Break or build: Choosing habits well this February

Break or build: Choosing habits well this February

Breaking a bad habit (or a few) is one of the most effective ways to completely transform your life. But even the most intelligent and capable people can struggle with habits, acting against their own best interests.

Knowing that up to 43% of our daily actions are habits, it’s no surprise that there has evolved a “habit industry” of sorts. Millions of books, hundreds of habit tracking applications—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With our productivity-focused culture, it’s easy to reduce habits to gameified behaviours where we continually optimise our outputs and control our attention. But the universal desire to understand, learn, and hack our habits is to ultimately an exercise of personal autonomy—simply put, we just want to spend more of our time doing things we choose to do.

A cursory search of Habits online yields endless resources with big claims — but the fact remains there’s no miracle cure or ‘hack’. In that vein, we hope the ‘cool stuff’ for this month provides a new point of view, insight, & food for thought on a topic so wide.

Revisiting and reconsidering our Key Questions

In addition to this month's key questions from our 2021 Planners, we want to raise some thoughtful questions and prompts that will help prime you to make meaningful progress:

  • What 3 habits can I break/develop that will most improve my life?
  • What are the biggest barriers to implementing these changes?
  • What about my environment and surroundings make this habit hard to break/develop?
  • What will things be like a year from now if I break/develop this habit?
  • What do my best habits say about me? What about my worst habits?

A lot of the time, habits are automatic behaviours. Sometimes so automatic we don't understand why we are doing them. A closer inspection may lead you to some deeper insights about yourself.

Karst Stone Paper

Some things to ponder from our team

For those who don’t get enough sleep, going to bed earlier seems simultaneously the easiest but also most impossible habit to develop — an almost-immediate upside, but also a more immediate and looming sense that there’s possibilities we’re missing out on. For those who can relate, forget prescriptive “How to go to bed earlier in 3 easy steps” type listicals, this essay from the School of Life on “How to Go to Bed Earlier” might just inspire you to retreat into the covers.

Another gem from the School of Life, this article on “Taming a Pitiless Inner Critic” looks at the effect of conscience on our inner happiness. While there is a universal desire for self-improvement, many of us also struggle with being our own worst enemy, reverting to self-critical patterns of thought that are a bad habit in their own right. This is your reminder to be gentle to yourself.

That ability to think about something in the back of your mind? You’ll definitely feel it while reading this article from Growth Habits Lab. No doubt you’ll be reminded of people & surroundings that trigger your automatic behaviours - the more you notice the more it becomes clear: “There’s just one way to radically change your behaviour: radically change your environment.”

With the hashtagification and gamification of the “habit” industry, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the human obsession to study what humans repeatedly do has existed for thousands of years. If the contemporary “productivity-at-all-costs” literature is not speaking to you, perhaps answers for you lie in older texts. Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen explores the moral shortcoming of this new habits industry in her essay, “The lost hope of self-help”.

Any resources that inspire you? Share them with us on Instagram!