From the article originally published on JamesClear.com.

_____________________________________________________________

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior.

Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behavior.

However research has also discovered implementation intentions only work when you focus on one goal at a time.

In fact, researchers found that people who tried to accomplish multiple goals were less committed and less likely to succeed than those who focused on a single goal.

This is important: developing a specific plan for when, where, and how you will stick to a new habit will dramatically increase the odds that you will actually follow through, but only if you focus on a single goal.

What Happens When You Focus on One Thing

Here is another science-based reason to focus on one habit at a time:

When you begin practicing a new habit it requires a lot of conscious effort to remember to do it. After awhile, however, the pattern of behavior becomes easier. Eventually, your new habit becomes a normal routine and the process is more or less mindless and automatic.

Researchers have a fancy term for this process called “automaticity.” Automaticity is the ability to perform a behavior without thinking about each step, which allows the pattern to become automatic and habitual.

But here’s the thing:

automaticity only occurs as the result of lots of repetition and practice. The more reps you put in, the more automatic a behavior becomes.

For example, this chart shows how long it takes for people to make a habit out of taking a 10-minute walk after breakfast.

In the beginning, the degree of automaticity is very low. After 30 days, the habit is becoming fairly routine. After 60 days, the process is about as automatic as it can become.

The most important thing to note is that there is some “tipping point” at which new habits become more or less automatic.

That said, the study cited above found the average habit takes about 66 days to become automatic. (Don’t put too much stock in that number. The range in the study was very wide and the only reasonable conclusion you should make is that it will take months for new habits to become sticky.)

Change Your Life Without Changing Your Entire Life

  1. You are 2x to 3x more likely to follow through with a habit if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you are going to implement it.

  2. You should focus entirely on one habit. Research has found that implementation intentions do not work if you try to improve multiple habits at the same time.

  3. Research has shown that any given habit becomes more automatic with more practice. On average, it takes at least two months for new habits to become automatic behaviors.

This brings us to the punchline of this article…

The counterintuitive insight from all of this research is that the best way to change your entire life is by not changing your entire life. Instead, it is best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.

The way to master more things in the long-run is to simply focus on one thing right now.

_____________________________________________________

In the School of Thinking, the number one habit to attain mastery of lateral thinking is the DFQ.

SOT #1 Habit …

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ  DFQ

3 thoughts on “Mastering One Thing at a Time …

  1. Thanks for the stimulating post. Using my very simplistic interpretation of this advice, we have the capacity to change 4-6 habits per year, one after another. (2-3 months per habit). The challenge then is choosing which to do first, then second and so on. An easy one, to get confidence or a high priority one to get bang for your habit changing buck? I am interested in others’ experience and impressions.

  2. We have limited hours , capacity , ability and energy. Choosing what to focus and then keeping that focus to create a change requires a lot of will power , energy so it makes sense to only change one aspect of life at a time and allow that change to disseminate to different aspects of life one at a time !

  3. The research cited above looks like a replay of Pavlov’s research from the 1920s. DFQ is, in that respect, more modern. It can be related to the theory of intellectual capital. From the latter, one can glean that knowledge is generated by repeated use of information. That is what DFQ is about.

The SOT Feedback Logo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *