Showing Up and Sticking To It

Two principles from James Clear’s Atomic Habits

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that there are two problems with the habit formation.

  1. First and foremost is actually with creating a habit. Most of us, despite our well meaning intentions, never even get started.
  2. Once you get started, the second difficulty is . This is even more a bigger issue than the first one. Remember the number of habits you started, with all enthusiasm, but failed to continue after a week when your initial motivation wears off?

While James Clear talks about the above issues in the context of habit formation, it applies to any creative endeavour as well.

I’ve been guilty of starting too many projects, but failed to pursue it persistently. I often found it difficult at continuing and sticking with it.

You can solve the first issue in startiing a habit by using the four techniques, Atomic Habits, talks about:

  • Make it obvious
  • Make it easy
  • Make it attractive
  • Make it satisfying

Now the bigger problem is actually sticking with a particular routine consistently. But why do we find it difficult?

Here’s my hypothesis

The primary issue is the boredom that comes along with the particular routine. You’ve done the habit repeatedly so many times. And suddenly it becomes so repetitive, and the novelty gets lost.

And what immediately happens is that people search for another new programme. Another new hack to build into their particular routine, or another new exciting idea or project to pursue and they again start from scratch.

So this seems to be the problem. I won’t say exactly spacing, for example, the same thing that happens with daily which was with me, squatting, after being with me doing regular meditation for everything, is a big issue.

The biggest issue for me is doing it consistently and sticking with it.

Two Solutions

So, James Clear offers two particular solutions for this particular issue.

Solution 1: Goldilocks principle

According to this concept, you should try to design the behaviour or the creative project in such a manner that…

  • It shouldn’t feel too easy, that you get bored at it and the novelty is lost
  • Nor should it feel too challenging that you feel overwhelmed

Boredom and overwhelm are the two biggest killers of any creative endeavour. So be mindful of them! It’s a tricky balance, but it’s worth trying out.

So one of the Atomic/ Tiny habits that I’ve been successfully building is to do ‘two squats’ after I pee (Inspired by Prof BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits).

While I had great success in doing it for around a month, it slowly started feeling boring, as two squats was becoming too easy. I need to change something to keep the excitement going.

So this is what I did. Instead of just doing only two squats, I’m redesigning and trying out the following variants.

  • Do 2+ squats
  • Do 2 squats + a push up
  • Do 2 squats with weight

So this is my attempt at making it a little more novel and challenging, so that I get to stick with the habit without letting boredom kill it, while not making it too overwhelming to continue.

Solution 2: Social contract

Join a tribe who are building this habit or working similar such creative endeavours. No wonder there has been a recent proliferation of online communities. Because they work! While you do learn from your peers, the feeling of companionship on the journey is what makes people join them in the first place.

So people join for the content, but stay for the community!

For it was when I joined Daily Visual community, I was able to design and my post visuals consistently. It helps build accountability and of course serves as a sounding board to share both your successes and challenges to your peers. I think the biggest relief is when you realize that the problem you are facing in your project is not unique to you. Once you realize that the issues are universal, you also end up realizing that there must be a solution.

I now use a GSheet to track and share my weekly progress. You can create a simple grid in your notebook to track and review your habits — weekly or monthly.

Now It’s Your Turn

What are the habits/ projects that you already started but unable to stick to it?

  • Now how will you redesign to make it less overwhelming without making you feel bored?
  • Also if it helps, request a friend (or join a community) to hold yourself accountable to work on it!

All the very best!

Originally published at on August 3, 2021.



Work-from-home dad! Writer, Solopreneur. On a journey of personal growth & sustainable living. Subscribe to my newsletter —

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Sathya @SathyaHQ

Work-from-home dad! Writer, Solopreneur. On a journey of personal growth & sustainable living. Subscribe to my newsletter —