Focus on Systems Instead of Outcomes
- Goals are the results you want to achieve. Systems are the processes that lead to those results. Celebrate correctly executing a process. Fall in love with the work.
- If you fix your inputs, outcomes take care of themselves. If you eat all the right foods and train the right way, you will become fitter. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, the outcome is determined by sustained efforts.
- Hyperfocus on outcome based goals is not good for long term progress. If you are too goal oriented, you fall apart after achieving your goals because... what now?
- Winners and losers have the same goals, but only winners have winning systems.
Focus on Identity
- If you change your beliefs, you change your identity.
- Smokers require willpower to turn down a cigarette. Non-smokers do not. Your identity (smoker/ non-smoker) dictates your response.
- Some behaviors are impossible under certain belief systems. "Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last."
- "Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity."
- Ask yourself, "Who is the type of person that could get the outcome I want." In every situation ask yourself, what would that person do right now?
- One of the easiest ways to change your identity is to join groups where your target identity is the default identity. Want to “become a reader?” Join a book club.
Four Rules For Building and Breaking Habits
1. Make Good Habits Obvious, Bad Habits Invisible
Habits Need To Be Stated Clearly
- "Most people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity."
- If you want to start a habit, but don’t get specific about when, where, or how long, you are much more likely to fail.
- Become extremely clear about what the “habit” is. Reading everyday is too vague. Reading immediately after breakfast for 10-minutes is more likely to stick.
Use Your Environment To Help
- "Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior"
- "Your habits change depending on the room you are in and the cues in front of you"
- "… alter the spaces where you live and work to increase your exposure to positive cues and reduce your exposure to negative ones."
- “Habits thrive under predictable circumstances.”
- Surround yourself with people who have your desired habits and identities.
- If you live walking distance from a block of bars, you’ll go (and drink) more often.
- If you hide your Xbox in the closet, you’ll use it less often.
- Place books where you intend to read them.
- If you make your new tab page the online course you’ve been meaning to take, maybe you’ll make progress.
2. Make Good Habits Attractive, Bad Habits Difficult
Use Temptation Bundling
- Use habits you want to do to motivate yourself to do what you need to do. An example would be only getting pedicures (want) while processing work emails (need).
- Reward yourself for taking desired actions. The mint in toothpaste makes it enjoyable to brush your teeth—an otherwise boring process.
Use Artificial Consequences
- Impose a $20 penalty everytime you snooze. Donate $10 to charity everytime you watch an hour of Netflix.
Join The Right Social Groups
- "Behaviors are attractive when they help us fit in."
3. Make Good Habits Easy, Bad Habits Hard
Start Extremely Small (Why The Title Is Atomic Habits)
- "When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do." If the miniaturized habit (read one page instead of read a chapter) leads to you feeling like doing the full habit, then awesome, but you only have to do the small version.
- "A new habit should not feel like a challenge. The actions that follow can be challenging, but the first two minutes should be easy."
- "The point is to master the habit of showing up... Instead of trying to engineer a perfect habit from the start, do the easy thing on a more consistent basis." — B+ Effort, A+ Consistency
Focus On The Decisive Moment
- The important habit isn't going to the gym after work. Instead, the habit is choosing to change into your workout clothes instead of turning on the TV and pouring a glass of wine. With the clothes on, it is natural to go to the gym.
- The important habit isn’t starting your work. The habit is turning off distractions, finding a quiet space, and playing your focus music.
- "The more you ritualize the beginning of a process, the more likely it becomes that you can slip into the state of deep focus that is required to do great things."
4. Make Good Habits Satisfying, Bad Habits Unsatisfying
Techniques and Ideas
- Use Accountability Partners. It’s rewarding to brag about meeting your goals. It’s awful to admit failure. "When the consequences are severe people learn quickly"
- Use visual habit trackers to keep tabs on your progress. These provide clear evidence of progress which is satisfying.
- Never miss new habits twice in a row.
- "... the costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future."
- "What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided."
- When you want to quit, ask yourself “has the plan stopped working or am I just bored?”
Changes I’m Making
When reading a book like this, you’ll introspect on your habits the entire time.
Instead of pondering habits for five minutes when reading this email, reading the full book forces you to consider your habits for about four to five hours.
These are some of my personal ideas for habit change from reading the book.
Making The Gym More Fun
Without a workout partner, the gym gets really boring. To avoid this, I try to preplan my gym and gym-commute entertainment.
When you get the right audiobook, podcast, or album, you start desperately seeking out more time to listen to it.
Winning Mornings With FocusMate
Every action influences the following actions (momentum). This is why I try to start my days productively.
Since reading the book, I’ve been beginning each day with a FocusMate, a 50-minute scheduled video coworking session with a random stranger.
This makes me start the day with a win and forces me to get started without wasting hours dilly-dallying.
Modified Journaling Template
If you focus on small improvements everyday, the end results can be spectacular. The book inspired me to add these two questions to my (almost) daily journal.
- How can I get 1% better by addition/ continuation?
- How can I get 1% better by subtraction?
How can I change my environment?
I dismounted the TV from my bedroom. It created clutter which made me never use my desk.
I’m also actively searching for interest groups where my desired behavior and interests match the group’s behavior and skills. Shoutout to my friend Jake Gallen for hosting Blockchain meetups in Vegas!