The sun glows and burns on a time scale so large it’s virtually forever. The energy is within.
The sun is your metaphor for your internal drive.
A brick house is built piece by piece. A bricklayer slots in one at a time, reaching over to the stack, grabbing a red rock in her palm, guiding it to its rightful plot. (Only one brick fits in her hand at a time.)
The brick house is a metaphor for creating something new and solid little by little.
A jigsaw puzzle pours across the table like flat little slabs from a rock slide. You flip all the pieces upright and begin shuffling them around to set the corners and the sides. You organize colors and pieces of image roughly according to the picture on the front of the box. You get lucky and a few piece click together without even trying. The rest is slowly assembled relative to all the parts of the big picture.
The jigsaw puzzle is a metaphor for putting all the pieces in place for the various elements of your plan and how they connect with the rest of your world. Your habit is represented by a few pieces of the puzzle, but there’s a bigger picture.
Now, to briefly explain.
A new habit is most successfully sustained by intrinsic motivation, that is, your interest in the activity for its own sake — it’s fun, or it’s inspiring, or it makes you feel physically good. Your new exercise should be enjoyable in and of itself, otherwise it won’t work. Your new daily foreign language study should be exciting and deeply engaging and put you in a flow state, otherwise you’ll quit.
If you’re starting a new fitness routine in January, your resolution should be something like: I will try at least a dozen different kinds of exercise until I find one I like doing because I like doing it. (Not, I will run on the treadmill 3 times per week from now on I swear to god, arrr.)
The brick house:
Next, build that puppy (that habit) bit by bit. Busting your behind right away won’t build the house. When starting a new habit, do a tiny bit the first week, and then do two tiny bits the second week, and so on.
This incrementally building approach is one of the hardest things for people to do. Everyone wants to start huge. Go big or go home, they say. But, the truth is the saying should be go big and that will make you go home. So, go small, build, and sustain.
The jigsaw puzzle:
Lastly, those wondrous and confabulatory paper puzzles on the coffee table. Put the pieces of your calendar together around your new habit, bit by bit. Each week, add new pieces that integrate with your new habit. Put the pieces of support together bit by bit: call a few personal trainers, take the time to choose who you like the best. Learn several new recipes and settle on the one or two easiest and tastiest. Get the new gear you need over time. Get support from your partner or friends to propel you forward through the dips. Experiment with the best times of the days and weeks for your new routines.
Your new amazing habit:
Your authentic drive and needs are your biggest source of fuel. Disappointingly, nothing great happens overnight. Excitingly, you can make great things happen piece by piece. Integrate your new great thing into your life, and vice versa. Coordinate timing, relationships, and any element needed to adapt and adjust to support the new forever you.