It’s been said that we don’t rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems.
Last week I had lunch with a friend who’s a startup CEO. Despite experiencing constant pressure and increasing challenges to his business, he’s been able to operate effectively with a manageable level of stress.
He told me his routine is everything. He now wakes up at the same time every day, works for an hour, spends time with his kids then takes them to school every day, exercises, and then is fully ready to dig in on the day’s work.
My friend has found a daily practice that sustains him. These daily habits allow him to show up consistently.
For me, my daily practice consists of three core activities. I’ve found that if I read a spiritual or inspirational text, exercise, and journal, I’m already 95% of the way to having a good day. This daily practice helps me show up as my best self.
I invite you to answer for yourself: what’s my daily practice?
You know building good habits is key to success but both building and ending habits can be really hard to do. BJ Fogg is an expert on behavioral change. Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from his book, Tiny Habits.
B = MAP.
Behavior happens when Motivation & Ability & Prompt converge at the same moment.
To start or stop a behavior you need all three. Motivation is your desire to do the behavior. Ability is your capacity to do the behavior. And Prompt is your cue to do the behavior.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve focused almost exclusively on motivation. “If only I were more motivated I’d be able to change.”
It sounds counterintuitive, but motivation is the last place we should start. The fastest way to change your behavior is to have a prompt. Two personal examples.
1) For years I wanted to exercise more consistently but it didn’t start happening until I laid out my workout clothes the night before. Each morning those clothes were a reminder (prompt) to exercise and I immediately put them on.
2) I knew expressing gratitude each day would lead to greater wellbeing but I was inconsistent. Once I created a daily notification (prompt) on my phone the habit was created. I was motivated and had the ability to express gratitude, I just needed a reminder.
Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt.
Motivation and ability have their role in building stronger habits, but often all you need is a simple prompt to make the change.