• Author: James Clear
  • Systems are better than Goals
    • Goals focus only on the end result
    • Systems make you the person who does things
    • Goals has the problem of Survivor Bias. People who failed also had goals. But they probably didn’t have systems
  • The Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change
    • What is immediately rewarded is repeated.
    • What is immediately punished is avoided
  • Laws of behavior change
    1. Make it obvious
    2. Make it attractive
    3. Make it easy
    4. Make it satisfying

1. Make it Obvious

  • Point and Tell - Japanese railway workers point and speak out loud every check before starting the train.
    • The stuff you do daily might be second nature and you won’t realize the things you’ve missed. Because it’s not conscious.
    • Use it to your advantage. Point and tell the bad habits so you know when you are doing them.
  • Habit Stacking
    • Diderot Effect - You are likely to buy more stuff if you already bought a thing.
    • You can stack new good habits on top of the habits you already do.
    • You’re more likely to do the second one since you stacked it with the old one
    • After X I’ll immediately do Y
    • X - What you already do
    • Y - Desired behaviour
    • Be very clear on instructions when to act - After I close the laptop, After I open the door, after I do X
  • Many of the actions we do daily is not by conscious choice but by the most obvious option
    • Visual cues are the greatest catalyst in our behaviour
    • Design your environment for success
    • Homes with electricity meter in a visible location used less electricity
    • Create obvious visual cues
    • It is easier to form new habits on a new environment by escaping the cues in your old one
    • Or redefine, redesign your current environment
    • One location - one use case. Have a dividing line between spaces.
    • Avoid mixing contexts of places.
    • If space is limited - Divide spaces as activity zone- work desk, reading chair, etc
  • Self Control
    • The people with the most self-control are the people who use it the least
    • Easier to avoid temptation than resist it
    • Structure your life so you don’t need immense self-control
    • You can break a bad habit but it’s unlikely that you forget it. Cues can bring it back
    • Inversion of 1st law of behaviour change: Make it Invisible
    • Make cues of good habits obvious
    • Make cues of bad habits invisible

2. Make it Attractive

  • Supernormal stimulus
    • Junk Food, Sugar, Porn, etc
  • Make a habit a Supernormal Stimulus to make it addictive
  • The anticipation of the reward releases the dopamine not the attainment
  • You are more likely to make a reward attractive if you get to do your favorite thing at the same time
  • The Premack Principle is a principle of reinforcement which states that an opportunity to engage in more probable behaviors (or activities) will reinforce less probable behaviors (or activities).
  • Friends and Family provide invisible peer pressure. This can be used for good habits. We are tribe animals.
    • We soak up the qualities that we are surrounded.
    • Surround yourself with people who have the habits you have. Your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
    • We tend to imitate these 3
    • Imitating the close - family and friends
    • Imitating the crowd can get in the way.
    • Imitating successful people - We imitate the people we envy.
  • your habits are derived from the evolutionary needs like food, sex and safety.
  • View things differently
    • Exercise can be viewed as a way of improving your skill
    • Speaking opportunities might be scary but interpret it as being excited
  • Motivational Ritual
    • Link something you like as a cue for your habit
    • Eg: You like to do X, Only do X after you do 10 seconds of Y
    • If you always put on your headphones while writing, The next time you put on your headphones writing will come automatically

3. Make it Easy

  • Quantity vs Quality
    • Quantity won
    • “take at least one street photo a day” had better photos than “take the best photo” source
    • The best is the enemy of the good - Volatire
  • Motion vs Action
    • Motion is preparing, researching, planning, googling, etc
    • Action is practicing and actually doing the thing
    • By motion(preparing) we want to delay failure
    • Only action will get you somewhere
  • Repetition
    • Long Term Potentiation
    • In neuroscience, long-term potentiation (LTP) is a persistent strengthening of synapses based on recent patterns of activity.
    • Hebbs Law
    • Neurons that fire together, wire together
    • Hippocampus, responsible for spacial memory was found to be larger in NY taxi drivers. It reduced size after retirement
    • Automaticity
    • Perform things without thinking about it. Practice
    • Most effective to make practice happen is to make it easy
  • Law of least effort
    • When deciding between things people will choose one which require the least effort
    • This is at most times our real motivation, energy is precious
    • Reduce Friction
    • Design your environment
    • Reduce points of friction
    • Inverse
    • Increase friction to loose bad habits
    • Place phone in the next room so you don’t look at it often
    • 2 min rule
    • Whenever you’re starting a new habit you are only allowed to do it for 2 mins (or 5 or 3 ,etc)
    • Build Gateway habits
      • Putting on the running shoes
      • Get home early (to wake up early)
      • First 2 minutes of the habit and increment by phases.
  • Commitment device
    • AKA Ulysses Pact
    • Victor Hugo shut his cloths away to write a book so he can’t go out
    • Invest in tech that locks future behavior
  • Automate a Habit
  • Make bad habits harder by designing the environment
    • Hide your phone, uninstall social media, etc

