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One of my favorite quotes on success comes from Gary Keller, author of The One Thing. He writes:
“Success is actually a short race—a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.”
I love this idea. Success is dependent on habits. And habits are dependent on discipline, but only initially. Once an action becomes a habit, the need for discipline goes away.
Yesterday I shared that it took about two weeks of daily cold showers for me to crank my shower handle from lukewarm to the coldest setting available. Once I was able to withstand the coldest temperature, jumping in the frigid water became a daily habit. The discipline that I needed to endure the freezing water went away after those two weeks.
That was back in 2015. Here I am, three years later, still consistently taking cold showers each morning. Two weeks of discipline led to years of payoff.
Something similar happened when I returned from my family vacation at the end of May last year. I made a commitment to write and publish one post per day in June. Although I missed a few days and only published 26 posts that month, something significant had happened: a daily writing habit had been established.
Fast forward to now. I still write every single morning out of habit. That one month of disciplined writing has led to a habit that has brought me personal growth, connections with an incredible network of readers and bloggers, and a new income stream.
Ever since reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, I have been convinced that habits are the building blocks of long-term success.
Olson shares a similar idea as Gary Keller:
“What’s uncomfortable early becomes comfortable later.”
You need discipline at first to overcome the discomfort. Then, as time goes on, habits take over and things become easy.
This idea can be applied to any domain, whether it’s flossing your teeth, taking cold showers, writing every morning, going to the gym, or cooking your meals more consistently.
You only need to endure discomfort and unfamiliarity for a short time. Eventually, habits will take over and your behavior will become automated.
Whatever positive habit you wish to develop, commit to doing it relentlessly for a short amount of time – a few weeks or a month – until it becomes habitual. Your future self will thank you for the habits you develop today. As F.M. Alexander once said:
“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
Although the bulk of his net worth is invested in index funds, his favorite place to invest in individual stocks is M1 Finance, a site that allows you to build a custom portfolio of stocks for free.
His favorite way to save money each month on his recurring bills is by using Trim, a free financial app that negotiates lower cable, internet, and phone bills with any provider on your behalf.
His favorite micro-investing app is Acorns, a free financial app that takes just 5 minutes to set up and allows you to invest your spare change in a diversified portfolio.
His favorite place to find new personal finance articles to read is Collecting Wisdom, a site that collects the best personal finance articles floating around the web on a daily basis.
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