James Clear on Making Habits
I’ve been reading articles by James Clear for a bunch of years. He shares all kinds of useful life hacks. Over the last few years, he has written quite a bit about making and keeping good habits, a subject that is near and dear to my heart—and core to my message.
His suggestions differ from mine, but they are not that different.
My recommended strategy is to break down your goals into small pieces and work on one at a time for the 21 days it takes to create a habit. We have a limited amount of willpower, so it’s important not to try to create habits that are too overwhelming, or to try to create more than one habit at the same time.
Recently, Clear shared a new strategy for building habits he’s been using that has worked incredibly well for him. He explains, “This strategy is remarkably easy and it is governed by three simple rules.” (Simple rules, more music to my ears.)
Here are his rules for sticking with good habits:
- Start with a version of the habit that is incredibly easy for you. It must be so easy that you can’t say no to doing it and so easy that it is not difficult at all in the beginning.
- Increase your habit each day, but in an incredibly small way.
- Even after increasing your habit, all repetitions must remain easy. The total habit should be broken down into easier pieces if needed.
He shared the following example:
I recently decided to make pushups a daily habit.
- The first day, I did 10 pushups, which only took 15 seconds or so. (Rule 1.)
- The second day, I did 11 pushups. This was a very tiny improvement. (Rule 2.)
- I’ve continued this pattern of adding 1 pushup per day, every single day. I did 21 this morning, which was still easy to do and took less than 30 seconds. (Rule 3.)
Once I get to higher numbers, I will break them up into smaller, easier sets. For example, to do 50 pushups, I might do three sets: 20, 20, 10. The next day, I’ll add one more and do 20, 20, 11.
If you would like to read Clear’s complete article on this subject, you can read it on JamesClear.com. And you might want to check out Clear’s recently published book, Atomic Habits, which I enjoyed very much.
How have you made new habits? Please join the conversation with your comments…