4. Make it Satisfying

  • If it feels good we’re more likely to repeat it
    • Eg; Chewing gum was there before wriggly, Wriggly added taste and the feeling of the fresh mouth
    • Toothpaste had great success when they added mint, etc. it felt like having a clean mouth. hence more satisfying.
  • We want Immediate Satisfaction
  • Our Brain usually value the present more than the future
  • What is Immediately rewarded is repeated, What is Immediately punished is not.
  • Train yourself to delay gratification
    • Add a little bit of gratification to habits that will pay of in the near future
    • Everything you skipped going out to eat, put the money to an account to for say “trip to Europe”
    • Add a little bit of pain to bad habits
    • Every time you skip the gym, you have to meditate 20 mins
  • Paper Clip Strategy (Tracking)
    • Every-time you do X move a paperclip from one Bin to Another
    • Use a Habit Tracker
    • Easiest way: Use a calendar, Mark X for everyday
    • Mantra: Don’t break the Chain
    • Benefits:
      • Obvious, natural visual cues
      • Attractive, Subtle reminder of how far you’ve come
      • Satisfying
    • Habit tracking -> Habit stacking
      • After I do X, I’ll track my Habit
    • How to Recover
      • Rule: Never miss twice
      • Rebound quickly even if we can’t do as well. Just get the cycle running.
      • Just show up.
    • Understand what to track
      • Goodheart’s Law
      • When a measure becomes a target, It ceases to be a good measure
      • The human mind wants to win every game. It will tweak the measure if it is the result.
  • Accountability Partner
    • Adding an instant cost to bad habits
    • Immediate consequence
    • Habit Contract
    • Create an immediate cost, like money, tasks, etc
  • Advanced
    • Select the right area
    • Habits are more satisfying in areas where you seem to like
    • **Play the game where the odds are in your favour **
    • Keep experimenting
    • Split testing different areas
    • If you’re winning -> Exploit!
    • Else -> Explore
    • If you can’t find such a game, create such a game
    • Scott Adams
      • Can draw better than most people but isn’t the best artist
      • Is funny but isn’t the best comedian
      • His business background allowed him to draw cartoons that other cartoonists cant without living it.
    • If you can’t win by getting better you can win by being different
    • Specialization in a narrow field to overcome your natural abilities
  • Goldilocks Rule
    • The rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities
    • Just manageable difficulty.
    • Not too hard nor too easy
    • Boredom
    • “Men desire novelty to such an extent that those who are doing well wish for a change as much as those who are doing badly.” -Machiavelli
    • Novelty - porn, video games, binge-watching
    • Keeping the challenge hard enough will keep things interesting
    • Fall in love with boredom. Stick to the schedule
      • This is the difference between pro and amateur.
      • Put the reps in

Downsides of creating new habits

  • Repeating the same things will reduce the efficiency
  • It will become automatic and mistakes will slip
  • It will be good enough
  • Deliberate Practice is required to advance
    • Habit + Deliberate Practice = Mastery
  • Review choices by creating a journal
    • Don’t continue a habit that isn’t effective
    • Revisit your core values (Annual, Monthly, etc)
  • Don’t make your identity very large.
    • Define your identity that can be translated to other domains.
    • eg: I’m a CEO -> I’m the type of person who builds and creates things
    • This will not make you brittle and won’t shatter your identity easily
    • Make identity flexible
    • “Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.” - Lao Tzu #Quotes