Habits go through a certain life-cycle before they are fully embedded within our mainframe so-to-speak: thoughts turn to words, words contribute to action, and action builds a lifestyle. I was listening to JJ Redick’s podcast episode with Pat Beverley when Pat dropped this gem of a framework early in the episode. I am grateful to have come across it as I don’t think I have found such clarity with which to express the process of building a habit, and by extension, a lifestyle.
There is no skipping from thoughts to lifestyle, each stage must be duly experienced to ensure sustainability. Lifestyle is not an outcome, it is by its nature a process. When consistency is broken, the lifestyle inevitably changes, often for the worse.
Getting from a thought into words sounds simple enough. What Beverley mentioned he does was set intentions for himself for the day, week, or month ahead. It is not enough to have these in his head, he would write down on post-it notes the things he would want to achieve and have them in full-view at all times. This means putting them on his desk at home, side-dresser, among other places. The words, the intentions, he writes for himself makes it more tangible than a thought that is vulnerable to escaping our mind’s eye.
The premise of having the words in your head is to act as a trigger for action. Seeing the words littered around different parts of life will reinforce the need and desire to take action on them. Like anything, time plays a major role in this process. The key, I suppose, is to trust that the act of writing down the intentions will have an effect. The other thing to add is that action can be taken in small or large increments. Action even on a small scale is still movement towards the right direction. In the beginning, it is all about attacking the inertia associated with the activity, after a while it will take care of itself.
Repeat an action enough times and it will eventually become a habit. If we were to break down what a lifestyle is, I would say it is a collection of habits: daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, yearly. A common thread that binds the transitions from each phase is repetition. That is the name of the game.