3 Roles of a Friend in Good Habits Formation

I can see at least three ways friends can support forming good habits right away. Probably, there are more.

1. Role Model.

Human beings are mimicking machines. We mimic without thinking, unconsciously. So, if your friend has some good habits you are in a much better position to adopt similar habits.

This is the one real hack when it comes to developing habits: spend more time with people who already have those habits. You will absorb their behaviors in a background mode, no conscious effort required. Putting some purposefulness into following your friends’ habits will accelerate the process, but it’s not necessary.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

This “function” of friends with regard to developing habits is highly overlooked. We understand that others can teach us something, give us tips, observe us and correct; but we don’t even think we are becoming like them simply by being around them.

2. Encourager.

Most people are not naturally good at celebrating their own wins. BJ Fogg, the expert in behavior design from Stanford University, considers a celebration of your habits the most important aspect of swift and solid progress:

“I would train you in celebrations before teaching you about the Fogg Behavior Model, or the power of simplicity, or Anchors, or recipes for Tiny Habits.”

In other words, he would train you in celebrations before anything else. That’s how crucial it is.

So, the next best thing a friend can do for you to form good habits is reminding you about the celebration.

“Have you done your exercises today? Man, that’s awesome! I’m so proud of you!”

A good friend should be looking for your right behaviors like a hawk and catch you “doing good.”

3. Accountability Partner.

I personally trained over 100 people in developing habits. About 80 of them barely needed my advice. They just needed someone to watch them and keep them on track.

There are different statistics about this phenomenon, but one thing is sure- you have MUCH higher chances for success if you report your progress to an accountability partner (the range was easy from 20% to 80% more chance for success).

Just the awareness that you need to tell somebody if you did your new habit or not makes you many times more likely to follow with the new behavior.

And this is what forming habits is about – consistent repetition.

Be a good friend. Instill habits that you would like your friends to follow. Encourage them like crazy. Keep your friends accountable for their progress.

10 Simple Habits to Greatly Improve Your Social Skills

10 Simple Habits to Greatly Improve Your Social SkillsThose habits are simple indeed. However, they elevated my social skills from the level below zero to a point where people who meet me for the first time think I’m a social butterfly.

I consider their biggest benefit that for half of them you actually don’t need cooperation from others at all. You can practice those habits in the security of your own mind.

1. Notice Other People

Start recognizing the people around you. Look at them and think about them.

What things do you have in common? What things in them spark your interest?

2. Observe Other People

Stop digging lonely in your own mind. Look at the people around and think about them.

How do they behave? How they are behaving toward you? If you had to praise a specific man or woman, what would you say?

3. Mind Games

Once you notice people around you and think about them in the positive light, imagine striking conversations with them.

Visualize how you approach them, say “Hi”, start a conversation and tell them about that nice good thing about them you’ve noticed.

4. Eye Contact

The first step of the conversation is to make eye contact. Stop avoiding other person’s eyesight. If you don’t notice them you won’t talk to them. After breaking eye contact give this person a minute of reflection.

What things do you have in common? What things in them spark your interest? If you had to praise him/her, what would you say?

5. Smile

The next important factor in your becoming sociable is using your smile. Often we are so locked in our fears and insecurities regarding other people that we don’t notice they have their own difficulties. We all are so isolated in our fast-paced society and the simple act of smiling can knock down the barriers between us.

So, make eye contact and smile. You will be surprised by the mix of responses you will get. Some people will flinch, wince or recoil: “A stranger smiling at me? This is so unexpected!”

Many people will look away to break the eye contact, plainly feeling uncomfortable. Many will look at you incredulously: “Is it real? Is this person smiling at me?” They will take a quick peep around looking for the person who you are really smiling at, then get back to you, realizing that they are the receivers of your smile.

And I love best those handful that smile back at me. There will be such people in your case too.

6. Say “Hi”

Or “How do you do” or whatever people in your culture say to each other when they start a conversation.

If you made eye contact and smiled at them and they smiled back at you, it’s a no-brainer.

That’s it. You don’t need to do anything else. No obligation to discuss life and death matters. A simple “Hi” is enough.

7. Praise

Everybody likes to be praised. I’ve never met with the reaction of rejection when I praised a stranger. No one has ever told me “Get lost!” when I praised him.

The range of reactions is wide and mixed, but it always stays in the positive spectrum.

So praise. Look at the stranger and think what you could praise — an image; their clothes; a cool tattoo; maybe certain behavior?

Starting a conversation with praise is rarely as rewarding as talking about the purpose of life, but it’s an order of magnitude easier.

8. Ask about Them.

This is powerful. Everybody loves to talk about themselves. And people think you are so smart and likable when you make it all about them!

I have some contacts with really high-profile people, millionaires and the like. Those folks have a truly magical ability to make me talk.

A hack to make it work: be really curious about them. Reflect that in your language: “That’s fascinating! Can you tell me more?”

Listen with Your Body.

Master a few simple habits which signalize you are listening to the other person. Lean into them. Look at them, preferably right at their face. Make small head movements indicating that you are trying to listen to them with all your might.


This is huge. You may have a habit of asking deep insightful questions, but if you don’t listen to the responses of others, you could’ve as well ask no questions.

