Leverage habits to get things done without using your will power reserves.

1. Habits are compound interest of self improvement

1.1. Small incremental changes can result in massive results.
1.2. If you improve just 1% each day, you’ll become 37.5% better by the end (also true for becoming worse).
1.3. This 1% choice seems insignificant today but compound over a time period. People cannot see this in action since it’s a long term effect.

2. You fall to the level of your systems

2.1. Systems are the processes you use in your life.
2.2. You win or lose based on how good your systems are.
2.3. For sustained improvement, design better systems which define how you work.
2.4. Systems are more reliable than things like ‘goals’ and ‘motivation’.

“You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

3. What are habits?

3.1. Habits are auto-scripts your brain writes to reduce the cognitive load on recurring tasks.
3.2. When you execute habits, you’re using less will power as you’re relying on your systems to do something.
3.3. Your brain now has more energy to address other tasks.

4. Habit Cycle

4.1. The four steps of the habit cycle are ‘Cue’, ‘Craving’, ‘Response’, ‘Reward’.
4.2. Example:
Cue — going out with friends (people cue)
Craving — for a beer
Response — drinking
Reward — the conversations with the friends (and probably not the act of drinking itself)

In the above example, the cue is the people. A cue could also be a time cue or a location cue or an emotion cue, etc.

5. How to create good habits

5.1. Follow the OAES rule. Make your cues ‘obvious’, your craving ‘attractive’, your response ‘easy’ and your reward ‘satisfying’.
5.2. This rule makes the threshold of repeating the habit low which allows us to create the habit easily.

6. How to break bad habits

6.1. Follow the IUDU rule which is the opposite of the OAES rule. Make your cues ‘invisible’, your craving ‘unattractive’, your response ‘difficult’ and your reward ‘unsatisfying’.
6.2. Example of negative cues are the mobile phone next to your work desk and the cookies next to your couch.

Thanks for reading!

This is a part of my ‘Life Academy’ series.

You can access the complete series of all the personal development and self-improvement takeaways here.