Episode Number: 282

Episode 282 – Atomic Habits: How Tiny Changes Spark Remarkable Results w/ James Clear REWIND

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Show notes

James Clear 0:03

Sometimes we pick habits that we just aren't motivated to do. And that's just a recipe for failure from the start. But in many cases, you do kind of want to do it, but it either needs to be smaller, you need to like scale it down using a two minute rule. Or you need to find the right tribe to hang out with so that your desired behaviors the normal behavior, and you're socially reinforced to stick to the habit rather than having it pull you in the other direction.

Intro 0:27

Minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host jameelah. So frogs as a money expert who boxers she helps brave juniors like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom for three to one.

Jamila Souffrant 0:56

Hey, hey, hey, Jaron yours. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast, it's me, Jamila souffrant. And I am ecstatic that you decided to take some time out and have fun with me today and learn and be inspired. So this week will be a rewind episode. So I'm doing something a bit new for the month of August. I'm doing rewind episodes, I am selecting some of my favorite episodes. And quite honestly, we have over 200 episodes, and I have so many favorites, but I'm selecting episodes where I feel like even if you heard it already, you're gonna love hearing it again, hopefully. And if you're totally new to the show, never heard an episode, it's still going to be a treat, because these episodes will still be super impactful for you. So first up is an episode that I did with James clear it was originally episode 81 Atomic habits how tiny changes spark remarkable results. So James clear, wrote the book atomic habits, it's been on the New York Times bestselling list and other bestselling list for I'd even know like, multiple years now, it's a really good book if you haven't picked it up yet. But even if you have or this is your first time hearing about it, this will be I think, a great episode to help you with your habit. And especially because we're now entering into fall. So for a lot of us, this is a new season that's occurring that's about to occur. And you know, that may mean the start of school I know my down south folks, you guys already your kids already started school. I'm up in New York, my kids don't start school until September. But either way, like now's a great time to think about our habits, which really create our lives. You know, the things that we do ongoing every day. So this episode is with James clear, fun fact I actually just cold DM James clear. When I got this episode years ago, I just DM him and told him that I really loved his work and love Him love for him to come on the podcast. And that doesn't always work. Again, I get it because I get some cold DMS too. But it's not always the best way to reach out. But in this case, it did work out and I got James clear on the podcast. I'm really excited that you get to tune in and listen to this oldie but goodie episode today.

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journey to launch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are an OG journeyer, or brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes, so listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources and so much more. You can go to journey to launch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Hey journeyers, I'm super excited to bring on today's guest, I have been devouring his book atomic habits, I am really excited because this is one of those books that I really believe gets really deep into some of the concepts and things we need to implement in our lives to actually succeed not just in life, but in our finances in our journey and having a happy, productive life. So thank you, James, for being here. Welcome to the podcast.

James Clear 4:26

Hey, how's it going?

Jamila Souffrant 4:28

I like bringing on different types of guests and different types of content. I don't only like talking about money, and about numbers. I really like to talk about the things that really support this journey to financial freedom and independence. And I believe habits is a big part of that. And so James, one of the things I really like about your book is how deep you go into like the structure and the intricacies of creating habits and breaking bad habits. But I wanted to dive deeper into like actual the actual name because I think it's brilliant. Why the name atomic why a time megabits. Why did you choose that?

James Clear 5:02

Sure. So I, first your point about covering different types of content, I think that's smart. You know, like, there are a lot of things that are part of the financial journey. And one of them is figuring out how to master your own psychology and mindset and your behavior and habits. And really, you know, any financial journey is going to take a long time. So figuring out how to dial your habits in and how they work and how to shape them. So they work for you rather than against you is definitely a big part of that process, to your question about the phrase atomic habits, so I chose the word of the title atomic habits for three reasons. So the first meaning of the word atomic is what you might expect. So like tiny or small, like an atom. And that is a key piece of my philosophy, that habit should be small and easy to do. But the second meaning of the word atomic, and one that's often overlooked, is that atomic means the fundamental unit in a larger system. So atoms build into molecules, molecules, build into compounds, and so on. And in a way habits are sort of like the atoms of our lives, they're like these little fundamental routines that you do each day. And when you put them all together, you end up with the overall system of your daily routine or your daily ritual. And then the third and final meaning of the word atomic is the source of immense energy or power. And I think that if you combine all three of those meanings, then you understand the narrative arc of the book, which is if you make changes that are small and easy to do, and you layer them on top of each other like units and a larger system, then you can end up with some really powerful results in the long run. And so I feel like that phrase encapsulates kind of my overarching approach and the way that I tried to attack building better habits and creating a system of change in your in your overall life.

