Some people seem to be on top of the world. Theyâ€™re the leaders of their fields, theyâ€™re always on top of things. Itâ€™s common to wonder just what their secret is. Iâ€™ve done it myself. How is it that theyâ€™re capable of doing so much when normal people like you or I find it so difficult to accomplish our own goals?
It can be pretty frustrating when you dwell on it.
I have some lovely friends who fall into this category of â€˜excellent individualsâ€™ so let me try to provide some insight.
First of all, know that the excellence you see isnâ€™t all that they are. The people in the world who seem to have it all together are often battling demons of their own that you have no idea about. Theyâ€™re just choosing to keep their own struggles private (as they have every right to do).
But still, they are doing something right. What could it be?
Thereâ€™s a quote online that Iâ€™ve come across before. Itâ€™s been attributed to Aristotle but closer research shows that it may, in fact, be a quote from Will Durant. It goes like this: â€œWe are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.â€
I first came across this quote years ago and itâ€™s stuck with me ever since. Excellence isnâ€™t one single act but rather the result of many different sustained ones. Hearing this might be disheartening for those of us who arenâ€™t creatures of habit. It wasnâ€™t a very easy pill to swallow for me, considering how haphazard I can be at times.
But thatâ€™s the secret. Work and keep working because sustained momentum will always be more valuable than a single spurt of enthusiasm.
Easier said than done, though. How do you go about forming a habit?
Good question. Several very intelligent people have conducted studies into how habits are formed. A quick Google search will tell you that a habit can be formed in 21 days. A slightly closer look will amend that to 66 days and then even 254 days if the habit is a particularly difficult one.
So it can take anywhere from three weeks to almost three-quarters of a year to create a habit. Itâ€™s starting to sound like excellence is more effort than itâ€™s worth!
I am not particularly excellent at anything but I will say that consciously trying to make certain things a habit has been incredibly useful for me. The only reason that I finished any one of my novels is because I consciously made writing a habit for myself.
I wonâ€™t lie and say that it was easy, or even that it was an entirely linear process. I had bad days and setbacks and even had to start over more than once. But I got there in the end and I definitely credit the majority of my productiveness to the habits I forced myself to create.
There are many different ways of creating a habit but Iâ€™ll share only two of my favourite ones with you. First, I had people to hold me accountable. When I was writing, I was posting my progress online and I had friends whoâ€™d nag me if I wasnâ€™t writing consistently.
Technology holds me accountable as well. Now, it is possible to do this with just a pen and paper but I find an app much more efficient and easy for me to keep track of (I donâ€™t tend to lose my phone the way I might misplace a piece of paper). I use the app â€˜Loop – Habit Trackerâ€™ which is available on the Google Play Store. Itâ€™s easily accessible from its place on my phoneâ€™s home screen and itâ€™s a nice way to keep yourself accountable without relying on anyone else to keep you on track.
Itâ€™s very easy to use. You input the habit youâ€™d like to create and whenever you open it, it shows you a list of habits youâ€™re trying to form as well as your progress. To update it, you just put a check down for every day that youâ€™ve kept to the habit and it allows you to easily track your progress.
Habits, like most other things, start with a single action. Are you ready to start making excellence your newest habit?