Lately, I find myself annoyed at some of my habits. I sometimes find the habits boring or monotonous. It will be time for bed, and I am tired, and I find myself aggravated that I need to brush my teeth, wash my face, and take a shower. I just want to sink into bed. Admittedly, these habits make me a more pleasant person to be around with fresh breath and a clean body. And yet sometimes I find myself thinking, “Do I have to do that again”?

In his book, “Atomic Habits”, author James Clear writes that one of the biggest dangers to maintaining habits is boredom. He asked an elite coach from the sport of weightlifting – “What makes a great athlete”? One of the answers the coach shared is, “At some point it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day, doing the same lifts over and over and over.” Okay, so I wasn’t the only one who gets bored with my habits.

So, what is the power of habits? James Clear details how small habits (Atomic Habits) done consistently have a compounding effect. His book includes stories of success achieved through continuous execution of small actions. However, he also warns that it takes patience to see the compounding effect of consistently performing habits. And in the meantime, we may get bored and our motivation falters.

One of Clear’s tips for staying motivated to consistently perform your habits is to follow “The Goldilocks Rule”. Research suggests that the optimal zone for a habit is for it to be a little bit hard but not so hard that you are frustrated and want to quit. It needs to be in the zone of “just manageable difficulty” which may be only 4% beyond your current capability. Combine “The Goldilocks Rule” with consistently challenging yourself to do just a little bit more and you are on your way to developing mastery.

So, the next time you feel bored, unmotivated, or disinterested in a habit, think about what you want to do.

  • Do you need to upgrade your habit just a little bit to keep it interesting?
  • Do you want to push past the boredom to build on the exponential possibilities?
  • Does the habit help you be the person you want to be?

That is the promise of habits. They can make us better people. 

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Welcome to the Listening to the Leader in You Blog

Super-leaders arm themselves with insight. This blog is where you’ll find concepts, ideas, resources and more for honing your full set of leadership capabilities. 
Lynn Schaber, MCC
For the past 20 years, I’ve been privileged to partner with individuals intent on cracking the code to leadership beyond the ordinary.