Background & Purpose
Warren Buffet rightly quotes
Chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
Good habits bring out positive outcomes and bad habits breed negative outcomes. Your habits can come under any bracket but the impacts they bring along are long-lasting and to an extent determine the quality of the life you lead. I spent my last hours of new year’s eve brain-storming, about how I wanted my 2021 to shape up, what kind of habits I wanted to adopt and what toxic patterns, I wanted to avoid.
One major habit, I wanted to adopt was to become an avid and a voracious reader and apply what I have learned. I am reading a book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. It talks about a 4 stage process for adopting new habits. I want to experiment and explore the ideas presented in this book and share my learnings with a wider audience.
What outcomes I want to achieve by reading ‘Atomic Habits’?
- Becoming more self-aware of my behaviors. Add more quality to my life by subtracting the negative behaviors
- Want to test, whether the principles presented in this book really work or not? I am committing thoroughly to embrace everything with an open mind presented in the book.
- Adopt a new habit to consistently blog. In summarizing, committing myself to write an article once per week on Sunday.
What I have learned so far from reading ‘Atomic Habits’
Many of our habits are on autopilot which means that they do not need our conscious attention. This makes habits useful and dangerous as well. As habits form, our actions come under the direction of our unconscious mind. Few of the examples
- When you learn how to type and it becomes a habit, you can type without evening seeing the keyboard. You build your muscle memory and your fingers go to the right letters for the words, you want to write.
- Driving a car, seeing the traffic signal turning red, you unconciously put your feet on the brake pedals.
- Playing any musical instrument e.g. Guitar and if you have practiced enough and developed your muscle memory, your fingers exactly know which strings and frets to go to in order to play the chords correctly
This book talks about four principles when adopting any new habit. The first principle talks about
Make your habits obvious
The foundation of this principle is based on the fact that
We must begin the process of behavior change with awareness.
This is a simple but yet powerful tool. James clearly states that, if a habit remains mindless, you can’t expect to improve it. We can’t improve on an “UNKNOWN” territory which resides in our subconscious mind. He recommends several tools to bring visibility to our invisible behaviors. Two of the tools, I really liked are given below :
- Pointing and calling. This method is part of occupational safety for avoiding mistakes by pointing out important indicators and calling out the status loudly. This method is widely used in Japan and the railway systems in china. Making large gestures and speaking out the status helps the people to be attentive and focussed.
- Habit Score Card is a simple exercise and it can be used to implement the “Pointing and Calling” system in our personal lives.
Let’s explore how to create a Habit scorecard to bring awareness to our unconscious behaviors
How To Create a Habit Scorecard
The process of creating a Habit scorecard is really simple. Follow the following steps
- Put a high-level list of your daily activities from morning to evening.
- Rate each of your activities by using the following signs
- Put an ‘=’ sign against an activity that represents a neutral behavior
- Put a ‘-‘ sign against an activity that you believe will bring a negative impact
- Put a ‘+’ sign against an activity that you believe will bring a positive impact
- When you are rating your Habit Scorecard, remember to be neutral and not to judge your activities as “good” or “bad” habits. This exercise is simply to put your behaviors in perspective.
- Once finished the rating, reflect why you term a certain behavior as ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ for your future self.
My Personal Habit Score-card
Why did I rate certain behaviors as ‘Positive’ or ‘Negative’
- In the morning, opening my eyes browsing social media is not healthy. I can use this time constructively for my prayers or take an early shower and plan the rest of my day.
- I find reading a book during my lunchtime is positive as it helps me take my mind off work and using this constructively helps me achieve my goal of reading for that day.
- I have labeled watching TV as negative because of three prime reasons
- As soon as I come back from the office, I do binge-watching of ‘Game of Thrones’. I spend the whole of my day at a computer, this is a time where I can really go for a workout and help reduce the eye strain
- I am watching TV for almost 3-4 hours a day, which is keeping my other priorities in the backseat. For example, I have certain certifications and a Nano degree I am due to complete by March, but it’s at the back burner at the moment due to excessive binging.
- Browsing social media at late night is also bringing negative impact because it is disturbing my usual sleep cycle.
Reflections & Next Steps
- I found this simple exercise pretty useful. It has helped me bring my behaviors in perspective and pointed out opportunities where I can improve.
- For the next week, I am going to exercise a small modification, I will not check my phone or browse social media in the morning. I will simply use this time to do three little things
- Close my eyes and say thanks how grateful I am to God to give me another day of life.
- I will go to the shower early.
- Plan my day first before making my breakfast.
What are the small changes, you are planning to implement?
Comment below and let me know. Stay tuned, as I will report back on my progress on 14th February 🙂