Plus One Minus One: A Minimalist Approach to Habits

Habits. They’re great when they serve us (brushing teeth, taking a shower, exercising), but not so great when they don’t (smoking, eating badly, watching too much TV). Most people think you need willpower to let go of old habits or install new ones. But there’s more to it than that.

How Willpower Works

First, let’s look at how willpower works. It turns out willpower isn’t an infinite resource that some people have and others don’t. (There’s no willpower lottery.) According to James Clear, your willpower is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more fatigued it gets.

This is why, when you’ve had a decision-heavy day at the office, you invariably end up on the couch after work instead of going to the gym like you planned. When your brain is tired of making decisions it’ll always opt for the path of least resistance.

James has a neat trick for sidestepping the poor choices that result from decision fatigue. He recommends planning your daily decisions the night before to avoid making the kind of mundane decisions that drain your willpower.

Decide what you’re going to wear, what you’ll eat for breakfast, whether you’ll buy lunch or pack your own and so on. As he says, there will always be things that you can’t plan for, but try as far as possible to make as many decisions as possible ahead of time.

By doing this, you’ll have plenty of willpower in the tank for the decisions that count, like going to gym when you said you would or cooking a healthy meal at home instead of stopping for take-out on the way home.

One Habit at a Time

We humans are famous for our all or nothing approach to life. We party like crazy until December 31st and then decide we’re going to stop smoking, quit eating junk food and give up sugar the very next day. Not surprisingly, we’re usually back to our old ways before the week is out.

The Plus One Minus One Approach

Brian Johnson —Philosopher and CEO of Optimize.me— has some great advice when it comes to adopting new habits and letting go of the ones that no longer serve you.

Rather than the above ‘recipe for failure’ approach, Brian recommends picking just one keystone habit you’d like to adopt and one you’d like to let go of. What one thing, if you master it, will have the greatest positive effect on your life?

If health is an issue, for example, it could be committing to a daily yoga practice and quitting smoking. If it’s your relationship, maybe it’s not checking your smartphone in bed and actually cooking when it’s your turn to make dinner.

habits that can change your life

How to Create Habits that Can Change Your Life

Once you’ve identified the habits you plan to work on, take a look at Brian Johnson’s Top 10 big ideas for creating habits that can change your life.

From using your willpower wisely and focusing on the fundamentals to knowing your why and making it really, really easy, he has some excellent advice on how to ace your habit goals.

My personal fave is to go all in. Make a 100% commitment to your goal, because as Brian says, 99% is a bitch, but 100% is a breeze.

 

67 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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KimJ M
KimJ ManyIssues4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks.

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks.

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Jerome S
Jerome S6 months ago

thanks.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks for sharing

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