It’s a common struggle. We all love to talk, especially about ourselves. Especially when you ask a question, shut up and listen carefully to what they say. You may add another habit on top of that – ask another question at the end of their utterance:

Is that all?
What do you mean by that?

or simply repeat their last words with a questioning tone encouraging them to continue.

Some helpful tips to cultivate this habit:
-make sure you always speak less than the other person,
-say fewer words than the other person,
-shut up; use grunts and gestures to communicate;
-use twice as many questions in your conversations than you use declarative statements
-never give your opinion in a conversation unless you were specifically asked for it

There are more social habits, but the above ones cover the basics. Master the basics and other skills will be easier to practice.

What Kind of Habits Can You Develop in 21 Days?

The only study I ever found on the time of developing a habit concluded it takes from 18 to 254 days and in 50% of cases, it’s longer than 66 days. So, developing a habit in 21 days is not an easy feat.

What kind of habits can you develop in 21 days?


The research I mentioned was about daily habits. Participants were performing their habits once a day. This is the first way to increase your chances – increase the number of repetitions. Continue reading

How to Make Yourself Better Each Day

I know a method that is amazingly effective. It works for me. It works for every human being because we are created to utilize it.

It’s very simple, but it isn’t easy.

It works like magic; it works on autopilot with little to no conscious effort. It works every day.


To make yourself better each day all you need to do is to develop good habits.

Habits have a paramount influence on your life. There are many books written about the topic, zillions of articles, a lot of research done, and people still don’t comprehend how crucial habits are for our wellbeing.

There was research done that concluded about 40% of our actions are habitual. Fine and good. What you don’t get, as well as 95% of the population is that those 40% dictate 90% of life outcomes.

The other 60% of our actions are random in time. One day you eat a carrot, another day you eat a burger. The effects of those actions nullify each other. The effects of your habits compound with time.

Time is the most powerful force in the universe, next to gravity. Your habits leverage this force. A river leveraging time created The Great Canyon. Normally, water is helpless against solid rock. But give it some time (thousands of years) and it will prevail.

You see, by compounding, your habits give your life direction. You are either getting better each day or not. There is no middle ground here. Have a look at this chart, it describes your reality:
The Slight Edge chart

This chart is from the book The Slight Edge. As you can see, good habits set you up for success. Bad habits set you up for failure. The only “middle ground” is a process of switching from one curve to another described in this book.

The Middle Ground

It’s amazing how industrious we get when we hit rock bottom. When a health condition endangers your life or bankruptcy is all too real an option, you can mobilize yourself and frantically fight for your life. You start doing things that move you up above the water’s surface so you can take a deep breath.

But as soon as you get out of your pitiful condition, complacency creeps in. You abandon good habits and slip down the downward curve to meet rock bottom again.

The key to success in life and the way to make yourself better each day is to keep your daily disciplines no matter how you feel. Keep doing your daily disciplines and you will constantly climb the upward curve of life.

The most amazing thing is that you don’t have to make your habits bigger each day. The compound effect makes their positive influence grow with each day. You leverage the power of time.

Good Habits Take Over Your Life

When you occupy yourself with your daily disciplines, the most beneficial side effect is that you take away your energy and time from bad habits. Good habits take over your time-space and your mind-space.

You cannot be in two places at the time and you cannot think two thoughts simultaneously. By focusing on doing your good habits, you are starving your bad ones. If your day is full of positive activities, there is no space for negative ones. If your mind is occupied with doing your work, it doesn’t complain or find excuses at the same time.

How to Make Yourself Better Each Day?

Take the Tiny Habits course. It’s free, it’s ultra-short (less than an hour overall spread over one week) and teaches you as much by practice as by theory. After one week you should have an intimate understanding of building good habits which comes from experience.

Tiny habits trick your mind into supporting your change rather than hindering it. These habits are so small that your mind does not treat them as “stupid” new activities that might overload precious energy resources.

And this is the most crucial aspect of tiny habits. They must be ridiculously small to avoid the mind’s defense mechanism. If you are not tempted to laugh off the small action your new discipline will require as inconsequential, then it’s too bold to be labeled as “tiny.”

The biggest benefit of tiny habits is that they help you develop consistency. What can you achieve by doing one push-up a day? In terms of fitness performance, it’s ridiculously negligible.
The result you want from your tiny habits is the consistency of effort. Once you become consistent, you will be able to step it up to 100 or 500 push-ups a day.

When you start a tiny habit, you will succeed at it the moment you do it. You literally cannot fail to floss one tooth, walk around your house, or do whatever stupid small discipline you choose.

How to Actually Develop Good Habits?

Here are some highlights straight from my experience:

Decide what habit do you want.

Be specific. Design it. How often? When? Where? What will you do? How many repetitions? For how long?
Define the trigger and endpoint for your habit.

Start small

The definition of a “tiny habit,” as described by B. J. Fogg, is a behavior:

  • you do at least once a day
  • that takes you less than 30 seconds
  • that requires little effort

Perform your discipline at least once a day.

