I’ve recently been reminded of the importance of not starting too many new tasks or habits at once, in order to avoid burnout, and not sticking to any of the newly formed habits. I’m tackling this myself, as I’ve recently committed to writing more each day (have pledged myself to a novel in 3 months), have started a workout challenge, have changed my diet, and am committed to continually bringing exciting content to you, my readers of this website.
So, today, I want to talk about the importance of tackling one new habit at a time. And what to do, if you’ve disregarded these words and are already doing too much at once, and how to get through and maintain all your new, very important habits.
I will walk you through the following sections:
- Why change only one habit at a time
- Key habits to incorporate into your writer’s life
- How to survive if you’re already changing everything at once
Why Change Only One Habit At a Time
To begin with, my advice and the advice of many others is to only tackle one habit at a time. This is to avoid overloading yourself and setting yourself up for failure.
You want to change one thing at a time because:
- You want to avoid overwhelming yourself.
- There’s a higher success rate in maintaining a single new habit for more than 12 months (80%), over trying to maintain multiple new habits at the same time (about 20%), from the author, Leo Babauta.
Leo Babauta, himself trialled out his theory of the Principle of One over two years and managed to accomplish a lot, including:
- writing a novel and a nonfiction book
- losing 40 pounds
- quit smoking
He did this by changing only one habit at a time; he changed one new behaviour every month, in fact. He details all of this in his book, The Power of Less.
Key Habits to Incorporate Into Your Writer’s Life
There are two key habits you want to include into your daily writing life, and these are Writing and Reading
But there are also other aspects of your life that, if you changed or altered, would help you enormously with your writing, indirectly and directly, listed below.
Within Writing itself, can be broken down into a few different areas which you might want to tackle:
- Write Every Day (if you can)
- Practice Freewriting
- Writing Exercises
- Copy Work (practice copying out, word for word, your favourite works)
Within Reading, there are also a number of different aspects to tackle, which I do go into more depth in my article here. But, to simplify things, I’ll reiterate them again here:
- Read Every Day (if you can)
- Read Everything
- Read your Genre well
- Read Non-Fiction
- Read Poetry and Short Stories
- Read the Classics
- Read the Newspaper
Other Habits which will have a direct or indirect influence on your writing life, which you could think about, include:
- Eating Well and Smart
- Being Fit and Healthy, i.e exercising regularly
- Getting enough sleep
- Reducing your sugar intake
- Reducing your caffeine intake
- Drinking enough water
Now, I’ve already written a couple of articles targeting some of these issues or habits; just click the links above, if you want to read more:)
How to Survive if You’re Already Changing Everything at Once!
Now, if you are like me, you’ve probably gone all in, trying to change all your writing habits, and other habits within your life at once, before you even knew about this ‘Principle or Power of One’.
Firstly, I would recommend starting over, and prioritising your new habits and behaviours one by one, and adding a new one into your life every month, as Leo Babauta recommends.
But, if you don’t want to do this – or will not, or can not, then I believe there might be a way through this, without failing terribly at all of them…
Firstly, you could drop one or two of the habits or tasks, trying to lighten your load. But, if you’re like me, you are ready to be a new person, and you Cannot drop anything because Everything is important as each other…Hmmmmm
Well, what to do?
- Have a Plan. Plan what you want to accomplish each day and each week.
- And if (or more likely, when) you don’t achieve it all – DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP.
- Praise and congratulate yourself for what you Do achieve.
- And try again the next day and the next.
- It will take longer, but I believe, you will get there in the end; IF you don’t give up and quit on any of the habits because you’re not being ‘Perfect’. Expect that you can’t get them all right all the time…
Make allowances, be easy and kind and gentle on yourself, especially if you happen to…
- Eat Cake
- Drink too much coffee
- Don’t drink enough water
- Miss a training session
- Don’t write your target amount of words today
- Or don’t read anything today
Just try again tomorrow, and maybe make the things you missed out on today, your first priority tomorrow.
Just don’t give up on any of them (unless you want to start over and try the Principle of One method) and just keep going 🙂
If you have any questions or thoughts on this post, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. I will reply as soon as I can!