…I’ve been studying up on the underlying science of habit design. I’ve been digging into advice from expert habit practitioners like Leo Babauta, James Clear, Charles Duhigg, and BJ Fogg. I’ve been documenting what works and what doesn’t, and more important, I’ve been using myself as a…
While we’re naming expert habit practitioners, I’d like to call people’s attention to Gretchen Rubin and her book Better Than Before. Lots and lots of habit advice falls into a “One Magic Trick” format that doesn’t acknowledge that people are different and thus need different strategies.
Gretchen does a great job of helping you self assess what strategies fit your personality.
The two big ones that have helped me help people form habits were:
Abstainers vs. Moderators. A moderator can put a bar of chocolate in their desk drawer and then break off one piece a day. If that’s you, congrats, you can succeed with moderation strategies. If you eat all of the chocolate instantly, then you’d be better off choosing complete abstinence. I think there’s some similarity to Robert’s realization about his exercise that he needs a non-negotiable block in his day.
The Habit Tendency Quiz. Basically you come down as Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, Rebel and these explain a lot about how you relate to external advice and accountability. Upholders can hold themselves accountable and so don’t need external accountability, Obligers are very sensitive to external accountability (which you can just buy at Coach.me), Questioners need to know why, Rebels want to do it their own way.
In practice, this habit tendency quiz is helpful because a lot of people expect the world to work differently than they are wired. So a rebel might be frustrated that they can’t just follow the steps Robert followed in this article. But once you self-identify as a rebel, you know you’re wired to riff a completely different approach. On the flip side, an Obliger might read Robert’s post and lean towards following it to the letter — missing that there are probably some individual tweaks required.