Higher! Faster! More cowbell! We often think that more is better. That the more habits we can cram in, the more likely it is that we’ll reach our goal. This, of course, isn’t how it works.

We know that our success rate is good when adding just a one habit change. But the odds of sticking with the changes drop dramatically if we’re making two changes at the same time.

And going for three or more changes at once? We might as well wait until one morning we’ll see an image of Elvis Presley appear on our toast, then open a can of beans, arrange them on the floor, close our eyes, and whisper quietly for our all dreams to come true.

Most of us are terrible at multitasking. It dilutes our efforts. Sure, we end up doing a lot of things. But none of them well enough to actually get anywhere. There’s a saying in Finnish that roughly translates to “trying to climb a tree with ass first.” That seems accurate here.

Instead, start from zero. Where are you now?

Decide where you want to go. What is your goal?

Then, simplify. What are the least amount of steps you can take to get to your goal?

This forces you to eliminate all the unnecessary paraphernalia. The actions and habits that might sound nice. But don’t bring any meaningful value to the change you’re trying to make.

Then commit to only taking one step at a time.

It’s going to be hard. Because hard steps are the only ones left once you strip away the excess.