Jamila Souffrant 6:50

And like you said, it's so integral to like any to your overall life, but that it's something that a lot of people don't focus on. So I remember when I first started, like talking about this content, and, you know, I had a formula, which is, I mean, a formula everyone uses, like, the income minus expenses equals what you can do with like, reaching your goals. And I then modified it to say, but to multiply that to actually, like, fast track your goals, if there is such a thing, you need to layer on habits, like as the multiplier, which for me, which is why your book spoke so loud to me why, why it made so much sense, because I'm like, that's it if people really understood how habits could really, really if they got that part, right, or at least if they try to improve their habits, like all the other stuff, so you know, whether that's like, whatever, bringing lunch to work, or earning more money, saving more money, whatever it looks like for that person, if they layered on and, and had habits that would support those efforts, then they would make a lot more strides towards the goals.

James Clear 7:49

Yeah, this is one of the things that I cover early in the book, where I talk about this kind of idea that habits are the compound interest of self improvement. So you know, right now, we're talking about in the context of finance, but I think that it applies to almost any area of life, we're on the same domain, that you build better habits. And so the the same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiplies, you repeat them across time. So, you know, it's it's very, if you're saving for retirement, and you save $100, this month, it's easy, especially early on to dismiss that to feel like, well, you know, what's that do? Like, I can't retire. $100, like what, you know, why bother? Maybe I should buy these shoes instead. And those choices are easy to rationalize early in the process, because it doesn't seem like it makes that big of a difference. And habits are somewhat similar. You know, like, what is the difference between eating a burger and fries for lunch or eating a salad, not a whole lot on any given day, like your body looks the same in the mirror at the end of the night, the scale doesn't really change. But if you repeat those habits for two or five, or 10 or 20 years, then all sudden you turn around a decade later, and you're like, wow, those daily choices really do add up. And it's the same way with with compound interest in finance, right? Like if you sock away 100 bucks every month, well turn around two decades, you end up having a lot more to show for it, even though it feels relatively insignificant on any given day. And I think once you understand this, once you can see it a little more clearly how habits don't just add up they actually compound over time, then you start to appreciate the fact that those daily choices are really the difference between living and that your ideal life or your best life or maximizing your potential and just kind of puttering along at an average pace. It doesn't seem like much, but it counts for a lot. I actually have a personal example of this. I just finished doing my annual review for the past year, and I track how many workouts I do. And I did okay, this last year was busy Using a book and doing other things, but on average, I had about one less workout per week this past year than I did two years ago. And if you look at the numbers, if you look at the results, I didn't hit any personal bests or personal records in the gym this year, whereas I hit three the year before. It doesn't sound like a lot, but one workout a week was the difference. That was the the gap between my best performances and my average performances. I think that that that thin margin between your best and mediocrity is sometimes surprising, we don't fully appreciate just how much dialing in your habits on a daily or weekly basis can count for in the long run.

Jamila Souffrant 10:41

Yeah, and you say this in the book, like there's a critical threshold, where you don't like you're saying you don't you don't see the result. And like, I can totally relate in terms of working out, I'm actually having this issue myself, where I used to, before I had all my kids, I was very much into working out. And now I'm at the point where when I worked out now, you know, it's not obviously I'm not seeing the results, like right away, I'm gonna have to continuously do it. And I'm at the point where I just don't have the patience to wait. But I know that if I kept doing it every day, or if I set a time, you know, up just to do it without caring about the results, it will happen like they're happening over time, I'll reach that critical threshold where it will all make sense. And I feel like that's why so many people do give up and quote unquote, fail at whatever goal they set finances health working out is because they don't see the immediate traction they want to see but not realizing that if but they keep going. That's that's the traction is happening, the changes are happening. But they're so small, they're so the molecules are so little, but they're changing.

James Clear 11:46

Well, and this is why I think it's important to build what I call identity based habits rather than outcome based ones. Because if you just are focused on the result, then it's very easy, especially for any of these things that are more of a long game, like getting fit or saving for retirement, or paying off your mortgage, or writing a book, that all of those things are very long projects. And so if you make it just about the end result just about, you know, being financially independent, or having your house paid off, or having the books in the store, hitting a certain number on the scale, or having six pack abs or whatever, if it's only about the outcome, then it's really hard to feel motivated in the long run, you know, day in and day out, because you're still waiting for that to accrue. But if instead you make it about the identity, right, it's not about getting to a certain number on the scale, it's about becoming the type of person who doesn't miss workouts, right? It's not about the outcome, it's about being a certain type of person, or it's not about having a million dollars in the bank, it's about being a saver. If you can internalize that identity and build your habits around reinforcing being a certain type of person, then you every time you show up, you can feel like it's a success, right? Like, the goal is not to write a book, the goal is to become a writer, because then when you sit down you write, even if it's only one sentence, or only for 10 minutes, you're being a writer, you're reinforcing that identity. And of course, if you if you selected it properly from the beginning, by showing up and being that kind of person by reinforcing that identity, ultimately, it will get you to the outcome, right? It's like what you just said, you know, I know that if I go to the gym, the results will be there. But it's just hard to have that patience when you're waiting for the long term outcome. And so I think one of the most effective ways to do that is to build small habits and cast small votes through your actions for being a particular type of person, rather than trying to achieve a particular type of result.