Weekly and monthly habits have their place too, but if you cannot build and maintain a daily habit, a weekly one will be a nightmare to develop. Learn the art of habit development in the most efficient way, via daily activity, and only then start more ambitious projects.

Track your habit daily.

“You can’t change what you don’t measure.” — Tony Stubblebine

That’s exactly my experience. When I measure my habits, when I track them, the process of habit development is smooth and efficient (well, compared to NOT tracking, of course). Make sure that the tracking method you choose serves its purpose, but doesn’t become an end unto itself. You shouldn’t spend too much time and attention on tracking. Remember what your main goal is: building a new habit.

Build streaks.

They will help you with your motivation like nothing else. In the end, they will integrate your habits into your personality. You will not be able NOT to perform your disciplines.

The Power of My Habits

Today I woke up and discovered that I earned $120 overnight from my book sales. I have been waking up with such realization (ranging from $10 to $180) every single day for the past year.

What is more, I double those earnings with my customers’ book sales. I advertise their books on Amazon and they are selling them, with profit, every day.

Can you imagine how much simpler is my life because of that?
I got the freedom to liberate my wife from her day job or to downsize my day job to 10 hours a week. I can afford to travel to the States twice a year and meet face to face with my mastermind buddies and amazing guest speakers.

I don’t look at prices in the grocery store.

Can you imagine how much creativity and mental bandwidth released for me because I don’t have to worry about money on a daily basis?

I don’t need to because I built daily habits which helped me to start a journey toward financial independence. I track all of my expenses. I save a portion of each incoming payment. I write every single day. I keep an eye on my Amazon ads every day.
Do you know how much better my life is because I no longer have headaches? I used to suffer from terrible headaches quite regularly. I remember the last such an attack in 2012. I had to lie still on the floor to not to vomit from the pain.

Most probably dehydration was at the core of my migraines. I’ve been drinking two glasses of water first thing in the morning since 2013. I build more of healthy habits – I exercise every day, I eat raw vegetables and fruits every day, and I track my sleep… I was sick only three times since July 2013.

Even my chronic affliction – allergy- greatly diminished after implementing those small daily habits. Thus, I had more energy to hustle like crazy for the last several years, writing and publishing 16 books, and building my book advertising business.

Can you imagine how much better you can become if your health wasn’t a big concern anymore?
Most probably you cannot imagine. You have been struggling your whole life with finances, health or maybe with education or relationships. You are getting better in those areas not by sudden enlightenment, but by building small daily disciplines that are taking care of those areas in the background mode. They work on autopilot. You don’t think about them. You perform them semi-mindlessly AND you make yourself better each time you perform them.

I can compare this experience to breaking into the orbit in a spaceship. At the beginning the energy expenditure and pressure is astronomical. Building good habits is hard work, even if it’s enjoyable.

However, once you are on the orbit you can travel millions of miles with minimal energy expenditure. You gain the momentum and it carries you wherever you want to go.

Develop good habits. That’s the ironclad method to make yourself better each day.

The Power of Habit Book Review

I think that overall “The Power of Habit” was so-so book, when it comes to the concept of changing one’s habits. There are many better positions about this and free content of much higher quality.
Charles Duhigg made an enormous service to the society as a whole by popularizing the concept of habits in the consciousness of the general public. “The Power of Habit” was the first ever book about habits that broke into mainstream.

Because of this book, others could follow with more books about habits and changing an individual’s behavior for good. My mentor, Steve Scott, wrote the whole series of books about habits, a few dozen of them! Gretchen Rubin wrote a brilliant transformative book, Better than Before. Brendon Burchard published his book about top performers’ habits. James Clear and Leo Babauta developed thriving blogs (hundreds of thousands subscribers) around the concept of habits.

Continue reading

Power up Your Self-Talk and Reclaim Your Life

Power up Your Self-Talk
There is very little “self” in self-help. I already said that self-help is a big fat lie.

However, there are still areas where outside help can do very little for you. Self-talk is the most important of them and I tackle this problem in my next book, “Power up Your Self-Talk: 6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life.”

But what is self-talk?

“When we tell ourselves something is too hard, or easy, or that we are successes or failures, it’s self-talk.”

You are familiar with this voice in your head, this is a universal human experience. Unfortunately, it rarely says good things, especially about you. It hinders your progress like nothing else because it’s preventive in its nature. You don’t change because in 99% of cases, your self-talk convinces you to give up even before you start.

You read a self-help book that recommends doing some exercise and you think: “Later”, “It’s stupid”, “That surely will not work for me”, “I’m too stupid for that”, “It’s such a hassle.”

And you skip the exercise. That’s why, despite the countless self-help volumes guru’s readers’ success is not very common.

The authors of self-help books kind of know this problem, but they choose to ignore it. What can they do about it anyway? Sneak into your mind and say something else? They just hope the seed of their message will fall onto receptive soil.

Faulty Advice

Self-help books bombard you with a great advice: “Imagine that…”
“Tell yourself…”
“Ask yourself…”

The advice is completely useless, because it tries to break into your habitual self-talk. You don’t really know how self-insults appear in your mind. You don’t know where the damaging questions (“Why am I such a failure?”, “Why does it always happen to me?”) come from. You cannot stop yourself in the middle of your self-tirade and say something else instead.

