Oh hey. I’m writing. I’m also watching “Frozen” for the first time in forever. Disney Plus is incredible and an absolute no-brainer as a person with a very young child… or as a person with eyes and ears connected to a heart.
Turns out having a new website format adds about ~3% harder to write posts for. I can’t do it from my Chromebook, which is a bummer. I don’t really blame the format, though. I blame the Chromebook. Which is a bit of a bummer. I don’t think that ChromeOS is bad per say. I just wish I had the non-atom processor variant so my Linux access wasn’t so stunted.
Somewhat coincidentally, somewhat causally, my previous Column was mostly a list of habits & this Column is a book report for the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Spoiler: I liked it. I like the cut of his jib. Here’s his website. I’m sure his traffic is going to spike now that he’s got a link from this blog. I hope he’s got a good web Hosting service. From here down, I’m just going to put my notes from this book (those written on Gillespedia, my side project).
Habits have a compounding effect over time - and because of that, small habits done consistently eventually return huge results. They do more than help you achieve your goals, they bring you closer to being the person you want to be. So start by asking yourself “what does the person I want to be do?” Then create a system that enables doing those things. Good habits moves you toward being that person, bad habits away. Don’t focus too much on immediate goals, focus instead on exercising the system. Each time you repeat a habit, you cast a vote for your new identity. Find the joy in that instead of waiting for the joy of achieving your goal.
The basic habit loop is cue → craving → response → reward (the reward reinforces the cue). You can manipulate each step in this process to help adopt good habits and break bad ones.
Cue - make habit triggers obvious. Setup your environment to expose good cues often, and hide bad cues. Be very specific with when and how you will perform a habit. Try stacking a habit you aspire to do with one you already do.
Example: Place moisturizer next to the coffee machine. Tell yourself “after each time I press ‘brew’, I will moisturize my hands”.
Craving - make good habits attractive. Use temptation bundling to stack good habits with things you enjoy (ensuring the good habit and the thing you enjoy don’t cast conflicting votes toward your new identity). Also you can associate with people who already have the habit you want.
Example: “Only after my weekly review of budgets, will l watch the new episode of my TV show.”
Response - make the good habit easy & the bad habit hard. Tailor the environment to add or remove friction where possible. Many good habits can be automated & bad habits prevented via one-time actions. Quantity is often more important than quality. You’d benefit more from never failing to meet a daily goal of “do a 2 minute warmup” than from consistently failing to meet a daily goal “do a one hour workout”… and you’ll often find after you do the warmup it’s often easy to do the workout.
Example: Unplug the TV after each use and set your journal on the power cable. Commit to writing two sentences before plugging in the TV.
Reward - make it immediately satisfying to perform a good habit by using rewards. Habit trackers can supplement rewards, and be rewards themselves. Make bad habits painful by using a habit contract and an accountability partner.
Example: After finishing my workout, I will make myself a healthy smoothie and put an X on the calendar next to the blender. If I fail to put 3 Xes in any week this month, I have to do the whole family’s laundry by myself next month.
Habit trackers are immensely helpful. They are a cue that can serve as a craving and a reward. When using a habit tracker, don’t break the chain… and when it breaks, commit to not failing twice in a row.
Experiment with many different habits. Stick with what naturally works for you. Keep pursuing what is on the edge of your capability - not easy but not impossible. After mastering any given habit, after your interests change, or just every so often, reevaluate how your systems. Ask yourself: Have your habits become rote? Can you dive deeper? Should you to refine or upgrade the person you want to be?
Alright that’s it. I highly recommend this book.
Top 5: Best Books I’ve Read & Summarized on Gillespedia
- Range by David Epstein
- The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
The most effective way to change your habits for the long term is to focus on who you want to be, not what you want to achieve.
- James Clear… this may not be a direct quote. I don’t remember if this was stated verbatim. It’s also from my notes. I liked it.