Ice Cubes and Habits



Do you struggle with maintaining good habits? Especially in the beginning? I suspect most of us do. It is quite difficult to change one's behavior even toward positive ends. Not only is the thing you are doing likely difficult in the first place, but after a few repetitions, you start to wonder why even bother?


In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes about how habits and their effect on your life are like an ice cube in a steadily warming room.


Say you have an ice cube sitting on a table in a room at a stable 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The ice cube is plenty stable in it's solid form. Now raise the temperature in the room 1 degree to 21 degrees Fahrenheit. What happens with the ice cube? Nothing. Change has only started to build up so it doesn't appear that anything is happening at all.


Raise the temperature another degree. Now you are at 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Any noticeable change? Again, no. Undoubtedly the increase in temperature is having an effect on the ice cube, but nothing visible is occurring yet.


Continue this process, raise the temperature in the room 1 degree, observe the change. Now, say you have done that enough that the room temperature is now 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Raise the temperature one more degree. What happens?


Melting ice! All the accumulated change has suddenly started to show a real and noticeable effect on the ice cube. Now, it is becoming water. Would it have become water if you hadn't been steadily raising the temperature? If you hadn't put in the first few degree changes, would the ice cube be melting now?


Consider this when making new habits for your good. It may take weeks, months, or even years, for the change you are accumulating in your life to bear fruit. Keep at it. I encourage you to focus on being the kind of person that does the good habit. If you have been struggling with keeping to a better new habit, I trust you will find more success this way than you have in the past.