How to Create Change That Sticks - THINKERS Notebook

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How to Create Change That Sticks

As Sean mentioned in last week's newsletter, my wife and I welcomed a son into this wonderful world last week.

He referred to him as "Boy Morris" because we hadn't yet chosen a name. Well, we can now retire that awkward moniker because he finally has a name: Theodore Robert Morris. 

And as many parents do while sitting and holding their precious newborn, I've spent a lot of time this week thinking about the lessons I want to impart on him and his older sister.

One of those lessons is the enduring power of habits.

Here is a short essay I wrote back in 2019 about why habits are more important than goals, along with some links to help the idea sink in.

The best way to create lasting change

In almost every walk of life, our success or failure is determined by our habits. 

Good habits that are executed consistently layer positive impact upon positive impact, and over time we reap the compounding rewards of these positive impacts.

Bad habits have exactly the opposite impact. Maybe we can outrun or outmaneuver bad habits in the short term, but it's almost always a losing formula in the long run.

And the real kicker of bad habits is their opportunity cost: all of that potential compounding impact from the good habits lost, in addition to the negative impact of the bad habits.

A double whammy.

This is an important idea to consider with the new year rapidly approaching.

Many people approach the holiday season as a time for reflecting on the previous year's successes and failures, hits and misses, positives and negatives, with an eye toward being better in the new year.

This often leads to the declaration of resolutions or the setting of new goals. And while the spirit driving both may be admirable, the rationale turns out to be pretty flawed.

Because neither resolutions nor goals seem to work as well at driving significant changes as creating new habits. 

Goals can be great, but what happens once the goal is achieved?

The power of habits is that when you build them into the fabric of your life, they endure. They last. The change they bring isn't temporary; it can be permanent ... or at least long-lasting.

Keep that in mind any time you are considering s you consider how to be better in the new year. Or, if you don't want to wait that long, how to be better starting right now. ;-)

Here are this week's links ... which you can apply to become a better thinker, or really to being better in any area of your life.

Be proactive about building the habit of thinking. 

"Do you want to take your life to the next level? If you do, then one of the most important things you can do is building the thinking habit.

"Why is it important?

"Because the habit helps you live intentionally. Instead of just making default decisions, you will make thoughtful decisions. Instead of living on autopilot, you will live by design.​"

Read: How to Build the Thinking Habit (Life Optimizer)

Habits > Goals

"A goal-oriented mind-set can create a 'yo-yo' effect. Many runners work hard for months, but as soon as they cross the finish line, they stop training. The race is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it? This is why many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after accomplishing a goal.

"The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

"Fall In love with systems."

Read: Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead (James Clear)

And this article seemed interesting given the time of year that it is ...

Make your personal algorithms work for you

"Habits are algorithms operating in the background that power our lives. Good habits help us reach our goals more effectively and efficiently. Bad ones makes things harder or prevent success entirely. Habits powerfully influence our automatic behavior."

Read: Habits vs. Goals: A Look at the Benefits of a Systematic Approach to Life (Farnam Street)

Quote of the week

"Good habits are worth being fanatical about."

-- John Irving