James Clear has outlined the benefits of using small habits, consecutively, to build up large life changes. This is worth reading and re-reading. We are collections of habits over years, and to make significant changes requires us to really understand how the cue-> craving-> response-> reward loop functions. This also works for breaking “bad habits” as pointed out in the article.
What then, of priorities? “Every goal is doomed to fail if it goes against human nature,” ends the article. Agreed. So why do we end up in places that don’t align with our goals? It would stand that our nature should be for us to be happy, content, but…we aren’t always.
Often, I personally find that we have “artificial goals” that distract us from what we want over a longer period of time to things that we want immediately. Often, our long-term goals require discomfort in the short-term. Exercise vs. having a pizza and beer is a simple example. What may fill our immediate wants and desires works against our wants that require delayed gratification.
Where this comes into question is if the delayed goal will possibly not happen. Often, especially in investment strategies, we see that those who live closer to the poverty line will often take smaller long-term goals that are more certain, as opposed to someone who feels “they can afford to lose.”
This concept is even possibly to blame for our relationship decisions due to a perceived “sunken cost” scenario. While it may seem absurd, it supports that the more a family is struggling, the more likely they are to stick out bad decisions even tolerating partners that make their lives harder.
One possible answer lies in a very ancient place:
‘He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.’ – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, v 44.
To make a more modern scenario, we can look to how minimalism correlates to happiness and stress reduction. Instead of the aforementioned “I can afford to lose” it also works to say “nothing I may lose really will negatively impact me.” This allows us the capacity to find ourselves in a place where we can begin to remove the habits that do not contribute towards our actual goals. It stands to reason that this type of worldview not only allows us the freedom to pursue what we want, but to let go of all of the myriad of things that truly do not matter.