Jamila Souffrant 13:44

And that reminds me so closely to the be do have model. Have you heard of that?

James Clear 13:50

Yes, yeah, it's very similar to that, right? Like, yeah, so often, we think, oh, I need to have this outcome. And then I'll be who I want to be, but instead just inverted, right? Like, I need to act like this type of person, be this kind of person. And then eventually, the outcome will come naturally.

Jamila Souffrant 14:04

Right. And for those listening who have not heard of that, that's the model. The do have B is what most people operate from where they they think they have to do the action, they have to and in the case of your book we talking about you have to you're going towards like the action that's what you're doing it for for the outcome, versus like the identity based habit using the as a B do have model you become the person who does those things first, and then you'll have and have those things next. So I think it's important because that I think, is the missing link. It's so simple. It's such a simple concept, but it doesn't mean that it's easy sounding easy concept, because so many of us are into instant gratification. And you know, I have problem with discipline in certain areas. So, I love that you you kind of differentiated like that we should be basing it on identity and which reminds me also that it's all about the journey. You know, this is the thing where you're not going to see the world comes but the journey, like the fact that you're on the journey, like you have to find joy within the process, because that is what it's all about. And while you find the joy, while you're not paying attention too much to the outcome, the outcomes will happen.

James Clear 15:13

Yeah, I agree.

Jamila Souffrant 15:15

Okay, so one of the things you you talk about is that we have to also like operate in terms of our habits, like all habits kind of fall on it like these four, like this four prong like approach or system. And that's the cue system, the crave response and reward. It's not really a system, but it's like this is the process in which habits are formed good and bad. So can you talk a little bit about that?

James Clear 15:42

Sure. So yeah, I like to think of it as like a four step framework. And you can pretty much think of all habits and possibly the majority of human behavior as going through these four stages progressing through them in some way. So the first stage, as you mentioned, is the queue. So the queue can be anything that catches your attention, it could be like your phone buzzing in your pocket. So that's like a tactile cue or a touch cue. Because once that sensation, but often cues are visual, humans are very visual creatures. So it's often something you see whether it's, you know, the notification lighting up on Facebook, or Instagram, or a plate of cookies on the counter, or something like that. And it's that cue that initiates the habit of, you know, clicking on the notification or eating the cookie or so on. The second step is craving. And this is really about how you interpret the queue, you know, like, I'm not talking just about often we use the phrase craving, like, I'm craving a doughnut, or I'm craving a cigarette or something like that. But you can also crave to take any action, you know, like, if you pick your notebook up off the table, in a sense, you wanted to pick it up, you were motivated for it, to do it, you craved that action. So craving is the kind of the motivational force that drives you. And it's really about how you interpret the cue, you know, you can imagine, and this, the craving stage helps explain why two people might have different habits in the same situation. So you say you walk into a room, and there's a pack of cigarettes on the table. And one person who's a smoker sees that, and they think, Oh, I have this craving to smoke I was, you know, I want to pick up a cigarette. And the second person who's never smoked a day in their life looks at it, and doesn't really mean anything, it's just a pack of cigarettes, I don't feel anything, any motivation to act, and they move on. And so the cue is the same there, it's really the craving or the interpretation that changes, then the third step is the response. And that's just the action that you take. Then Then finally, there's the fourth stage, which is the reward. And the reward, it serves a couple purposes. The first one is that it satisfies the craving that you have beforehand, right. So you walk into a kitchen and you see a plate of cookies, and you have this craving this desire to eat one. And when you bite into it, the reward is it satisfies the craving, it resolves the craving that came before the action. And then the second thing that the reward does is it teaches you what to do again in the future. So experiences that are rewarding, that are enjoyable, teach your brain Hey, this felt good. Like let's do this again, next time. And experiences that are have a consequence, rather than a reward are not rewarding, there's usually a little bit of pain or disappointment. And it kind of trains your brain to say, hey, you know, this didn't work out, let's do something differently next time. And this happens in all kinds of ways all day long, even small ones that we don't even think about, like if you are learning to tie your shoes, and you kind of try to fumble around with a knot and it doesn't quite catch and you can't tie them, then that's in a small sense disappointing or there's it's not very rewarding. And so your brain is like, oh, that didn't work next time, I should try a different way of looping this, you know the string around. But eventually you start to stumble on the right way to work or your you know, your parents help you you practice it enough times. And you get it to catch and you get into work. And that feels good. And so then you have closed that loop of Q I see the shoe on my foot craving, I want to tie the shoe response, I mess around with the shoe strings reward, the shoe is now tied, knotted. And pretty soon after doing that a couple 100 times you can tie your shoes without thinking about it. And this is kind of the role that all habits played. They go through these four stages. And the more that you repeat them, the more that you kind of run through that cycle, you begin to automate the actions that you take. And pretty soon you can do these things without thinking about them at all. And habits allow you to free up your attention and energy to focus on other areas of life. Now you can tie your shoes while you're thinking about your to do list for the day or talking to your partner so on. And so that's kind of how those four stages work and how they describe what a habit is.

