Friday, November 7, 2014

Getting That Habit Right

For quite sometime, I have been trying to master the art of habit formation. Slowly I discovering a pattern with myself on mastering it both by experimenting on myself and reading. 

I struck goldmine when I explored and experimented with Dr.BJ Fogg's TinyHabits program. A Professor at Stanford University, USA and an experimental psychologist by education, Dr.Fogg explicitly details the way behavior change happens. 

Not only theorizing upon his new found knowledge, he also conducted a little experiment to exploit it for the benefit of others. He runs an online accountable program on his website to help you learn the patterns of forming a new habit, decide upon one and do it as part of his 1-week program (You can join it here). 

While exploiting this online program, I also explored other avenues on 'what' on habits. Concepts of SlightEdge and the remarkably similar book Compound Effect validates this assumption on starting small, making minor course correction to achieve the greater good. 

What will be the most effective and popular habits? Those followed by the highly successful, super rich, effective etc. This lead me to discover that the topmost priority for most of us were Health Habits, followed by Relationship building and Productivity Habits. 

My previous reading and self-improvement experiments (on principles developed by Dr.Stephen R.Covey, Jack Canfield, etc) lead me discover 4 key essential areas in one's life:
1. Health: aka Physical fitness, Stamina, Food habits, Weight, etc
2. Relationship: Encompassing the emotional aspect of our life - love relationship, kinship, etc
3. Productivity
4. Philanthropy
5. Spiritual

This is where I had the clash of content between the two most buzzwords in Productivity Literature - Habits v/s Goals. I discovered that clarity when I learnt about them from James Clear

While Goals define a target, a destination to be reached, Habits refer to the lifestyle behavior one needs to do practice to achieve those target. This simple clarify helped me distinguish between those and merge those to help me create that process. 

While people like Covey, Canfield helped me define the what, James Clear, Fogg helped to navigate the process of how to achieve the what.

This clearly defined I must deliberately explain you the last one which I actually searched first. The process of tracking one's progress and believe the web is loaded with such information. Tactics like - Seinfeld's Don't Break the Chain, GoalTracker apps, Ben Franklin's book on tracking 13 Virtues etc were to be considered as helping the process.

But one should remember that this is the last one in the whole process: Review & Reflection. And I don't demean it anytime soon. Though I wrongly believed that having a foolproof tracking system will help me achieve the goals, I soon realised that it may be also necessary.

Now with my 'what' and 'how' clear I am using the Review systems to reflect upon my progress over the week. For me daily tracking doesn't seem work. James Clear calls this Backward approach, where at the end of week one reflects and reviews upon the 'Habits' one was suppose to do to achieve the overarching ultimate 'Goals'. 

Again after trying out few web apps, I am contentful with an excel sheet that tracks my Habits as I decided to do. 

I am getting in form now, I am doing regularly doing exercise, got a chance to deliberately build practices/ habits to strengthen my family life, made lifestyle changes (though minor) to improve my nutritious uptake and also develop my productivity. 

I hope to share more such experiments in my later blogs. 

Take care,

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