The Chinese proverb goes that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
It’s one of the best feelings in the world to be able to pat the back of your past self. You were thankful for the decisions you made. The author of Atomic Habits, James Clear explains that the cost of good habits is in the present. The cost of bad habits is in the future. Choose to help your future self.
It is the decisions that we make by delaying instant gratification that we are most proud of making. Most of the outcomes in our life are a lagging measure of the habits that we do every day.
The outcome of having cavities at your bi-annual visit to the dentist is the outcome of the bad habits. In this example, these are bad because they led to an undesired outcome. This could be because you weren’t brushing daily. Your teeth need a stronger fluoride toothpaste. It is okay to eat a bunch of sugar as long as you have a trigger to brush your teeth after. They can remain intact without holes if the decay doesn’t have enough time to make holes.
If the goal is precise, it can be placed on the shelf. The daily behaviors that lead to its outcome are most important. Focusing on the system before put into place allows for autopilot.
Habits are the small actions that build into your life’s system that lead to outcomes. Make a list of things you do automatically. You can live with these by default from your surroundings or they can be intentional. The choice is yours.