Ask anyone what they want, and they’ll reveal some aspect of themselves they want to change. And yet, most of us find it incredibly difficult … and deep down, change might actually frighten us.
Some change is unavoidable and disruptive. Fortunately, change that we create for ourselves can be utterly transformative without some radical gesture. In fact, for most people, it’s when we try to force quick, massive change that we fail.
So, how do we make it happen? Here are the three primary components of manageable personal transformation:
1. Commit to Constant Improvement
You may be familiar with the Japanese productivity philosophy of kaizen, which translates roughly to “good change.” In practice, it means constant, continuous improvement.
Put simply, you commit to getting incrementally better. Combine this mindset with the quests and personal projects that create happiness and well-being, and you have a very simple philosophy for constantly taking yourself further.
2. Pursue Incremental Change
Constant, continuous improvement doesn’t mean quick, radical change. Sometimes you may well decide to go big, and more power to you if that works.
But what we’re really talking about here is changing ingrained habits and creating new ones. A methodical approach of successive small steps is easier to digest and often more effective.
Incremental change is like compound interest, which Albert Einstein called the 8th wonder of the world. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but it adds up to a mind-boggling amount of change.
3. Develop Micro-Habits
It pays to be less ambitious when creating a new habit, or even breaking an existing bad one. With the kaizen mindset, all you have to do is a bit better than the day before.
Let’s say for some ridiculous reason, I decide I want to run a marathon. I wouldn’t make it 385 yards, much less 26 miles and 385 yards, given that I currently only run if chased.
So instead, I start off running for a minute, and walking for two. The next day I run a minute, walk for two, then run another minute. And so on. By day 30, I’m running for 30 minutes, and now I’m in a position to actually train for a marathon.
Small steps equal big change. And as you pursue these personal development projects, you’ll find your overall level of life satisfaction and happiness improving, which might just be the bigger goal you’re after.
- Get Better at Getting Better: The Kaizen Productivity Philosophy
- The Power of Incremental Change Over Time
- The power of small: why ‘incremental' steps can lead to big change
- Peter Sims on how “little bets” spur big creative successes
- How to Create Habits That Stick
I should just go ahead and apologize for the micro-habits example I gave you. There's no way in hell I'm training for a marathon.
So, those New Year's resolutions? Are they already a distant memory? Good, now you know what doesn't work. For what does, see above. And if a resolution you want to resurrect is to work out each morning, here are 24 micro-habits (disguised as hacks) to make it happen.
Did you know the term “nutritionist” is not an actual medical certification, and you might be getting advice from complete hacks on the Internet? Shocking, I know. The official title you're looking for is dietician, and this dietician goes on an epic rant to point out ways you may have been misled about food. It also might explain this: How Americans Became Obsessed With Vitamins, and Why That’s a Problem.
You already know processed foods are not good for you. Here's another reason they're bad if you can't seem to quit: How Emulsifiers Are Messing with Our Guts (and Making Us Fat).
Rejoice introverts, seems there's actually two types of extroverts (don't say annoying and super-annoying). But it's the big group in the middle–the ambiverts–that have the last laugh. Ambiverts are more likely to be successful and influential, and better entrepreneurs and leaders. Luckily, most of us are ambiverts.
Despite what you hear about hoodie-wearing college kids becoming billionaires (which is the major exception), the typical successful founder is 40. So, at this moment, entrepreneurship is actually declining due to the aging population. But that's changing soon.
Did you know that the fact that you read Further is an indication that you're already more successful than most (or will be)? Go ahead and treat yo self for that. If you're looking to up your game quicker, here's an interesting Fast Company article about how to devote yourself to personal growth.
“Happiness is in the content of moment-to-moment experiences.” So, if you're going to spend your money on something, better to buy experiences, not things. Yes, that article is a few months old, but it's still the best one on this recurring theme.
Do slow drivers, slow Internet, and slow grocery lines drive you crazy? Do you experience slowness rage when forced to walk down the sidewalk at a snail's pace? You're not alone – Why Your Brain Hates Slowpokes. The cure? Mindfulness and gratitude.
If you watch House of Cards, you know that a huge amount of highly-productive evil gets done. Let's assume the evil is not reality, but the White House still gets an amazing amount of work done each day. Here are 4 tips for productivity from a White House staffer. If that's too bureaucratic for you, try The 3-Minute Solution to Procrastination.
After 13 weeks of publishing Further, it seems I've got a new habit. Which is great, because I'm really enjoying it. If you can help spread the word, I'd enjoy it even more:
If you missed any of the previous 12 weeks, you can check those issues out here.