23 July 2016

The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time


If you want to master multiple habits and stick to them for good, then you need to figure out how to be consistent. It is best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.

Research has shown that you are two to three times more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behavior.

However (and this is crucial to understand) follow-up research has discovered implementation intentions only work when you focus on one goal at a time. 

When you begin practicing a new habit it requires a lot of conscious effort to remember to do it. After awhile, however, the pattern of behavior becomes easier. Eventually, your new habit becomes a normal routine and the process is more or less mindless and automatic. Automaticity is the ability to perform a behavior without thinking about each step, which allows the pattern to become automatic and habitual. Automaticity only occurs as the result of lots of repetition and practice. The more reps you put in, the more automatic a behavior becomes.