By Leo Babauta

This month, we’re focusing on learning and mastering the skills of forming habits.

It’s not enough to read about skills to learn them: you have to do them. More importantly, you have to try them, fail, and then correct yourself.

And you have to practice daily. This is called Distributed Practice, and it’s the best way to learn anything. So we’re going to have a daily practice session for our habit skills. In each session, you might be working on a different set of subskills, but you’ll be practicing regularly.

Failing is a crucial part of the learning method. If you’re just given the answers, you don’t learn as well as if you try to do it yourself, then are given the answer, and then correct yourself. So I’m going to ask you to try the skills once without guidance. This will seem weird, but that’s good: uncertainty helps you to learn better.

So here’s how this will work:

  1. I’ll ask you to try to do something without guidance.
  2. You’ll try it.
  3. I’ll give you guidance, and you’ll correct if necessary.

It’s extremely important that you take any mistakes or missteps as key parts of the learning process, not a sign that you’re bad at this. Everyone is going to make mistakes, miss doing the habit, forget things … and that’s what we want. You don’t learn if you don’t do that.

So be prepared to fail, and try to enjoy it as a part of learning.

The Four Weekly Focuses

Each week of this module, we’ll be focusing on a different set of subskills:

  1. Getting Started: The skills needed to start a habit and set up your habit environment.
  2. Executing: How to keep the habit going, and not fail.
  3. Adjusting: How to make adjustments as you go, and get back on track if you do get disrupted.
  4. Continuing: How to keep the habit going for longer than a month, and how to start a 2nd habit.