Use Simplicity to Take Action

When something is complicated, the mind bumps into, and focus on the complexity instead of taking action. To help you take action, breaking down what you want to do in simple, clear, small and easy tasks will often do the trick. When a task is so small that it takes only a minute to do, it’s easy to have a first win. That easy win will grow into more successes.

Whether it’s exercise, eating better, creativity, work, un-cluttering, or learning new skills, using simplicity is an easy to reproduce system for everything in your life that you feel needs a change. Starting simple, clear, small and easy will compound into big results over time, even if today, it seems ridiculous.

Can you think of big tasks you’ve put off because they seem too complicated, and break them into simple, clear, small and easy steps?

“When the book is open, it’s easy to lean inside and read a few lines.”


Our Default Self vs Habit Design

People rarely change their behaviour for good. Your brains tend to revert to your old ways of thinking and doing. The old pathways are still there and because they are so familiar to you, you use them when you’re not paying attention.

The habits you most recently acquired are the ones most likely to go first. The enemy of your brand new habit is your past behaviour.

There are a few things you must do if you want your new shiny habit to stick.

The behaviour you’re trying to make into a habit needs to be repeated  often, and/or must be perceives as having a high degree of utility. This means the behaviour needs to give you great pleasure, or help you avoid pain.

Indeed, a behaviour that provides minimal perceived benefit can become a habit just because you repeat it often.

Science has yet to determine the length of time it takes to form new habits. If you read it takes 21 days or 6 months to form a new habit, these are just myths that have been debunked many times already.

Habits are wonderful tools that can help you create a rich life. If you carefully plan which habits you want to establish, you’ll get more success in making your dreams come true.

Combine the formula to creating habits with frequency, perceived benefits, focus, and persistence will most definitely turn you into a master habit maker. The formula that creates habits (good or bad) is a follow:

Cue -> Behaviour -> Reward = Habit

If you think habits are boring, that you hate routines, and you think you are living your life with spontaneity now, think again. You are already living at least 40% your life through a routine. If you didn’t design the habits yourself, chances are other people — your boss, clients, marketers, spouse, children, friends, family, yogi master — have done it for you.


Don’t Rely Solely on Motivation

Because motivation is unreliable, you shouldn’t base your success strategies on it. Yes, it can sometimes help you get your ass off to the gym, or make you work on your side project. The problem is if you depend on motivation to get things done, or to accomplish your goals, you might end up achieving nothing because you have no control over when it’s going to hit you.

Motivation is simply a desire to do something. Often, when motivation strikes, you hit Google for instant gratification and an overload of information instead of working on a simple task that would bring you closer to success. Indeed, doing only 10 push ups is 100% better than watching 10 videos about the best workout in the world.

What about getting motivation from a reward, an external source? Looks like this is a poor route to take because as soon as the reward is removed from the equation, performance decreases.

A reward can also shift your focus from the task to the motivator (reward) when you need to use more brain power. Therefor, it reduces your accomplishments. However, it can work great for very simple or repetitive tasks where you don’t need to think.

If an external source of motivation won’t get you to do what you want to do, it’s time to take a look inside yourself, tap into this abundant resource some call drive, passion, self-discipline, or self-motivation. You can build strong self-discipline by starting small. You’ll still get a reward, but the reward will be your accomplishment. Progress, and the simple act of completing something are going to be your awesome rewards.

Are you a motivation addict? I know I used to be until I understood the simple distinction between external motivation and self-motivation. I can now rely on motivation to start something (see the big picture), and use self-motivation to accomplish my goal.

Thanks for reading, and take care!

If This, Then That

Back in 2003, I changed my life over, and learn PHP. I used this skill to build websites, and earn a living until something bad happened; I didn’t get paid for a big project I already had spend countless hours on. I decided it was enough. I used the skill to build my own websites, and be free of people who don’t pay.

I tell you this because many programming languages use the If/Then statement. It got me thinking that this way of conducting ourselves is being applied to real life situations. Except that we’re not aware this conditional statement is driving us.

What if we became conscious, and use the If/Then statement to create new habits?

Habits are created through a formula that goes like this: you get a signal, or cue, that triggers the desired behaviour. This desired behaviour is then rewarded.

Habit = Signal > Behaviour > Reward

The signal is the If in the If/Then statement, and the behaviour and the reward are the Then. Because the signal, the If, is what makes us do the desired behaviour, the Then, it makes sense to focus on creating strong Ifs.

There’s also the possibility to use the behaviour, or the reward, as an If. This is even better because it creates an infinite Loop of desired, rewarded behaviour that signal the next desired behaviour.

It might look like using this technique would make us behave like programs. Whether you like it or not, you’re already acting as a program. During any given day, we are 80% habit driven*, but most of those habits would need a major upgrade. Besides, I’d rather be the one taking decisions concerning the important things in my life.

Do you have a chain, or a Loop of habits that would need an upgrade?

* I don’t remember the source of this statistic, but when I do, I’ll add it as a reference that I’m not throwing numbers out in thin air for the fun of it.