Monday, 17 October 2011

zen habits: The Single-Changing Method

zen habits: The Single-Changing Method

The Single-Changing Method

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 02:47 PM PDT

Post written by Leo Babauta.

After last week’s article on How I Changed My Life, In Four Lines, I had many people ask the same question:

“I want to change a few different things in my life — health, debt, productivity, etc. Do I really need to do them separately, focusing on one thing only and nothing else until that change is done? Even if they’re in different areas?”

Yes, I would recommend you focus on one change at a time. Here’s why.

It’s very hard to make changes that stick, especially if you’re trying to focus on more than one. In my experiments, I’ve found very consistently that changing multiple things at once doesn’t work very well. Your focus gets spread thin, and in the long run you end up failing to stick to any of the changes. If you’ve tried and failed at multiple changes at once before, you’ll know what I mean.

So do one change at a time, for at least a month. Six weeks is better. Then you can focus on one more change, and so on. That’ll be about six to eight changes a year — changes that will stick. They will last much, much longer than ones that you apply thinner focus to.

What you’ll find is that this is enough. These little changes will really add up over time, and you’ll end up with major changes in your life after a year or two.

This method is effective. I’ve used it for six years to great success, and many of my readers have too. Most people use the less effective method of multi-changing, and fail to stick with things, and blame it on their “lack of discipline”. No, it’s just a less effective method than single-changing.

Patience is tough. We are geared to wanting lots of changes right now, and waiting seems too hard. We want instant gratification, because television and marketing has taught us that this is best. It isn’t. Waiting and doing things slowly is much more satisfying, I promise.

And most of us will read advice like this and say, “No, this doesn’t apply to me. I can do better than most people.” And maybe that’s true. My advice applies to people who have had trouble changing their lives. Those who are good at it might not need to follow the single-changing method. But most of us should do one change at a time.

Try it, and see what happens. I dare you.

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