Roman Malanke

Fine-Tuning Good Habits

The basic element of every self-development journey is a good habit. There are many books on this subject that teach us what habits we should focus on and how to go about acquiring them. There is less focus though, on how to sustain these habits, which is arguably even more challenging.

Over the last years I’ve been trying to consciously observe my good habits initiatives in dynamics. In the beginning I thought that the process was plain and linear: you identify the thing you want to improve in yourself, you make an effort and work on it for some time, and then — boom! — that habit becomes a second nature. But now I think about it differently. It’s not enough to just incorporate a static habit.

The more effective way is to think about habits as something that evolves over time and direct that evolution towards even greater goodness with small incremental improvements. I like to call this “fine-tuning” of good habits.

A good illustration of this would be my habit of listening to educational podcasts during commutes and while doing home chores. Initially, I saw the “scope” of this habit as simply making use of the “unused” time. I subscribed to a bunch of podcasts on topics that interest me, like Spanish language, management, economics, etc. Soon the sounds of Radiohead and Coldplay in my headphones were replaced with podcasters’ voices. Here I could have counted my habit as “done”. But there was a place to improve, to fine-tune it. Specifically, I noticed that on those days when the last thing I listened to before coming to the office was an episode on management, I was much more energetic at work. On weekends, on the other hand, work-related content impaired the degree of my refreshment, while a nice story-telling Spanish podcast as an accompaniment for weekly shirts ironing, made my day. So now my fine-tuned habit also includes smart content placement. Of course, I don’t stop here and I’m constantly looking for new ways to make it more effective.