Jamila Souffrant 19:47

Right? And I love how you break down. This is the framework but once you know that and so let's just say there's something you do want to change or improve. So there's a habit you want to begin that's a good habit or there's a hack But you want to stop that too bad habit. And if you understand like the framework of that particular action or habit that you are wanting to stop or improve, you can then set yourself up for success in achieving that goal for the habit. So for example, like the cue of like, when you want to, like make something better, if you want to improve a good habit or create a good habit, you say that that cue whatever that cue is, you want to make it obvious for you. So for my example, if I wanted to work out more than my cue, will possibly be having my workout clothes on, before I even went to bed, or like that's the first thing I see in the morning, it's obvious that working out is the step versus like not having it out already. Right?

James Clear 20:44

Correct. So for each of those four stages, we can come up with what I call the Four Laws of behavior change. So as you mentioned, for the cue to make it obvious, you want the cues of your good habits to be obvious, attractive, visible, for the craving, you want your habits to be attractive, enjoyable, you know, compelling. For the response, you want to make it easy, you want your habits to be easy, convenient, frictionless, the more convenient they are, the more likely you are to do them. And finally, for the reward, you want your habits to be rewarding and enjoyable and pleasurable. And the more that you're able to do those things, make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy make it satisfying, the more likely you are to stick to habits in the long run. And yeah, in your case, the the example of setting your clothes out, that's a good way to make the habit of, you know, putting your running shoes on or getting out the door or going to the gym more obvious to do if you want to drink more water, you could fill up you know, three or four water bottles at the beginning of the day and set them around your house or your office and obvious locations, so you're more likely to see it. I've heard from people who want to practice their instrument more. And so they put their guitar or their violin or whatever, like right in the middle of their living room so that they see it right away. And make it obvious is really about getting that habit loop started by making the cues of those good habits as easy to see as possible.

Jamila Souffrant 22:09

Right, right. And when you talk about like the opposite side of now that the like the bad habits we have. So for example, someone has a problem with shopping, you know, there's a self control issue with buying certain things, whereas like, they know they pass a store, it's gonna be a problem. It's the same thing with like, going through the framework. And each step, it's like the first law, the queue make it invisible is how you break that habit. So therefore, don't put yourself in a situation where like you see the store or you get the email, that is saying there's a sale, because for you that that's Q is going to set up a trigger of events, that was going to be less likely for you to stop.

James Clear 22:49

Yeah, correct. So for each of those four stages, you can just invert the laws to break bad habits. So rather than make the cues obvious, make them invisible. Rather than make your habit attractive, make it unattractive, make it difficult and said make it easy and make it unsatisfying. And the more that you do those four things, the less likely it becomes that you slide into these bad behaviors. So as you mentioned, you know, unsubscribe from all the emails from different stores that you're buying from, or if you tend to purchase things on Amazon or on UberEATS, or something like that, then delete those apps off your phone. Or if you feel like you're spending too much money on electronics, then don't follow unboxing videos on YouTube, or the latest tech review blogs or those kinds of things. Those are all cues that are prompting those habits and the more that you can reduce exposure to those cues, the more likely it is that you kind of cut the habit off at the source and you don't fall into it as much or you're able to curtail that behavior.