Why? Because self-talk is one of your most ingrained habits. I’ll picture its power by comparing it with walking.

You Think. You Walk.

If you are a reasonably healthy human being, you don’t give even an ounce of conscious attention to your steps. You just walk.

Of course, you can break down the whole process into smaller parts. When you walk, you raise your leg a bit, bend a leg at the knee joint so your foot won’t touch the surface, lean forward just a tiny bit, move your left arm, lift your right arm- both synchronized so you keep your balance, move the leg forward, put the foot on the ground, move your center of weight and support your weight on the lead foot.
Power up Your Self-Talk
Changing how you walk is possible, but extremely hard. You will fall back into your old walking habits as soon as your attention gets away from conscious control over your movements. You can steer your self-talk in the same fashion in which you can control your steps. In theory, it’s pretty simple. In practice the power of habit will always win and you fall back to old patterns.

Those good tips from self-help books are like advice to raise your foot a bit higher, bend the knee harder or take bigger steps. They may work in isolation and when you put your whole attention on implementation. They try to affect your thinking patterns, which are already firmly established. In fact, your thinking patterns are fossilized.

Fight Habit with Habits

It’s easier to start a new habit than to modify an existing one. And removing an old habit is downright impossible. They are hardcoded in your brain. Besides, removing your self-talk altogether is not possible. It’s one of the things that make us human. You also cannot replace self-talk with some new habit.

Improving of your self-talk, as hard as it is, is the only option.


And I can teach you how to do it. In fact, I have four times more chances to teach you this skill because I’ve been there and I’ve done that. My self-talk was crappy. I insulted myself habitually. My self-esteem wasn’t even so-so. I had a negative spiral in my life.

I thought badly about myself, I thought I’m a failure and that prevented me from taking any action. Why bother? I was a failure, so I would failed again. With no action no improvement could happen in my life. So my life was getting worse and my self-talk gathered more ‘evidence’ that I was a failure.

But I turned my life around and I turned it by taking action, not by talking to myself. Well, I thought so. Anyway, my self-talk is definitely better now than it was six years ago. I modified my inner conversation from the very beginning, I just wasn’t aware I did.

I reverse-engineered what I was doing that caused a shift in my self-talk.

Improve Your Mood

First, you need to start feeling better. Crappy self-talk beats the crap out of you. Or rather, it beats the crap into you, so it stays there ready to emerge every time you want to do something outside the status quo. Thus, for the most of the time you feel like sh*t. No wonder, if you say to yourself things like:

“You worthless piece of sh*t!”

There is little sense in trying to change your life, if you feel beaten to death all the time. You need some habits that will bring sunshine into your internal world.

Power up Your Self-TalkThe easiest remedy? Smile.

Know Thyself

Then, you need self-awareness. A sh*tload of it. The grip of your self-talk over your life is so strong mostly because you don’t even notice it. It’s like those elephants which were chained as a puppy. They learned that chain constraints their movements and they stopped trying to free themselves. Later on the powerful animals don’t even try to break from a thin chain.

A lot of your self-talk comes from your childhood and adolescent years. You were weak, vulnerable and not used to using your rational mind to solve life problems. Later, as an adult, you don’t even notice that your childish self-talk keeps you in captivity.

Hence, you need a few habits that boost your self-awareness. You need to notice your self-talk to be able to do something with it. This is where most authors and coaches fall. They give you advice that you are not able to implement. I’ve just listened to a podcast with a top psychiatrist. He advises people with depression to stop when they feel sad, overwhelmed or disappointed with themselves and analyze their thoughts: Is this even true? Is this always true? Why do I think this?

The problem is those poor folks aren’t aware when they feel sad, overwhelmed or disappointed with themselves. It’s their default state! They have no idea WHEN to stop the vicious cycle of self-beating that goes on autopilot.

You need to practice simple habits, easy to do, day in and day out, which will bring to your attention to what’s actually going through your mind. Only then you can stop and challenge your thoughts.

Power up Your Self-Talk

Once you do something to elevate your mood and gained some self-awareness, you can actually do something with your self-talk. One of the most prevailing thoughts at the beginning of my transformation was “It’s impossible.”

It was so annoying! Whatever I tried to do, whatever I dreamed of “it’s impossible” had appeared in my head. Thus, I introduced a new expression into my vocabulary. Whenever “it’s impossible” crossed my mind, I replied with a mantra singing in my mind to a catchy tune four times “It’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible, it’s possible.”

There are also other methods that work on a more subconscious level, like gratitude journaling.
Power up Your Self-Talk
And once you start doing something about your negative self-talk, once it’s improving, your whole life improves.

…and Reclaim Your Life

I learned how to temporarily boost my mood often. I became more self-aware of what was going through my mind on a daily basis. At last, I started responding differently to my offensive self-talk.

This was a lengthy process between the first decision and getting tangible results. It took me eight months before I published my first book. It took me 17 months before I earned significant amount of money from my side hustle.

But some results were speedy. I almost doubled my reading speed in a month. I achieved my dream weight in less than half a year.

