By Leo Babauta

We’re going to work on the habit skills for this module in bundles, one each week: Getting Started, Executing, Adjusting, and Continuing.

That means the first week, we’re focusing on Getting Started.

There’s one habit skill you need to work on right now, as you read this paragraph: fully commit to making this change. You’re going to pick one small habit, and really focus on making it stick for the duration of the month. You’ll learn the habit skills as you do that, but you have to fully commit in your mind to doing the habit.

So assess your commitment, right now: are you in? Are you really going to do this? Many people only half commit (“Sure, that sounds like a good idea”) but don’t get to the point of taking action. I’m asking you to commit this moment to taking action. That’s the first habit skill to work on.

Next, you need to do two things … but before we do that, I’m going to talk briefly about the skill learning method we’re going to work on as we do this course:

The Skill Learning Method

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.

Your Next Two Steps

OK, so if you’ve fully committed yourself to doing a small habit and learning about habit skills this coming month … I’d like you to take two steps now:

  1. Pick a small habit. Choose a habit today that you’ll do every day of December. Be prepared to toss that habit out tomorrow if it doesn’t fit the guidelines I’m going to give you tomorrow — today is just your first attempt. But before I give you the guidelines, please make the attempt: choose a habit.
  2. Create a simple habit plan. Open up a document, and write out a plan for how you’re going to do the habit for your first week. I’m not going to tell you what should be in the plan until tomorrow, but I’d like you to attempt making a plan today without guidance.

That’s it! It should take you 5-10 minutes, so please do this today even if you’re busy. It’s really important that you get started as soon as you can.