Jamila Souffrant 23:48

And as you're talking, I'm thinking that I believe if anyone's listening to this, everyone wants to save more everyone wants to stop mindless spending and all those things. And they probably know that those are the things they should do. Like not go by the store, not unsubscribe from the email. And yet so many people like don't do it. And so I'm wondering if, you know, for a lot of people, there's this like gap between, there's like a couple of things, there's like what they feel like they should do because everyone else is doing it. So maybe they want to create a good habit, but it's not really a habit that they are aligned with or that they really feel will be a benefit. They're just they don't have a real intense sense of wanting to really do it. Like it's almost like, you know, lots of people who say, Oh, I want to save more money, but then if I look at what they're spending on, it's like, Do you really like want to save more money? It's like, no, they just, it sounds good to say that. So is Is there something that happened? So like, there's so much like good like the framework, the steps are like good and great. But is there like something where it's like even if you start off chasing or wanting the wrong habit or trying to replicate a habit, that's not really something you really want. Like that's just it's not going to work regardless of what you do because you're not motivated intrinsically to make it happen.

James Clear 24:58

Right. This is a good question. So I think I think there are two ways to answer this. So first of all, we're basically talking about the second law. Right now we're talking about whether habits truly attractive to you or not? Are you motivated to do it? Are you just saying that? And I think there there are two issues. So the first is we need to develop a bias toward action. For that to be your default to you know, you have an idea, you're like, Okay, I should unsubscribe from that email, do it right now, don't wait to do it later. And I think that for a lot of people, they just kind of they have this maybe general sense of, Well, that might be nice for me to do someday. And they don't translate that into an action they can take right away. And this is why I like to recommend using what I call the two minute rule. And so basically, you take whatever habit you're trying to build, and you scale it down to something that takes two minutes or less to do so like, do yoga five days a week becomes take out my yoga mat, or, you know, learn guitar becomes play one chord or something like that, you need something that you can do almost immediately. And people have heard things kind of like this before, like, you'll hear people, you know, say like, oh, yeah, take baby steps or start small or things like that. But even when you know that you should start small, it's still really easy to start too big. Like I'll have people say, you know, I want to get in the habit of going for a run each week. But I know I should start small, so I'll only run for 15 minutes. But even that's like way bigger than what I'm talking about. I'm talking about like the habit is you put on your running shoes, and you step out the door. And if you do anything else, if you take a single step, that's just a bonus, the actual habit is get your shoes on and step out the door. And sometimes this sounds silly to people, because they think like, well, you know, clearly the real point is for me to go for a run, I'm not just trying to put my shoes on. But this is a key insight that people often overlook, when it comes to building better habits, which is a habit must be established before it can be improved, right? So you need to make it the standard in your life, give yourself a reason to show up and do it even if it's in a really small way. Before you can make it better before you can optimize it. So I think the point here about you know, people say things are important to them, but they actually don't want it or they don't seem to take a step, I would say scale your habit down to a degree where it's easy for you to do it, where it's like, yeah, of course, you know, there's, there's no reason to not do it, it's so easy. You can't say no, that's kind of a good way to get over that hurdle of, you know, I say I want to do this, but I don't really want to. Now, the second issue is that many of our habits are socially reinforced. And so we a lot of the time, what we're looking for is just to provide a signal to people, you know, like people will say, they'll put up a dating profile. And they'll say, like, you know, I love working out and reading books, when really like, what they want to do is just hang out and watch Netflix. And they're really looking for the signal of, oh, you know, I'm intelligent, like, like to be active rather than what they actually want to do, which is just hang out and chill. And there's nothing wrong with that. But it's important to know what your true motivations are, and to try to align your habits with those. And this also, especially with finance, can be an issue when it comes to how like the people around you influence your habits, you know, like, you may want to save money. But if your friends want to go out to happy hour each week, then it's hard for you to say no to that because you're like, Well, you know, I don't want to lose my friends. And so there's this like social friction between the habit you want to build and what your tribe is motivating you to do. This is why I say in the book, you want to join a group join a tribe where your desired behavior is the normal behavior, because if it's normal in that group, then you're going to want to stick to it in the long run. So all of that to say, I think you're right, sometimes we pick habits that we just aren't motivated to do. And that's just a recipe for failure from the start. But in many cases, you do kind of want to do it. But it either needs to be smaller, you need to like scale it down, use the two minute rule. Or you need to find the right tribe to hang out with so that your desired behaviors, the normal behavior, and you're socially reinforced to stick to the habit rather than having it pull you in the other direction.

