up with an approach to changing habits that has yet to be surpassed. A young
adult seeking to straighten out his act, Franklin developed a list of thirteen
virtues, jotting down a brief definition of each. These were character traits
he took to be important, but in which he found himself lacking. He knew that
nurturing these habits would bring about positive change in his life.
working on each virtue. In the morning he thought about how he would reinforce
the new habit throughout the day. During the day he looked at his notes to
remind himself of the new habit. At the end of the day, he counted how many
times he fell back into the old habit.
his behavior was, he was so resolved that he pressed on, working through the
entire list in a thirteen-week cycle, and completing four such cycles in a
year. As for results, he noted in his autobiography that while perfection was
unattainable, he could see big improvements.
Franklin’s three-hundred-year-old procedure for changing habits:
these as you like, but whatever you do, work on one each week using Benjamin
yourself as you can about what you want and why you do what you do.
into building relationships with people you can trust and count on, and make
sure those same people can trust and count on you.
energy. Work your way up to doing aerobic exercise at least three times a
week, eating a light lunch, and getting enough sleep.
Listen to your biorhythms and organize your day
accordingly. Make it a habit to pay attention to regular fluctuations in
your physical and mental energy levels throughout the day; and based on what
you learn, make adjustments to how you schedule tasks.
Set very few priorities and stick to them. Select
a maximum of two things that are your highest priority, and plan time to work
Turn down things that are inconsistent with your
priorities. Get good at saying no to other people, and do so frequently.
Set aside time for focused effort.Schedule time
every day to work on just one thing.
Always look for ways of doing things better and
faster. Be on the lookout for tasks you do over and over again, and look
for ways of improving how you do them.
Build solid processes. Set up processes that
last and that run without your attention.
Spot trouble ahead and solve problems immediately. Set
aside time to think about what lies ahead, and face all problems as soon as you
Break your goals into small units of work, and
think only about one unit at a time. Spend most of your time working on
the task in front of you, and avoid dreaming too much about the big goal.
Finish what’s important and stop doing what’s no
longer worthwhile. Don’t stop doing what you considered worth starting
unless there’s a good reason to give it up.