
Your Life Today is Essentially the Sum of Your Habits
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful when it is accompanied by an immediate reward.
Whether it is losing weight, building a business, writing a book, or achieving any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Everyone wants a transformation, but we fail to realize that little choices and small habits are transforming us every day.
Everyone wants a transformation, but we fail to realize that little choices and small habits are transforming us every day. We falsely believe that the only way to accomplish something significant is to take massive action. We overvalue the shining moments and undervalue the boring days.
Making a choice that is one percent better or one percent worse seems insignificant in the moment. Over the span of moments that make up our lives, however, these small habits determine the difference between who we are and who we could be.
A good life is the natural result of good daily habits.
Here’s Something to Ask Yourself…
What would your life be like in five years if you let your bad habits flourish, your weaknesses compound, and your foolish mistakes take the upper hand each day?
What about the alternative? What kind of life could you create for yourself if your good habits accumulated, your most productive days became your normal days, and you showed up as your best self each morning?
Better habits can lead to meaningful change.
- What if you finally lost that weight?
- What if you wrote that book?
- What if you started that business?
What would changes like that be worth to you? How would your life improve?
Wherever You Want to Go,
Better Habits Will Get You There Faster
Again and again, the highest achievers are the ones with the best habits.
Just look at what some of history’s greatest men and women have said…
“Habits gradually change the face of one’s life as time changes one’s physical face; and one does not know it.”
—Virginia Woolf, English writer and modernist
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
–Will Durant, historian. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” <a class=”footnote-button” style=”margin: 0px 0.1em 0px 0.2em; padding: 0.325em; border: none; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: 0; font-family: Lato, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif !important; vertical-align: middle; outline: none; color: #1a77bd; text-shadow: #dddddd 0px 0px 0px; position: relative; z-index: 5; top: -0.2em; box-sizing: border-box; display: inline-block; height: 0.9em; width: 1em; border-radius: 3px !important; cursor: pointer; opacity: 0.3; backface-visibility: hidden; text-decoration: none; transition: opacity 0.25s; background-color: #757371 !important;” title=”” href=”http://jamesclear.com/hmc-v1#” rel=”footnote” name=”note-1-23722″ data-footnote-number=”1″ data-footnote-identifier=”1″ data-footnote-content=”
Photo released under the Creative Commons “Attribution Share-Alike” 2.5 License by Nikolas Coukouma.
—Octavia E. Butler, author. First science fiction author to win the MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner
“Nothing is stronger than habit.”
-Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), famous poet in Ancient Rome.
“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.”
—Martha Graham, dance icon and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Life is habit. Or rather life is a succession of habits.”
-Samuel Beckett, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” <a class=”footnote-button” style=”margin: 0px 0.1em 0px 0.2em; padding: 0.325em; border: none; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: 0; font-family: Lato, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif !important; vertical-align: middle; outline: none; color: #1a77bd; text-shadow: #dddddd 0px 0px 0px; position: relative; z-index: 5; top: -0.2em; box-sizing: border-box; display: inline-block; height: 0.9em; width: 1em; border-radius: 3px !important; cursor: pointer; opacity: 0.3; backface-visibility: hidden; text-decoration: none; transition: opacity 0.25s; background-color: #757371 !important;” title=”” href=”http://jamesclear.com/hmc-v1#” rel=”footnote” name=”note-2-23722″ data-footnote-number=”2″ data-footnote-identifier=”2″ data-footnote-content=”
Image by Lynn Gilbert [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
—Billie Jean King, former No. 1 tennis player in the world, winner of 39 Grand Slam titles.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
—Jim Ryun, Olympic medalist and world record holder in the mile. First high school athlete to run a mile in under four minutes. United States Congressman.
Your Habits Can Enslave You. Or Free You.
There is one skill that is so valuable that it will make you a standout in any area of life, no matter what kind of competition you face.
And it’s understanding how to change your behavior.
All of the biggest problems in our daily lives are behavioral. Getting into shape. Learning a new language. Writing a book. Eating healthy. Finding a partner. Improving your marriage.
It all starts with habits. If you want a better body or a better career or a better relationship, then you need to take better actions. If nothing changes, nothing is going to change.
Plain and simple, the most valuable skill you can learn for improving your life is the skill of building better habits. Hands down. No contest. Habits are the master key that unlock our biggest hopes and overcome our most stubborn fears and frustrations.
Anyone Can Change Their Habits. Let Me Show You How.
Most people are guessing when it comes to building better habits. Random strategies. Random bursts of motivation. Random results.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
There is a scientific formula anyone can follow to get better and fulfill their potential. Follow my step-by-step process. There is zero guesswork involved.
When you were 4 or 5 years old, an adult in your life probably taught you to tie your shoes.
At first, this task was right on the cusp on your abilities as a child. It was challenging and required focus, memorization, and patience. You probably got frustrated and gave up a few times. You probably frequently forgot to tie your shoes altogether, toddling around and tripping on the long laces. But eventually, little by little, you learned and the behavior of tying your shoes became automatic.
Now, you can do it quickly and without even thinking about.
Tying your shoes is a habit, just like the habits you want to build in your life now.
You are capable of transforming your habits. You just need the right strategy and a smart approach.
So many people I talk to feel discouraged and frustrated after trying strategies to change their habits for years without success. They start to feel like a habit can’t be learned at all, and that the entire process is useless and a waste of time.
Yet, from the time we were tiny, we’ve known how to build habits.
No matter the success or failure you’ve faced with habits in your life up to this point, you already know how to build habits. You are already capable of change. The problem isn’t you. The problem is your strategy.
But I can help with that.
Everyone should have the right and the means to pursue their creative aspirations. That includes you. And in this spirit,I present a terrific book for you: Creative Turnaround – Advice & Inspiration for Artists + Artisans.
Within these pages, they’ve assembled inspiring and practical advice from world-class experts on how to take your own vision for the coming year and turn it into a reality. They offer this guide as a free gift to you in the hopes that something here will move you to open your heart and take a risk: start a project, share your work,follow your dream, start your own business.
Wherever your creative passion takes you, this can be a helpful resource for you at every step of the journey. So what are you waiting for? Go for it and good luck!
Latest On Book Digestr