However, the most important effect was my overall quality of life. As one review on Amazon says:

“I had no idea how much I mentally or verbally beat myself up all the time.”

I had no idea how this self-beating kept me down all the time.

I improved everything in my life. I doubled my income. I was sick only three times since July 2013. I bought the first house for my family.
Power up Your Self-Talkugust 2018
I started three successful new careers – as an author, a life coach and a book marketer. I pray about 10 times more than six years ago. I obtained a few professional certificates and changed my job getting 30% salary raise. My answers on Quora got over 5 million views. I published 15 books which sold over 50,000 copies.

All of this happened because I dealt with the vicious voice in my head.

Take Action

I’m far from being a master of my internal dialog. But I significantly dropped the level of emotional turmoil in my life caused by what I tell myself. My self-talk didn’t change enormously, I still talk to myself like a drunken felon all too often. But it doesn’t hurt me as much as in the past.

And most importantly, it doesn’t stop me right in my tracks. I act. I’m above the whispers in my head. I steer the direction of my life, not the random thoughts that are bouncing inside my skull.

I want the same for you. Take action.
Sign up below and I’ll send you a notification at the book launch, so you can grab it for 99 cents.

3 Simple Habits to Change Your Personality for Good

Your personality is the conglomerate of your habits because your habits shape you into who you are.

Thus, to transform your personality, you need keystone habits – the habits that beget the creation of more good habits without much effort.

“Keystone habits are habits that have a multiplier or a domino effect in your life.” — Brian Tracy

How do keystone habits provide this domino effect? By providing more good habits without friction.

Usually, developing a new habit is a hurdle with a doubtful outcome. You need to pay attention to your new behavior, cultivate it, track it, you fail, and you get frustrated… A keystone habit eliminates 90% of this cycle

You simply feel like trying something new and you do it without much conscious effort.

There are two keystone habits known to science. They were enumerated in the book “The Power of Habit:”

1. Exercise.

The power of exercise is not solely in better health, performance and energy levels. I say these things are just by-products of exercising.

Six years after going back to my pushups I finally decided to get serious about my weight. I changed my diet. I lost several pounds.
3 Simple Habits to Change Your Personality for Good
My years-long exercise discipline taught me the value of perseverance on a truly gut level. When I read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, the book that argues that perseverance is a foundation of any results and can catapult you to a great level of success, the message immediately clicked in my head.

Despite the fact I hadn’t pursued any personal development for 16 years, I decided to try Jeff’s approach.

The rest is history. I found my purpose, my reasons to live. I developed dozens of good habits. I rebuilt my life.

2. Healthy Eating.

Scientists are trying to find the perfect diet to fight off those diseases by eliminating different kinds of food: sugar; fat; dairy, etc. They generally overlook, however, the fact that there are societies that are free from those diseases and yet still consume a lot of sugar, fats, dairy, and meat. But those societies consume these in their natural form, not processed.

A straightforward conclusion can be drawn here: you can eat a reasonable amount of dairy products or high-fat foods, which in themselves give nutrition, but not processed foods containing these nutritious elements. When we eat processed food, we’re consuming the results of an artificial food production process, which is more difficult for our bodies to absorb.

I know people on Paleo diet and on vegan diets who thrive. There is no single diet appropriate for all. People vary on anatomic levels. Japanese cannot eat the exact same things European eats.

Eat as much of natural foods as you can. The simple rule of thumb to discern between natural and processed food is: was this food you are going to eat living somewhere a few days ago? You know, apples grow on trees, pizzas don’t.

The third habit has the power to transform your personality as well.

In this podcast episode, Shawn Achor, the author of “Happiness Advantage” tells about an astounding experiment. A 4-year kid with a pessimism gene was being asked for one month each morning about three new things he was grateful for. It made him a hardcore optimist for the rest of his life.

Wow! Now brace yourself, they did the same with an 84-year-old guy who had the same gene. The same thing happened.

Gratitude is a powerful force. Practicing it just a few minutes a day can rewire your brain.
I didn’t do genetic tests on me, but I suspect I have this gene too. Before reading ‘The Slight Edge’, I was a gloomy guy. After listening to ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy, I started a gratitude diary about my wife. I wrote down just one to three things every day describing what I admired in her, what had she done for the family that day or even how pretty she is.

A habit of gratitude is the easiest on Earth to cultivate. Little I had thought about that journal. It was such a tiny thing, but it started a gratitude avalanche in my life. Today I keep three gratitude diaries – one about my wife, one about my kids and one “general purpose” diary. Each day I jot down from 15 to as many entries as I can fit into a page.

You can become a gratitude fountain in no time and reprogram your brain to positivity. Each morning write three new things you are grateful for.

How Long Does It REALLY Take to Improve Your Life?

How Long Does It REALLY Take to Improve Your Life?Changing one’s life is a lengthy process. We are so impatient. We dream about overnight success or a one-week life change. Somehow, it’s so easy to forget that your lifespan is measured in decades. One night or one week is only a tiny fraction of your life.

So how long does it really take to improve your life?

