As we set our intentions for our lives, more often than not, we desire quality habits more than static goals like running a personal best at the marathon. We want to have an active lifestyle, we want to continue to challenge ourselves in our careers, we want to foster deeper levels of intimacy with our partners.
These intentions are ongoing habits that require care and continuous attention in order to prosper.
However, we can get so caught up in the measuring and executing of the specific habit we are trying to achieve, that we lose sight of the linchpin habit beneath the habit in question.
For example, this summer Mr. Lively and I developed a consistent habit of doing our private victory each morning. In doing so, we naturally started to go to bed earlier in order to have the energy needed to get up earlier.
As we continued to dedicate ourselves to this private victory, other positive things like watching more wholesome television and budgeting wisely came into our lives as a result. One good habit birthed other good habits.
However, for the past week or two, we worked later than normal. As we worked until 8-11 pm, it became harder to go to bed early. It was easier to unwind from the long day of work by watching tv after we were done working, than to go to bed immediately.
Going to bed closer to 11 or 12 made it much more difficult to wake up at 6am and complete our private victory. It lessened our commitment to quality reading and exercise. Things started to get delayed, pushed aside, and phoned in.
We started to do the bare minimum. And as a result, we got bare minimum results.
Though the habit and intention in focus was the daily private victory, the habit of going to bed early was the linchpin that allowed it all to happen.
Instead of focusing our attention exclusively on the private victory, we could have been more diligent about the linchpin habit of going to bed around 10pm.
I believe that this linchpin habit concept also applies to other intentions we have in our lives. For example, if we want to increase our intimacy with our partner, the linchpin habit that might make that possible could be more honest communication, or maybe it is about having more one-on-one time.
If we want to lower our debt or increase our savings, the linchpin habit more be tracking where our money is going on a daily basis.
If we strive to complain less at work, maybe we need to recognize that the linchpin habit of spending time with specific co-workers enables us to complain more.
Perhaps we need to focus more on the linchpin habits that allow our intentional habits to thrive.