We all face challenges in life. This injury was one of mine, and the experience taught me a critical lesson: changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.
You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.
Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.
The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.
The biggest barrier to positive change at any level—individual, team, society—is identity conflict.
Identity change is the North Star of habit change.
As habits are created, the level of activity in the brain decreases.
Whenever possible, the conscious mind likes to pawn off tasks to the nonconscious mind to do automatically. This is precisely what happens when a habit is formed.
The process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.
When scientists analyze people who appear to have tremendous self-control, it turns out those individuals aren’t all that different from those who are struggling. Instead, “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.
To put it bluntly, I have never seen someone consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment.
When it comes to habits, the key takeaway is this: dopamine is released not only when you experience pleasure, but also when you anticipate it.
One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.
In the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments that are now taught to legions of undergrads each year.
When changing your habits means challenging the tribe, change is unattractive. When changing your habits means fitting in with the tribe, change is very attractive.
This means that simply putting in your reps is one of the most critical steps you can take to encoding a new habit.
The average person spends over two hours per day on social media. What could you do with an extra six hundred hours per year?
The first three laws of behavior change—make it obvious, make it attractive, and make it easy—increase the odds that a behavior will be performed this time. The fourth law of behavior change—make it satisfying—increases the odds that a behavior will be repeated next time. It completes the habit loop.
Put another way, the costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.
As Charlie Munger says, “The first rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily.”