Jamila Souffrant 29:16

I love that. I love that because it's so important like that almost changing your reality, finding a new reality where the abnormal what you once thought was abnormal becomes normal. Like it's everyday like, you know, we you save more money, you're you're not just just spending to just spend, you're learning about concepts that will help you you're more just disciplined in life, like if that's the normal of your group, which I always say if you can't find that in your immediate circle, then look for you know, some like resources or look for inspiration in books, online podcasts, like there's so many ways in which you can start to help enforce that. And one of the things as you were talking, I'm thinking, you know, I also feel like a lot of people and you mentioned this in your book, it's just the thought of it. Sometimes you think too big like you mentioned and then thought of failure is very scary. So instead of looking at your immediate next step, you're looking at the step so far ahead and wondering what happens when you feel that way. You know what happens if I do start this, and I can't keep up with this, then I'm going to feel so bad or, you know, I'm not going to feel great. And you mentioned that we should stop like delaying failure and stop trying to figure out our best approach and best step, it's more about just taking the action, taking a step, because we're going to fail or failure is okay. But the quicker you do that, the quicker you move forward, then the better you can readjust and get on track.

James Clear 30:35

Right? I love that, quote, I can't remember who it's from right now. But it's like, I never fail. I only learned I think it's the Nelson Mandela quote. That's really what failure is, there's just feedback so that you can learn. Now, of course, it never feels good in the moment, right? Like the thing that people fail, sometimes failure gets, like glorified people, like, oh, yeah, you got to fail, you got, you know, like, try things, whatever. But what everybody always forgets is, it's, it feels terrible to go through that in the moment. Nobody likes that experience. And so there's very real reason why we avoid it. But this is why one of the core things I talked about in the book is getting 1% better, you don't need to make a radical change, you don't need to like worry about the thing that's 10 steps ahead, or three years down the line, or this big ambitious thing you're working towards it. Ultimately, all you have to do today is find a way to get 1% better, you just need to make some small improvement. And that I think, feels much less threatening, much less intimidating, and much more realistic, impossible, and so focused on the next action, not on the ultimate action.

Jamila Souffrant 31:38

And then that's how we the word of where we are now we write our present self. That's how we get closer to that future self we envision and we admire. So in terms of just in general, now, alright, let's just say someone has a habit, they have these this framework, they're implementing some of these steps. How does one stay consistent? So I think the biggest thing, is that, okay, I can start maybe, you know, just taking up my mat every day, right? And then maybe the next step is to do a setup or a squat, you know, whatever that looks like, as you like, keep inching forward. But in terms of like long journeys to something long scales of improvement, like how do you stay focused and committed? How does one find that when it's so long until the end goal?

James Clear 32:25

Yeah, it's a great question. So it's one of the key things that that you have to consider when building better habits, I'll give you a couple different answers. So the first thing is Tactical. In many cases, the most motivating feeling in the long run is the feeling of progress. And so you want some signal that you're moving forward some feet some way to quantify or see that you're making progress. The simplest way to do this, and I use it myself is just a habit tracker. Now, I say in the book, I have a lot more about measurement tracking in there. But you don't need to track every habit like I'm not, I don't need to track like brushing my teeth and flossing my teeth or tying my shoes or unplugging the toaster after each use. Like there's a lot of habits that once they're built, you can just let them roll. But for a few things, for the important things, it can be really helpful to track them. So like I track my workouts, this last month, I've been tracking if I journal one sentence and read one page each day. And all you do is just put, I have actually created a habit journal. And if you go to James clear.com, and just click on Books, you can find a link to it there. But it's got a habit tracker template in the back. And so basically for each month that has you know, all 3030 or 31 days laid out and you can just put a little X or a checkmark or whatever and each day, but you could also just do it with a calendar, each time that you do the habit you just cross off that that day or whatever. The point there is that it does a few things first, when you it's like a cue. So you look at your tracker, you look at the calendar on the wall or on your desk, and you see oh, you know, I've gone to the pool and swam you know, three days last week like I you know, I got three days in a row. Now I want to you know, make sure I don't break my streak. And it kind of has this like additive effect of motivation where the longer the streak gets, the more compelled you feel to like, keep it going. And then the other thing it does, it feels rewarding in the moment, it just kind of feels good. You know, like I when I write down my workouts, it feels good to close the book on another workout. It's a small thing, but it adds a little bit of satisfaction to the moment. And all of those things signals of progress, visual cues, feeling of feeling of letting it be rewarding and satisfying. That drives you to stick with it in the long run. So that's the first thing it's tactical. The second thing comes back to what we talked about earlier with identity. You know, ultimately, you can incentivize yourself to get started with a habit but ultimately the way that a habit sticks as it becomes part of your identity, it's like you know, I don't really motivate myself to go to the gym anymore. I just go because that's part of who I am now. And you'll hear people say this, you know, across many different areas. Life like I, for example, I don't meditate. But I've heard from other meditators that, you know, once they view themselves as a meditator, someone who does this every day, it's like a vital part of their life, they don't, they're not thinking about it, as much as they are just like, This is who I am, this is what I do. And once you've internalized it to that degree, then it becomes much easier to stick with it in the long run. And the final thing that I'll mention, which reinforces this identity, and comes back to the point that we were just talking about with respect to tribes, is that if you're part of the right group, you have some external reinforcement of this is who we are not just who you are as who we are as a group. And this is what we do. And that can be a very powerful way to get things to stick in the long run. So for example, if you move into a new neighborhood, and you walk outside on Tuesday night, and you see all of your neighbors have their recycling bins out, then you're like, oh, we need to sign up for recycling. This is what people like us to do here, right, there's like the social reinforcement to get you to stick with that habit. Or if you have a job interview, you wear a dress, or a suit and a tie or something nice. Now, there's no reason you have to do that, like you could wear workout clothes, or a bathing suit or something to a job interview. But you don't, because that's not the expectation of the group. So being around people who have the habits you want to have is a great way to get you to stick with them in the long run. Because doing that habit is a signal that you fit in with the group that helps you become part of that or maintain those friendships. And friendship really is the key aspect there. Once you care about the people that are in that group, once you value their opinion, then doing the habit in the long run actually doesn't, it becomes much less of a hassle, it's actually like kind of enjoyable, because you want to do the things that your friends are doing. So those are some different ways to get habits to stick in the long run.

