Try These Expert-Backed Tips to Make Positive Changes Stick
Willpower and motivation are powerful, but implementing new systems will make positive habits stick. Try these tips from experts like James Clear and Bruce Lee.
Contrary to popular belief, willpower and hard work are not the driving forces behind making positive changes stick. Willpower, like motivation, unpredictably fades which is why it’s easy to rationalize skipping the gym because it’s “just one day.”
The key to making positive changes stick is implementing new habits, and creating fail proof systems around those habits that will help you succeed. Here are 3 tips to help you make those positive changes materialize—for good this time.
Don’t rely solely on motivation to keep going.
Motivation may have been the driving force to make healthy changes, but it won’t be what sustains them. Motivation ebbs and flows and flat out disappears some days, so you’ll need other systems in place to keep progress in forward motion, like creating a schedule (and sticking to it regardless of motivation level) or having someone like a friend or family member hold you accountable.
James Clear, author of New York Times Bestseller Atomic Habits, asserts that tiny, almost imperceptible changes compound into remarkable results. He suggests that instead of undertaking many extreme changes at once, to instead work toward just 1% of improvement each day. In doing so, we can achieve profound, lasting results.
To articulate the power of 1% improvement each day, he invites his readers to imagine an ice cube set on a table. The current temperature of the room is 0 degrees. Every hour, the temperature rises by one degree.
For hours on end, the ice cube doesn’t melt or really change at all. You might start wondering whether the effort of warming the room slowly (by 1% at a time) is having any effect on the ice.
You might wonder if you’re wasting your time, especially since you don’t feel a distinct change between each degree of warmth. After all, such a “slow” change in temperature is not very noticeable.
But guess what happens as soon as the room reaches 32 degrees? That’s right: the ice cube begins to melt!
One might think that the change happened immediately, but the change was the accumulated result of all the hours of warming that preceded it. In other words, the 1% changes added up and eventually transformed the ice cube completely.
Play the long game.
Bruce Lee once said, “Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.” Avoid any tendency to hit the ground running with extreme changes and instead focus on creating small, practical changes that are both easy and realistic. Recognizing that even these small changes can create big victories is key. And because they aren’t overwhelming or unrealistic, you’ll actually stick with them long enough to see progress!
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