Anyone who’s ever tried to quit smoking, eat less or exercise more knows that changing personal habits is hard. The more often we repeat a routine behavior, the less we need to think about it. That’s one reason why entrenched behaviors are notoriously difficult to change—they happen without thinking.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could focus on one or two simple behaviors that would lead to increased productivity, morale, and team spirit? You can, if you find the right behaviors to work on—keystone habits.
The new year means new opportunities, experiences and... new goals. But the goals we set in January are often long-forgotten by July. Or worse, they hang around our neck like an albatross reminding us of our inaction. Bright lines can make the difference between success and failure.
The motivation to reduce cognitive dissonance drives much of our irrational behavior. We choose to deceive ourselves rather than admit we were wrong. Being able to recognize when we are in a state of dissonance can help us make better decisions and improve our relationships.
Both talent and effort are necessary for achievement. Without talent, you can put in lots of time and not get very far. And talented people often fail for lack of stamina. While talent depends on intelligence (the smarter you are, the faster you learn), effort is directly related to self-control or "grit." Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It’s grit that keeps a person going long enough to put in the 10’000 hours of dedicated practice needed to achieve mastery in a field.
Self-control—the ability to delay gratification, concentrate on a task, resist a temptation, or control emotions—is key to success at work and in life. The good news is that we can improve our willpower.