Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
– Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett has mentioned this quote numerous times in his various interviews. Here is a short version of the video where he makes the same comment and explains it.
Importance of Habits
After watching several videos in which Warren Buffett gives general advise on how to be successful, I noticed that the very first point he makes is about how to form efficient habits early in life. He stresses time and again on how important it is to develop these good efficient habits earlier in one’s life. The above quote shows the compounding effect of habits overtime. Warren Buffett is not the first one or the only one to highlight the importance of forming good habits. But like all his other actions, he is able to support his advise with a very practical, do-able action item which we all can do today.
Actions for developing good habits.
His advise is to look no farther than our immediate surroundings. Pick a person who you like and is successful in one way or another in your eyes. Now write down (it is important to do this exercise by writing down) the list of this person’s good qualities/habits that you would like to see in yourself. Similarly list the bad habits that you want to get rid of and make a conscious effort towards eradicating the same.
The good thing about habits is that we can train ourselves. There are lots of research which states that it takes us an average of 21 consecutive days to form a new habit. This can vary from person to person and the focus level with which he tries to implement the new habit. Once you reach an age range like 50’s or 60’s it becomes more hard to form new habits. In other words, the old habits will be like chains that will be too hard to be broken.
If you are still in your 30’s or below, you will have to believe that this invisible chain of habit is very real and we will have to work towards maintaining the good ones and breaking the bad ones now.
Tools for developing good habits.
The best thing is to keep a journal on the habit. Just explain the habit you need to form and keep daily track of whether you were able to achieve it. If you own a smart phone, then tracking becomes much easy. There are habit tracking apps that are available for free. I use an app called habit bull which allows me to simply keep track of my habits. I have coded it in a way that only I can understand. I have noticed that it is much more effective to commit during the beginning of the day that you will make it a positive day rather than waiting till the end of the day to track that day’s status. For example, if you are trying to get rid of smoking, it will help if you make the conscious decision during the beginning of the day that you will not smoke and mark that day as successful. I have attained complete control over one of my bad habits this way. I have added more items to track. I am also planning to do an in depth review of habit bull app.
Ending Note on Habit formation.
Compounding applies not only to your investment but also to personal development and habit formation. Compound is such a powerful tool that it would be wise for you to be on its good side and make it your friend.