The results vary, as they say. They are three known methods to change one’s behavior:
-an epiphany
-a change of environment (what surrounds you)
-a change of habits

Here comes the triple discovery about epiphanies:

  1. An epiphany changes human life the most quickly, sometimes in a heartbeat or within a few minutes.
  2. Epiphany stories get an insanely disproportionate amount of media coverage.
  3. An epiphany is impossible to engineer.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the stories of grandparents who dramatically changed their lifestyle and improved their health because their sweet little grandkids told them not to die too soon. Or the stories of addicts who met Jesus. Or stories of people who had a near-death experience and came out of that totally different.

A moment of decision, one short event and they turned their lives around.

I’m sure you’ve heard such stories because they got extremely heavy media coverage. They draw attention. They spark interest. They sell. Thus, just about every single “epiphany story” is covered. They are a no-brainer for media outlets.

And it tricks you into thinking that an epiphany is a way to improve your life.

It’s not.

The one thing the media doesn’t mention when covering those stories is that every single time an epiphany is happening TO the person. Nobody has ever engineered an epiphany. It’s impossible.

In my opinion, it takes a higher power to create an epiphany. For materialists, it takes an absolutely complex, random set of circumstances to make an epiphany happen. You know, almost as the complex set of circumstances, as a completely random creation of the universe with a myriad of metrics and laws that make a human life in this universe possible.

Anyway, you cannot create an epiphany. You can only hope it will happen to you one day. And it’s a poor strategy for taking control of your life.

A change of environment can be relatively fast. For example, you move to another country to get a new job and your life accelerates like crazy. Or you get married, move out of your parents’ house and start a family. Or you get pregnant and your pregnancy motivates you to improve your life in a way that has always eluded you.

The triple discovery about the change of environment:

  1. It’s not easy to engineer either.
  2. Your mindset always stands in the way.
  3. Hence, it doesn’t happen as often as we tend to think.

How often do you change a job, move to another city/country, or get married or pregnant for the first time in your life? Much more often than experiencing an epiphany, but still not very often, right?

Such major life shifts have also a tendency to happen to us. I changed jobs because I was fired. Our first kid wasn’t planned. Ha, ha, nor either of the two following kids.

Here is the thing: the longer you live, the harder is to introduce a significant change of environment. When I decided to improve my life at the age of 33, I had been married for 12 years, had three kids, a 35-year mortgage and a full-time job. I simply could not leave my old life behind.

People get married, have kids and change jobs all the time, and a life change does not follow those events. Why? Because no matter how your environment changes, you take your old mentality with you every time. Your personal philosophy is the same and it only MAY shift in new circumstances.

But one of our internal brain mechanisms is RAS that filters out everything around and provides to your conscious mind only a deliberately curated ‘press releases’ of reality. In other words, you are always looking for facts and arguments that confirm your existing philosophy. And you don’t change much.

Hence, the significant improvement of life as a result of changing what surrounds you is not common. It happens, but it doesn’t happen every time.

Change of Habits

On the other hand, if you follow the route #3 – changing your habits – it happens every time. In his book, “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg tells a story of some research. Scientists were interested in the reason behind changing one’s life… Some people are able to improve their lives and others aren’t? What’s the factor that explains it? What’s the first cause?

They started with normal bias, they were looking for tracks of enlightenment or change of surroundings. They thought that a sudden conversion, death in a family or some other tragedy may be good explanations for the change in human behavior. They interviewed people who were able to bring their lives back on track and they were amazed by the discovery of the first cause.

It was a change in habits. In fact, often it was a single new habit that started the avalanche of improvement.

What I conclude is that routes #1 and #2 are only shortcuts to changing one’s habits. If you convert because of enlightenment and join a religious order your daily life is much different from it was. If you move to another country, you lose many of your old habit triggers and it creates space for building new habits.

An enlightenment and the change in your surroundings don’t change your life directly; they change your life because they lead you to change your habits, thus the improvement of your life.

And changing your habits takes months, not days. Developing a single habit takes more than a couple of months on average. That is, according to the only widely quoted study from the European Journal of Psychology about this subject. I think this study is overly optimistic because it was skewed toward success in laboratory conditions. In a real life, it takes even longer.

And yes, a single habit. Every expert says that it’s exponentially easier to develop one habit at a time than two.

Conclusion: you need at least a few months to improve your life.

Of course, assuming your new habit has the life-changing capacity. It is one thing to start a private journal and write for five minutes a day, and another to start writing a book for two hours a day and then actually publish it.

Usually, a single habit is not as influential and you need a synergy of several habits to convert it into a significant improvement of your life.

How long does it REALLY take to improve your life?

Exercise is a keystone habit, one of the two discovered by scientists looking for the first cause of permanent change in an individual’s behavior. A keystone habit is a habit that leads to a cascade of other positive actions. In other words, it leads you to develop more good habits, even without your conscious decision and seemingly without all the effort connoted with developing a new discipline. Brian Tracy explained it most aptly:

“Keystone habits are habits that have a multiplier or a domino effect in your life.”

If your intention is not set at the improvement of your whole life and if the scope of the habit is short of life-changing capacity, even introducing a keystone habit won’t help you improve your life fast.

It took me about seven years.

In 2006 I returned to my habit of doing a single consecutive series of pushups to the point of failure. I just wanted to lose some weight.

