There are 3 main pillars that largely influence our outcomes in life:

  1. Our choices/decisions/strategies
  2. Our habits
  3. Luck/randomness

We only have control over two of these – the choices we make and our habits. 

The strategy or choices you make set your trajectory, set your potential upside and if it’s a good decision there is no ceiling.

Habits are how you capitalise on that potential set by your choices. Your effort, your hard work, your habits are how you execute the strategy. No matter how good your strategy is, if you don’t have a good set of habits, which is effectively your system, you are not going to get anywhere. 

If there are two entrepreneurs, one decides to open a gym and the other decides to start a cloud-computing business. You may conclude that the computing business has more potential upside, a higher ceiling, but if the entrepreneur running that business has a poor collection of habits and the gym entrepreneur has a great system or set of habits then he or she may go onto have more success. 

Good Decision + Good Habits = Making Most Of Your Opportunities. 

Habits can be physical, mental or emotional i.e. there are habits of action or behaviours, habits of thought and habits of feelings.  

According to researchers at Duke University, 40-50% of our actions on any given day are done out of habit but the true effects on your day are much more significant than that because they often open the door to a whole series of other behaviours. A difference between a productive and an unproductive day can be a few habit choices at decisive moments in the day. 

The habits you repeat (or don’t repeat) every day have a major influence on your success, health, wealth and happiness. 

Habits are the best way to close the gap between what you want and what you actually do. They are solutions to recurring problems in your environment.

According to Ray Dalio in his book Principles a “Habit is probably the most powerful tool in your brain’s toolbox.”

But many of us underestimate the importance of our habits.

Why? 

Partly because they are automatic and most of the time we are not conscious of them. In neuroscience terms the basal ganglia takes over from the cortex so that you can do something without thinking about it.

And partly because when we are making small changes each day we don’t notice any results. 

Productive habits don’t often give us the quick reward we would like and we have to patiently wait for the desired outcomes 6 months or further down the line. 

For example, if we commit to consistently spending an hour a day marketing to new clients this is unlikely to bring in any new clients in the short-term but it is (assuming we are being effective!) in the medium to long-term. 

Or, if we decide to read for 1 hour a day, we may not feel our knowledge is expanding too much initially but imagine over time how much knowledge you will accumulate over the long-term if that commitment becomes engrained, a habit. Just ask Warren Buffet if you are struggling to imagine!

Most of the impactful changes we make in our lifetimes will come from the long-term effects of our habits, not from a one-off, big, transformative event. Your outcomes today are the product of your habits over the years gone by. Your outcomes tomorrow will be the product of the habits you have today. Point your sail boat in the right direction and replicate productive habits you will likely get the outcome you want; deviate and duplicate poor habits you will likely get poor results. 

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”, as James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits

Nothing will alter your future trajectory more than your habits. If you improve 1% each day over a year, at the end of the year you will be 37 times better than you were at the beginning. 

Small changes, small habits turn into a transformation. 

If you want to predict where your business is going to be in 5 years’ time, set your goals and strategy and then follow the compounded effects of your daily habits.

THE VIDEO SPARK 

In this video clip BJ Fogg explains how to break a habit. The brain doesn’t differentiate between good and bad habits; it’s ourselves or our culture which labels our habits good or bad. He thinks some people have trivialised how easy it is to stop a habit which has caused people to blame themselves if they are unable to kick a habit. He believes it easier to start a habit than stop one. He has developed a three-phase master plan for getting rid of unwanted behaviours:

  1. Create good habits in order to set aside bad habits and create a new identity
  2. Design for stopping a habit – either decrease motivation or ability or remove/avoid/ignore the prompt
  3. Swap a bad behaviour for a good behaviour

THE QUESTION SPARK

If you had a magic wand, and you could get yourself to be more productive what would you do?

THE QUOTATION SPARK

“Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realise – they are strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.” 

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Book)

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See you in a month’s time. Keep well. Give > Take.

Mark