I just finished reading a wonderful book, Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change by Leo Babauta.

Last week I introduced the book and shared some background, and this week I’ll share some of the highlights from Leo’s book, which I highly recommend.

Mindfulness. Leo learned to watch his mind. He then learned that the changes he was pursuing were too big, so he sought to pursue extremely small goals.

Make it a priority, make time for the change. It’s not that you don’t have the time it’s that you’re not making the time. You’re not making it a priority.

Automaticity. I think Leo made up that word. He says, “If no true habit forms, you’re constantly relying on willpower, instead of the automaticity of habit.” I love an image he creates about a path in the snow: the first day it’s hard to walk through, the next day it’s a little bit easier, and then easier and easier as you pack down the snow. It’s the same with forming a habit, which gets easier every day until it becomes automatic.

Incentives & Accountability. Create little rewards for working on the habit each day. Report your progress to accountability partners, and make the habit more enjoyable by working on it with a friend.

Being grateful. He shares very zen-like ideas I strive for. For example, being grateful for everything by looking at experiences in a different way: stress about a repair needed at my house comes from having a house, and I’m grateful I have a house. Even when you have a setback in your progress, be grateful you are working on your new habit.

Small steps. To learn to run a marathon, you don’t go out and run 26 miles the first day. You run a small distance. Then add to it, and so on. Or if you want to swim in cold water, plunging in is not the way. The way to do it is go gradually and get used to it. In the same way, take small steps to achieving your goals

Take the long view. If you feel guilty about failing in your effort to make a change, realize that’s normal, and take the long view: realize this is just a blip and you can get back on track to meet your goal for long-term success.

Next week I’ll share Leo’s thoughts on breaking bad habits.

What do you think of Leo’s ideas? Please join the conversation with your comments…

All the best,