Monday, June 12, 2017

To change your life, get a habit

Warren Buffett reads all day to build the knowledge necessary for his investments. Stephen King writes 1000 words a day, 365 days a year (a habit he describes as “a sort of creative sleep.”) Athlete Eliud Kipchoge makes notes after each training session to establish areas which can be improved.

And me? I floss.

  • We want to learn a new language. We could decide we want to be fluent in 6 months (goal), or we could commit to 30-minutes of practice each day (habit.)
  • We want to read more books. We could set the goal to read 50 books by the end of the year, or we could decide to always carry one (habit.)
  • We want to spend more time with family. We could plan to spend 7 hours a week with family (goal), or we could choose to eat dinner with them each night (habit.)
We already operate through habit. Someone has estimated that habits make up 40 percent of our waking hours. I know that's how much time I devote to flossing. William James, who dedicated his life to thinking up clever quotes we could borrow long after he was dead, said: "All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits – practical, emotional, and intellectual – systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be."

Perhaps the best way to think about habits was expressed by Ghandi: "Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny."

Or clean teeth.

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