Many years ago, “The Professor”, Dai Vernon, one of magic’s greatest legends and teachers, was asked by a student to help him with his magic. The student wanted to know the really big secret(s) that made The Professor so skilled with his technique and performances. Vernon recounted the story, and told that what his students wanted to hear were things like “Always use hand lotion before handling a deck of cards” or “only practice magic before bed” or “only use bicycle cards” or some other big secret.

The truth, he went on, is that there is no big secret, but rather a collection of thousands of little secrets that taken together create the perfect illusion, like a work of pointillist art.

All these details come over time with the right systems and habits in place. When I have cards and coins laying out on my desk, I practice.  When my guitar is out on a stand, I play.  When my exercise ball is out in the open, I exercise.  Conversely, when the cards are in a drawer, the guitar is in a case, or the exercise ball is in the closet, I do nothing. Positive change really is not about will power; it’s about habits and systems.  We don’t need will power or to change our minds–because the mind is actually physical. Changing our physical habits and routines makes the change for us and our minds follow suit automatically. Honesty, attention to detail, self reflection and awareness are key components to improving at anything by allowing us to implement the necessary systems.

To that point, for all of us hoping to make improvements in our lives in 2014, this is a great video that was recently forwarded to me. Make improvement easy on yourself by setting up routines, habits, and environments that foster the change you’re trying to make.

Good luck to you, and have a magical 2014!