Jamila Souffrant 36:57

Right. And it's almost like the power of influence, like you say groupthink, like all these things that could be used for bad and not so great things can be powerful and use for good if you recognize it. And you know, it's almost like you then choose like how to implement like these, make it a positive in your life.

James Clear 37:15

This is true for almost all habits, that habits can be a double edged sword, you know, they can work for you or against you like you can put your guitar in the middle of the living room and practice the you know, building that skill more frequently. Or you can have your video game controller in the middle of the living room. And you can you know, fall into the habit of playing video games all the time. And I don't want to bash on video games, because that's totally fine if you if you enjoy it and want to spend a little time on it. But my point is just that the principles stand whether the habit is good or bad. And the one of the points of the book is to help you understand how behavior is shaped so that you can use those tools for your benefit rather than to your detriment.

Jamila Souffrant 37:54

Right, I view this all as like this tool, this this awareness that you can create, when it comes to your own behaviors and being honest with yourself and your habits. It's like a powerful tool that once you understand it, you can use for good or bad. Or if you continue to not want to maybe like delve into that realm of your life yet, you're just, it's not something you're ready to take on, you're comfortable things are not bad enough where you want to actually make the change. And, you know, I do think at some point, it does become a place where people hit rock bottom, whether that's with their finances, or health or career, whatever that is, like sometimes people unfortunately have to hit that point for them to make the change. But I'm hoping that for some people, it doesn't have to get that bad or that far you you can start to pivot and implement some of the things we're talking about here in general in your life, so that you can start seeing the changes you want to see.

James Clear 38:46

Well, at some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it. Right, it's like it's more painful to stay in your current state than it is to take the action to get out of it. And that's honestly true for like every action, you know, like if you have a book sitting on your desk that you haven't read, and you're like, Oh, I kind of want to read that. But you just don't get around to it. And then at some point, the pain of not reading it the curiosity of wanting to know what's in it or being like, Okay, I need to like actually pick this book up and look at it becomes greater than the pain of procrastinating and you pick it up and read a page. And I think one way to kind of short circuit that to speed that process up, rather than wait until you hit rock rock bottom, as you said, is to understand and conceptualize the long term impacts of that, like I was. So I really enjoyed McDonald's french fries. And every now and then I'll like drive by one and be like, you know, I need to go in there and get one. Well, the last place that I was living. I had a McDonald's, maybe three or four minutes from my house. And so I would get off the highway and if I took a right the house was like three minutes away and McDonald's was right there. And I got into this pattern after a little while where I would get off the highway and every single time I was going in there and I had a conversation with myself one day where I turned off and I was like, am I going to do this every single time I passed this place? Like, is this going to be my new reality? I mean, how many of these am I going to eat. And so I just started turning left, I got off, and it would take five minutes instead of three minutes or whatever to get home. But I had to change the pattern. And the only reason that I was able to do that is because I was I didn't hit rock bottom, I didn't add like, you know, 100 pounds to my waistline or something. But I was able to map out in my mind what this was gonna look like if I didn't stop. And so I think that you can do that in small ways like I did there. Or in big ways, if you're thinking about your spending habits, and what that means for retirement or college savings, or whatever. And if you can kind of take those outcomes, 20 years down the line, and pull them into your mind in the present moment, it becomes a little more compelling to take the right action, rather than waiting until things get too late.

