Habits

I have been doing a lot of experiments with habits. I’ll tell you why. If you don’t turn things in to a habit, you won’t change. On top of that, examining and tinkering on them will free up loads of time to do better quality work. After all my therapy and training in it, I am more convinced by the day that the only thing that ensures lasting change is breaking a habit by replacing it with another.

Here are some of my recent, small experiments:

  • Go on a news/TV diet. I haven’t watched any TV for the last three years – only the occasional movie with my family. I read the paper version of the Financial Times on Saturday. For the Life & Arts section, chiefly. OK, and for the property porn.
  • Easy on the social media. Curate what you see. On Facebook, I follow people I know in real life and leading publications that are relevant for me. 30 minutes a day, tops. If I exceed this, at least I am learning something, not watching lame pussycat memes. I can do better on this, so I switched off all push notifications last week.
  • Develop a daily practice to serve you. You’re reading mine. It’s my form of meditation. Also, I walk. A lot.
  • Spend close to zero time on shit you hate (and are probably terrible at). It took me the longest time to learn this. Small scale outsourcing proved most freeing and possibly life-saving for me.
  • Spend time with people who energise you. I like this as a gauge:
    • plus: people you look up to and are better at things that you care about;
    • equal: people who are as good as you are at those;
    • minus: people who are not as good at them as you are.

Plus for humility, equal for sharpening your practice, minus to become a (better) teacher and launch it forward.

  • Learn to give zero fucks about what other people think of you. I studied a lot of creative high performers the last year. Almost all have failed abysmally, often multiple times and suffer from bouts of self-doubt, if not depression, throughout their life. They develop a practice to serve, stay humble and remain compassionate. At the same time they learn to let go of what other people think. Staying ahead of your own inner critic is hard enough.
  • Develop questions as guideposts to improve decisions. Learn to challenge yourself on your pitfalls. It’s the best way to prevent you from repeating your fuckups. Habits are easier to keep if you use checklists.

When did you last check in with your habits?

Plus/equal/minus honestly stolen from Ryan Holiday, anti fuck up questions from Tim Ferriss.

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