How Habits Drive Exponential Growth
This morning my Readwise Daily Review showed me a quote from a book I read a couple of years ago. In case you are wondering, Readwise is an app that consolidates all of the Kindle highlights you’ve ever made to any book and puts it into one place. You can also sync Instapaper, iBooks, Pocket App, and many more. This quote about habits got me thinking about the power of habits and how habits have served me over the years.
Back in January of 2019, I resolved to make the greatest pancakes ever. I considered the role habits could play in this and committed to make pancakes every weekend that I was in town. In fact, in 2019, I planned trips around weekends as much as possible so that I could be home to make pancakes. In 2019, I was home about 40 weekends.
At first, it was tough to even get excited about sticking to this habit of making pancakes every weekend since they weren’t so good. Plus, some days I thought about just going to the coffee shop in the morning or doing something else. But after sticking to my commitment for about 10 weekends, I started enjoying and looking forward to it. The last weekend of the year, I was proud to reflect that I had made the best pancakes of the year. On every level, taste, consistency, fluffiness, weight, looks, etc, they were my absolute best.
Habits Driven by Exponential Growth
That got me thinking about the power of habits and the intentions driving the habits. Sometimes, I developed habits with little intention. Other times, I applied a little intention. Maybe I thought it was simply a good habit to get into (i.e. working out, reading, etc.). However, with my pancake habit, it was about becoming significantly good at something and enjoying the journey of growth.
This habit also became something I could share with my parents and I could get their feedback on the evolution of the pancakes. To my surprise, they were honest if the pancakes weren’t as good as a previous weekend. This pancake habit also became weekend ritual of breakfast with my parents when I wasn’t traveling.
Recently, I embarked on another intentional habit – writing and publishing every weekday. I started this about 4 weeks ago. Including this article, I’m up to 18 consecutive weekdays of writing and publishing. With this particular habit, there were several intended outcomes I wanted to drive.
Build my writing muscle.
I want to develop my ability to sit down and expand on a particular topic. I’ve learned this doesn’t mean staring at a blank page and writing on demand. Instead, this means, selecting an idea intentionally and working it out in words on a page.
Publish a body of work.
I want to create and publish a significant amount of work based on my ideas, insights, and lessons learned throughout my journey. This way, if someone crazy enough to want to read through a lot of my work, they would have plenty read through. Perhaps that might inspire them to take an idea or insight further than I did.
Organize and catalogue my work.
I want to start organizing a collection of work that I could leave behind. Earlier this year I had this terrible thought that if something happened to me, most of my ideas, notes, and insights would sit trapped on my laptop in various apps that no one would have the passwords to access. This got me thinking not only about expanding on ideas in written form, but also organizing the countless ideas and notes in various apps (i.e. Evernote, Google Drive, Notes, Dropbox, etc.).
Exponential Growth in 4 Weeks
I’m 18 articles into this habit and I’m driven to keep going by the powerful intention I put into it. In these four weeks, I have already begun to experience some of the exponential growth that comes from keeping my habit going.
Breakthrough at 5 Articles
When I hit 5 articles, I had a breakthrough in terms of how I go about organizing ideas for future articles. This way when I sit down, I have a list of ideas to choose from.
Breakthrough at 14 Articles
When I hit 14 articles, I had a breakthrough in how I go about preparing and structuring my workflow for writing the article. Essentially, I’m building a formula for content creation. This way I don’t just sit in front of the screen with a prompt and a blank page. Now I start by thinking about stories that pertain to this idea and capture those. Then I think about lessons learned, followed by any potential activities I could suggest. As I write these notes, I get more clear on how I would like to structure the article. Every day I get a little better.
What Habit Can You Upgrade Right Now?
Think about the things you already do every day or week. Things that you practically do on autopilot. Consider what intentional outcomes or direction you could add to some of them. What current habit can you upgrade starting today?
For instance, if you play with your kids once a day, what is the exponential outcome you can intend for in your daily playtime. Perhaps building a stronger relationship or becoming great friends with your children. When my sister and I were kids, my dad took us to the park a lot. However, in those outings, he always engaged us in a lot of conversation. What I realized once I was older was that this habit drove an outcome that lasted decades – exponential returns.
The Exponential Growth I’m Going After
Today, I’m working on surfacing the ideas that will define my life’s work. That’s why I’m writing everyday. While I will be able to build my body of work and leave something behind, I also believe that writing and publishing every day will surface ideas tomorrow that I cannot even imagine today. This is my exponential intention.
Whether you can come up with an exponential intention or not, think about how you can add a little fuel to your already existing habits in order to upgrade their results. And then consider what new habits you might be able to put into place today that will potentially reap massive rewards for you in the future.