Every time I speak about my daily practices — what most people call habits — people ask me “How do you do it?” Here’s the truth about how.
In a conversation with a friend last week, I mentioned that I had just passed the 30-day mark in my new daily publishing streak. (Today is day 38).
*Friend*: Wow. That’s amazing. How did you do it? Habit?
*Me*: Definitely not habit.
*Friend*: Oh, right.
Our call was brief, so we didn’t have much time to dive into details.
But the question lingered in my mind.
The Question of How
This daily publishing streak is the latest in a series of “experiments” that I’ve designed to break my sabotaging habits and create healthy, intentional practices. I first started on this path in high school, when I tried to quit my compulsive nail-biting habit (I eventually broke that habit in college). Since then, I’ve gradually tackled other behaviors.
It’s been a long journey. Four years ago, I finally started to gain traction when I locked in on my daily “Fitness First” practice. Since I first shared the news of my 30-day mark for Fitness First, and with every new practice I’ve implemented since then, almost everyone has asked me this same question:
How did you do it?
I get the question. When we see someone achieve a result we desire, we want to know what they did. As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues.”
But here’s the thing: Asking “how” is the wrong question.
The Question Nobody Asks Me
In my experience, other questions are more relevant to creating sustainable behavior change.
The most relevant question, which nobody ever asks me, is: Why?
There are two aspects to why:
(1) Why did you do it?
Why did I even decide to publish daily (or exercise, or meditate, or whatever the thing is)?
What was my objective? What result was I hoping or expecting to gain or prove by doing this thing? What was my ultimate purpose in choosing to do this? (I realize these are all what questions, but they are embedded in the why).
There are many ways how to do something. What keeps us on the path is our why.
Success leaves clues; reasons pave the way.
(2) Why didn’t you do it before?
Why now? What was stopping you before?
One lesson I’ve learned repeatedly in my experiments — both personally and in my work with clients — is that when we want to do something and we seem to be in our own way, the first step to change our behavior is to uncover my answers to “Why aren’t you doing X?”
There are always multiple reasons. Some are obvious from the beginning. Others only come to light after we resolve the surface reasons.
Unpacking the reasons why we are not doing the thing we say we want to do is the essence of how we break undesired habits and create desired habits.
How Is Irrelevant Without Why
I realize that when people ask me how did you do it? they are likely asking about process.
I have answers to more how questions than you can think to ask. But until you resolve the why, the other parts of how are irrelevant. You might get temporary results, but you won’t get lasting results. And you certainly won’t get transformation.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to put in a lot of work to create a behavior change that won’t stick. When I change a behavior, I want to change it for life.
How Begins with Why:
Think of the thing you want to do. And start here:
Why do you want to do it?
Why aren’t you doing it already?
If you want to learn more about the How, and you are ready to get real about your Why, sign up here to receive an invitation to take it deeper.