Excellence is a habit, but so is failure

We often hear that making small incremental improvements every day can lead to great things. This popular piece of advice rings true, and it’s a powerful reminder to keep pushing ourselves forward.

But there’s another side to this story that we don’t discuss as often: how incremental neglect and small missteps can accumulate and lead to negative outcomes. Recognizing and addressing these patterns of neglect early can make a significant difference in preventing larger problems down the road.

Reflecting on my own life, I’ve noticed that most of the things that really went off-track were indeed consequences of incremental neglect and numerous small yet poor choices:

  • I didn’t become addicted to drugs overnight. It happened over hundreds of moments where I prioritized momentary pleasure over health and safety.
  • I didn’t become overweight overnight. It happened over hundreds of moments where I opted for immediate gratification over long-term health.
  • I didn’t ruin relationships overnight. It happened over hundreds of moments where I chose comfort over confronting difficult conversations, admitting my mistakes, or even just acknowledging that someone was better than me at something.

From these experiences, I’ve realized that avoiding bad habits is just as important as cultivating good habits.

To address these kinds of issues, we must become aware of our patterns of incremental neglect and then take deliberate steps to counteract them and foster healthier habits.

Written on April 5, 2023