Truly great things require consistent, long term effort inspired by purpose and driven by progress1. It is even more of an uphill task when micro progress may be incremental and hard to measure – how much weight have you lost since that last gym session, or perhaps how much better of an artist are you after that last painting, or even how much better is that savings account because of that coffee you made yourself this morning?
Moving averages and running counters never lie. Enough gym sessions and healthy eating lead to significant weight loss. A painting a day for a year made Paris take notice of Van Gogh’s refined impressionism. A coffee made each morning saves over a thousand dollars a year (and many hours waiting in line).
The decision branch at the start is often the hardest part. I’ve found consistently beginning with the smallest and most unrelated of details is enough to get the routine going. It could be the the warm coffee in my hand before I sit down for the next few hours, or perhaps putting away my cellphone at the start of a mindfulness session, or the mere the change of footwear before I head to the gym.
To create a habit is to soften the blow of the decision making process by repeatedly biasing it.