Building New Habits Requires Embracing Laziness

The “go hard or go home” mentality of self-improvement actually makes self-improvement harder.

David Rhoades
4 min readNov 4, 2021
This is you, attempting to start a habit way above your weight class (Photo by Pauline Bernfeld on Unsplash)

What’s the chief problem with adopting a creative habit? Sustaining the habit after the novelty wears off.

How it usually goes: I’ll get excited about a new kind of writing exercise/routine/project, and that excitement will sustain me for four, maybe five days. If I’m being generous, that’s how long it takes for my routine to get interrupted by an external Thing™ on average — every four or five days.

Then on day five, something will come up. Maybe I’m tired. Maybe I made plans. Maybe I just don’t feel as excited anymore.

I blink…

…and it’s six weeks later, and I barely remember wanting to start a habit at all.

I’ve spent a few years trying to figure out what my problem is.

(Well, actually, I’ve spent a few years beating myself up for being a lazy, poorly disciplined slob, but once I learned that being cruel to myself doesn’t actually do anything for me, I started looking outside myself for a solution.)

I learned what I was missing: changing my behavior hinges on the “smallest viable effort.”



David Rhoades

Working class writer, editor, and photographer. Journalist for Socialist Alternative. Writes essays, horror, and science fiction.