Exercising was still a keystone habit and I developed more good habits without conscious reflection or much effort. In a few months, I coupled my morning workout with my morning prayer and that solidified both of the disciplines.

A few years down the road I started using to-do lists and checklists to subdue the chaos of my daily responsibilities. I bought a pull-up bar and started doing pullups and chin-ups almost on everyday basis. At the beginning of 2012, I finally modified my diet into something healthier than the donuts I was so fond of.

So I got 3-4 new good habits thanks to my exercise habit. They emerged spontaneously, exactly like a keystone habit works.

The Improvement Process

But it took me six long years to arrive at this level. It also prepared me for the message of The Slight Edge. You see, I always thought success was something grand, thus out of my reach. In his book, Jeff Olson explained that success is a few simple disciplines repeated over time.

I was skeptical like hell, but I had a few experiences from my own life when I followed some small disciplines and succeeded. The most prominent and fresh one was my pushups habit. I didn’t lose weight, but my strength increased. My performance climbed over 300% in those six years. This experience made me think that maybe Olson wasn’t a self-help idiot guru and maybe I can succeed in my life.

A year later, in August 2013, I had dozens of new daily habits and I started a new career; I became a writer.

It took me seven years since starting my first habit to get out of the life of a quiet desperation and actually doing something to improve my life.

That’s LONG! But still only 18% of my lifespan as of today.

And it took me FIVE more years to truly improve my life, not only myself.

In the last five years I beat hundreds of fitness records, published 13 books, bought our first home, started an online coaching practice, passed a few exams and obtained a few professional certificates, wrote over 1,750,000 words, doubled my income, published over 1,000 answers on Quora, sold tens of thousand copies of my books, changed a job, started a book advertising business, downsized my job to halftime… My life not only improved, it exploded.

However, a few most impactful things from the above list happened in the last TWO years and the most significant ones – downsizing my day job and the success of my Resurrecting Books service – happened in the last year.

And let us never slacken in doing good; for if we do not give up, we shall have our harvest in due time.
– Galatians 6: 9

It took me so much time to get where I am now. The journey was exhausting. If someone told me in 2006 that it would take me the next twelve years to “arrive” where I want to be, I don’t think I would have decided to go through this process.

I remember how discouraged I was just two years ago. I had been on this journey for four years and it seemed like my efforts barely brought any fruits. I was stuck in my day job. My book sales dwindled to about 250 copies a month. My marriage was in shambles. I was out of steam. I had to draw from my salary to pay for the services needed for my side hustle. My bank account balance didn’t bring optimism.

Four fricking years of hustling like crazy for very little reward.

But I didn’t stop.

So how long does it take to improve your life?

Your whole life. This process never ends. If you want true satisfaction from life, you need to keep progressing. You will never “arrive.”

Say farewell to the illusion that you will ever be fully content with your life. Nope. The whole joy comes from improving, not from improvements. Life is a process, not a destination.

Accept that it will take years or decades to improve your life. It’s normal. Stories of overnight success are abnormal. They are carefully curated in media so the long journey seems like overnight success or they are simple aberrations.

Don’t aim for overnight or overweek success. Overdecade success is much more likely, doable, durable, lasting, and frankly – more enjoyable.

Change takes time. Suck it up. Keep going.

Is Continuous Self-improvement a Skill that Can Be Learned?

Yes and no.

No, because it’s not a skill. You cannot say that being a great doctor or a great basketball player is a skill. It’s a whole skillset that makes a person a doctor or player. There are many skills that mesh into being a person who continuously grows.
Continuous self-improvement

It’s not a habit as well, at least not in the literal sense of this word. It’s not a single activity that you repeat over and over again. But in the broad term, yes, it’s a habit, “a settled or regular tendency or practice; a usual way of behaving.” However, if we pick this meaning, it comes back to being someone who is dedicated to self-improvement.

And yes, you can learn that, because becoming someone is learning, isn’t it? No one was born a great doctor, pilot or a basketball player. Also, cultivating specific habits isbecoming. According to the word’s etymology, your habits denote who you are.

So, the best way to learn continuous self-improvement is to cultivate appropriate habits.

I. Habits of the Mind.

Who you become is more about your attitude than your action. You wouldn’t have let an overwhelming majority of first-year medicine students to make a surgery of your kid, would you? But in five years or so, this young man or woman will become a highly skilled surgeon… if they have the appropriate mindset that will push them through their studies.

At the beginning, we are all newbies and we fail often. But if you have the proper attitude, you will not stay failed.

Several habits that directly or indirectly help with keeping your mind on the course of self-improvement are:

  1. Cultivating vision.

You won’t become someone else on a whim, there has to be a deeper purpose in your quest or you will not persevere.

I repeat my personal mission statement every day. I was on a progress fair in September, an event dedicated to personal development. I spoke with several coaches, authors, and entrepreneurs who had a stand. Every single one of them had their own mission statement.

Ask around, ask your workmates, neighbors, and family if they have their mission statement. I bet the ratio of people knowing their mission will be much lower among your peers (if it’s above zero, it’s already decent).

