How to Achieve Greatness By Being Mediocre Every Day

Try building a “better than nothing” habit

Stephen Moore
Forge

--

Credit: Kohei Hara/Getty Images

Like many people, I’ve tried to pass the time over the past year by forming some new habits: running, baking, writing every day, learning new card tricks to dazzle friends at future dinner parties (those will be a thing again, won’t they?). Each of these pursuits started strong… until I gave up shortly thereafter.

I had lofty visions of being good at these things immediately. And I just didn’t like being bad. But that was the problem: I was fixated on high achievement, when I should have been focused on repetition.

In a recent TED talk, the sociologist Christine Carter argues that in order to successfully build new habits, you need to stop trying to be good and instead get comfortable being mediocre. “You’ll need to abandon your grand plans, at least for now,” Carter says. Reaching our goals, she explains, doesn’t depend on willpower, but rather a “willingness to be bad at our desired behavior.”

To overcome your brain’s desire for instant greatness, it helps to create a wildly unambitious daily practice, something Carter calls a “better than nothing” habit. Simply take one of your goals and strip down the outcome into steps so small, so seemingly insignificant, that they seem almost effortless. For instance…

--

--

Stephen Moore
Forge
Writer for

Writer, editor, part-time furniture maker. Subscribe to Trend Mill for critical takes on our dystopian metaverse hellscape future - https://www.trend-mill.com