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Your Result

Make meaningful progress by taking consistent action

To be happier, consider a habit that will help you make meaningful progress by taking consistent action.

Why this aim is likely to make you happier

One of the keys to happiness is an atmosphere of growth. We need to feel like we’re learning, growing, moving forward, and bettering ourselves. While one-off accomplishments can give a boost, long term change comes from consistent action. 

Countless aphorisms remind us that small steps add up over time: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Consider how consistent incremental actions will help you achieve a bigger goal. Remember, what we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while. We often overestimate what we can do in a short time, and under-estimate what we can do over the long term, if we work consistently.

As you identify your aim, frame it as an action, not an outcome. Not “Learn Italian” but “Memorize three new vocabulary words each day during lunch.” Not “Get in shape” but “Walk for 25 minutes each morning.”

Aims you might consider

Write one sentence a day

Every day, sort through photos from that day’s date in your camera roll

Take a 20-minute walk every morning

Read for 20 minutes before bed

Tackle clutter by following the “one-minute rule”: if there’s something you can do in less than a minute, do it without delay

Observe a weekly “Power Hour,” where once a week, you spend an hour crossing nagging items off your to-do list

Divide a challenging tasks into small steps, and take one step each day

Know Yourself Better

Self-knowledge is an essential aspect of happiness, because we can create a happy life only on the foundation of our own nature, our own values, and our own interests. 

As you consider ways to make meaningful progress by taking consistent action​​, ask yourself:

  • Do you prefer a big first step or smaller first step? Some people get a boost from tackling a bold, dramatic challenge, and some find a gradual approach more manageable.
  • Sometimes it’s easier to do something every day rather than some days. Consider whether you’d find it easier to make consistent progress if you kept a daily habit.
  • Learn how you respond to expectations by taking the free Four Tendencies Quiz.
    • If you’re an Obliger, how will you get the outer accountability you need?
    • If you’re a Questioner, what is your reason for taking this action? Have you set it up in the way that’s most efficient for you?
    • If you’re an Upholder, how will this fit into your routine?
    • If you’re a Rebel, how does this action align with an identity or value you’d like to cultivate?

A few notes of caution…

  • Beware the temptation of stopping at a finish line, such as doing something for thirty days. If you reach a milestone, give yourself a gold star and keep going. It’s exciting to hit a milestone, but it’s only one milestone that you pass in a lifetime of keeping a habit.

  • Be specific: What is the action you will take? What is a manageable increment to achieve every day?