Why is so hard for us to develop steady habits when humans are by default, creatures of habit? We wake up, get out of bed, have our coffee, and begin our day the way we usually do. Why are we so accustomed to habits yet often unable to develop steady habits that help us succeed?

When the announcer said his name, Michael Phelps stepped on the starting block and stepped down just as he does before every swimming race. He swung his arms thrice like he has done before every race since he was twelve. Then he took his stand on the block, waiting for the gun to go off.

He immediately knew that something was wrong as water started to seep inside his swimming goggles. By the third and final lap, he could not see anything. Most swimmers would panic if they lost sight during an Olympics race. Not Michael Phelps.

He estimated the number of stroked needed to complete a lap – maybe nineteen or twenty or twenty-one. Midway through, he increased his effort to overwhelm his opponents. The crowd was cheering, but he had no idea who the cheers were for – him or someone else? On his twenty-first stroke, he glided to touch the wall and ripped off his swimming goggles to check the scoreboard. It said WR – World Record – he had won his fourth Gold medal!

To win, we must have a zeal to improve this version of ourselves and start with better routines to build amended habits that slowly bring us to success.

Develop steady habits by working on your cornerstone habit

Habits are important. But some habit patterns are much more important than others. Cornerstone habits are the basic habits that you perform out of your natural flow. These can transform your life by subconsciously triggering other good complementary practices.

There are many studies (including this one by Harvard Medical School) that say that people who exercise regularly, habitually also get to eat healthily and procrastinate lesser and use their credit cards less too. They ultimately, also witness many unexpected positive changes in their lives!

Look for a cornerstone habit that will help you look at yourself differently. Focus on it and stick to it every day. Over time, you will witness incredible results.

Small wins lead you to develop steady habits.

You’re not going to magically wake up one day and find that you’ve mastered something. Good things take time. And steady habits are a great thing.

It’s important to acknowledge the process and enjoy it. Many people fail to even start with good habits because they try too much at once. The idea is to focus on baby steps and not take large ones. Small wins turn small advantages into healthy patterns. These small advantages provide hope that significant results are within reach.

“I try to get six pages a day.”

Stephen King

Whether you are an aspiring author aiming to publish your next bestseller, or an entrepreneur striving to be the next Bill Gates, we hope you reach the top of your field through improved mental and physical habits for the success you desire.

Develop more willpower, and lead yourself to your steady habits.

Did you know that willpower can be learned? It’s like learning how to drive better or working on a muscle that gets strained and fatigued at the gym. So how do we develop willpower and make it work in our favor?

To work on your willpower, do the uncomfortable but necessary tasks first. If making a presentation is more daunting than replying to twenty emails, then do the former first. If saving money is tough for you, then start small and slowly build.

To develop willpower we need to focus on small wins and stick to the habit. The more willpower we use, the stronger it develops, and habit patterns naturally follow, allowing us to succeed the way we desire.

Find a support group and your success through it.

When things sail smoothly, willpower and cornerstone habits sail smoothly, but when we face the odds, many of us revert to the original old habits. When we get exhausted trying, we start to feel that we are kidding ourselves about improving personally.

A support group of people who are inclined to help you, motivate you and keep a check on you comes in useful. A support group teaches us how to believe in ourselves as we see the belief in their eyes. In turn, it helps us to stick to our effort when the chips are down. Check this guide by Roomi on how you can meet new people in New York City.

Reward yourself every time you cross a milestone.

My friend, who wants to do her daily runs and exercises regularly, is also fond of cookies. So she makes a deal with herself and eats a cookie only after she completes her tasks for sixty minutes. Link a reward to a cornerstone habit that you want to develop; it’ll motivate you more to stick to it. This is key in working towards the success you wish for.

If we do the right thing most of the time, Marcus Aurelius wrote in “Meditations,” we will do well for ourselves.

Visualize yourself developing steady habits and reaching success.

When you envision it in your mind, you will do much better.

Coach Bowman used to tell Michael Phelps to watch a particular videotape before he slept and when he woke up. It was a fake video of a perfect race. In this video, Phelps would jump off the block on the whistle, dive into the pool, watch himself swim till the end of the line, and Phelps concentrated on the details while watching it. How his arms were stroking the pool’s walls, how it felt to pull his swimming cap off at the end, and more.

Bowman would say “Put on the tape” to encourage Phelps to be the best he could.

Phelps noticed that would then try to push himself harder. He knew what he was doing because he had seen it in his mind many times. With time, he got faster and faster and crushed the competition.

It is the same with learning to speak publicly or to lose weight. You “put on the tape, ” and visualize yourself going through the routine. Remember, champions do ordinary things extraordinarily well. You will live this life only once, and you should make the most of it. Achieve the success you want and use healthy habits to get there.

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