There are other ways of cultivating vision. Every day I read a few sentences from three books that shaped my personal philosophy, skim through about 100 quotes that helped in solidifying my worldview and look at my vision board.

The exact method is secondary. The must-have is to regularly refer to your vision of continued growth.

  1. Meditation.

There is a zillion of benefits of meditation. You can focus better, your health is better and so on. But I consider the foremost advantage of meditation that you become more self-aware.

It’s so hard to get a grip on what’s going in your mind for normal Westerners (and with the globalization of the culture we all slowly became Westerners). Meditation deals with that. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and try not to think. Good luck.

Because you focus on nothing else and your thoughts emerge spontaneously, you cannot help but notice them. At last. It may be the first time that you are conscious of how they arise. Such self-knowledge is necessary if you want to improve, otherwise your subconscious beliefs and habits can torpedo all your good intentions.

  1. Prayer.

It is like a mix of cultivating the vision (purpose) and meditation (self-awareness) with a divine element. A great mix, if you ask me.

II. Habits of the Body.

You need to be in a decent shape to improve continuously. It doesn’t mean you have to be 100% healthy. Some great people in the history were crippled in a way or another (e.g. Maya Angelou, Hellen Keller). It’s simply so much easier to grow when your body doesn’t hamper your progress.

  1. Sleep well.

Only about 2% of the population have genes that allow them to function optimally with 6 and less hours of sleep a day. The rest of us need more.

Sleep needs are individual. Doctors say we should sleep 8 hours a day. Scientists found that in primitive cultures, where people don’t screw with their daily rhythms with artificial light, humans sleep 6.5-7.3 hours on average. Keep in mind that those folks also suffer much less stress than urban dwellers, live in an unpolluted environment and don’t eat processed foods. They also get a healthy dose of physical activities.

In modern culture, our minds and bodies experience much more of those negative factors and get too little the positive ones. Thus, we need more sleep to absorb all the ‘damage’ of our lifestyle.

  1. Eat well.

Almost all diets are BS. One rule is true in every diet: don’t eat processed food. Of course, it’s close to impossible nowadays, but you should aim to minimize processed foods in your diet to the bare minimum.

Which foods are processed? Generally, those that weren’t alive a couple of days ago, or if they were processed, it was done by natural means. E.g. grain or groats that were dried.

  1. Move well.

Sitting is a new smoking. I know best by myself. I sit almost every day over 10 hours a day.

Walking is a natural physical activity for humans and we don’t do that enough. Smuggle short and intensive exercises into your day. I do that with pushups, dips, and pull-ups. Move, move, move. Being a potato coach may not be a shortcut to death, but surely it’s a shortcut to low-quality life a few decades down the road.

Physical activity is connected with creativity. Almost every artist and entrepreneur admit that they got the best ideas while running, walking or working out.

III. Habits Mastery.

The fastest way to become dedicated to personal development is to create new habits, like the ones I instanced above. The fastest and most reliable way to develop a habit is to keep tracking of it, especially at the initial stage. Good habits don’t develop on their own, you need to put some conscious effort into it.

  1. Don’t break the streak.

This is the basic level of habit tracking applicable practically for every habit. Whether you want to exercise, eat more vegetables, write 400 words a day, speak to a stranger or do a random act of kindness, you should have in place a practice of checking on yourself at the end of the day if you have done what you resolved for, or not.

It’s a powerful motivational technique. If you do something once and notice it, it’s not a big deal. But if you continue the next day and keep a record, that’s another story. You start to be attached to the outcome. If you build a streak of several days with your new habit, you will be more likely to continue. And each day you make the streak longer and your motivation grows too.

  1. Keep a log.

This adds another level to your tracking. It’s not necessary nor wise to keep such a log for every habit you want to develop, because it puts an additional workload on your shoulders.

Keeping a log not only tells you if you have done your discipline but also how you’ve done it. It provides motivation, but also information.

I keep a writing log. Writing is an important part of my life and I want to keep sure I’m on track with this habit. In my writing log, I note down the length and topic of each of my writing sessions.

Thanks to this log I can tell my writing speed. I can also tell that since I started it in September 2013 my writing speed almost doubled and I write as fast in Polish and in English. Those data would’ve been unattainable for me if I haven’t kept the log.

  1. KISS.

The rule of thumb is that your tracking cannot hamper your habit development. Keep it stupid simple!

If you exercise every day in your home gym, keep a wall calendar there and mark on it each day when you completed your workout. If you track your expenses, keep a pocket notepad with you and write down each purchase as soon as you make it. If you track your calories, have a Fitness Pal app on your mobile and put your entries right after a meal.

Tracking and doing your habit cannot be separated in time and space or it won’t work. Also, it must fit your lifestyle. Mingle your habit in your tracking into one activity. If you don’t have a smartphone, you obviously cannot have a Fitness Pal app on your mobile.

Keep it simple, don’t complicate and you will develop your habit faster and it will be more solid.

Continuous self-improvement is not a skill, it’s a lifestyle, it’s who you are. If you want to modify who you are, modify your habits.

Your attitude is more important than any other aspect, but you shouldn’t neglect your body. Your body is your support system. Without good shape and health, your growth is hanging on a thin thread instead of being reliably supported.