Jamila Souffrant 40:53

Right. And you know, it's so funny this morning. So a friend gifted me this book by John T. Maxwell was the Maxwell daily reader where every day you read something, help you with leadership, and today's was discernment. And so it he defines discernment basically as your ability to look at intuition as well as rational thought. And so it's like a balance of the two in your process and decision making. And just as you said, with the McDonald's, like your, your intuition or your gut is like, I want that, like, I want those fries, or, you know, for me, it's like whatever, like I want to go to sleep rather than read whatever it is right that you can think of, but then your rational thought, which is what you did, it's like, almost mapped out. But rationally, if I do this, if I given this time, you know, this is what this could be. And so I think a lot of people if they approach some of the things that they think they want immediately, or that they must have or they deserve, you know, all those those these things that constantly come up in our day to day lives, if they can make the discernment to say, okay, yeah, sometimes you can have it like sometimes go ahead, get those fries, right, like, you know, I can, whatever, how have a glass of wine or have a drink instead of doing the work like that's okay. Sometimes because I think it's moderation is okay. But to also you have to layer that on with that intellect and with that knowledge to know that okay, but at some point, this is not going to be beneficial long term for what I really want.

James Clear 42:14

Yeah, it's fine as a, as an indulgence, occasionally, it's bad as a habit. Right. So like, you're like trying to figure out how to distinguish, like, the occasional the occasional luxury from the daily habit. And, you know, generally speaking, the vices and little, you know, things that you enjoy, like that great, and it's fun isn't as a luxury, but they can be really negative as as a daily habit.

Jamila Souffrant 42:40

Right, right. So James, I want you to let people know where they could find out more about you, by the way, I received your like, annual review. And I was like, you know, this is like some great stuff. So I want people to like to get on your email list and get the book. So where can they find all that?

James Clear 42:54

Oh, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. So the best way to see my writing or, you know, check out more of what I'm up to just go to James clear.com. If you click on Articles, you can just poke around by topic, you can see the annual reviews and other things I have like an organized by, you know, habits, creativity, productivity, whatever, just check out what's interesting to you. If you'd like to check out the book, then it's called atomic habits and easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones. And you can just find that at atomic habits.com. And on that page, I have a couple bonus resources as well. There's like a, there's a guide on how to apply the ideas to business a guide on how to apply the ideas to parenting, a habit tracker template, which we talked about a few minutes ago, and a couple other things. But anyway, you can find all of that at atomic habits.com.

Jamila Souffrant 43:43

All right, James. So I'm actually looking forward to implementing some of this in my life this year and beyond. So thank you so much again, I know my journey as well enjoy this. All right, I hope you really enjoyed that episode with James clear. Don't forget, I always love seeing that you're listening and getting good takeaways from the episodes. So you can share that with me on social media. Or you can join my email list or just email me but on social media is like the best place especially Instagram. That's where you're hanging out the most. If you tag me take a screenshot even tag James clear like there was something that stood out for you or that you're going to do differently, or that inspired you about this episode? Take a screenshot of it. Tag me tag at James clear my Instagram is at journey to launch and let me know. And quite honestly the best thing you can do is if this didn't inspire you is to share it with a family member or friend. Send them the link to this episode. Don't forget you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journey to launch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journey to launch.com/jumpstart. Alright, see you next week. If you want to support me and have podcasts and love the free content and information that you get here. Here are four ways that you can support me in the show. One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen. Whether that's Apple podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you're not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this in Apple podcasts, rate review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm at journey to launch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love love, love interacting with journey are there. Three support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you, sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So show them some love for supporting your girl for and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker so that we can spread the message of Journey to launch. Alright, that's it until next week, keep on journeying journeyers

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

If you are wondering how it is that you can create better habits in your life and get rid of the habits that you know are holding you back, you are going to love my chat with bestselling author James Clear on his latest book Atomic Habits. The book is a guide on how to change your habits and get 1% better every day.

In this episode we discussed:

  • The importance of habits in our lives
  • How meaningful changes yield radical results
  • Why we should focus on identity-based habits vs outcome based habits
  • The framework of Cur, Craving, Response & Reward and how to use it to create good habits and break bad habits
  • Why it’s important to take small steps toward building better habits plus so much more
I'm listening to episode 282 of the Journey to Launch Podcast, Atomic Habits: How Tiny Changes Spark Remarkable Results w/ James Clear Share on X

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