90: Habits > Goals

Congratulations on the anniversary! You two are doing some good work. Glad it’s working out.

It’s funny seeing your show next to MHC’s “Focus on This,” which also launched this year and also doesn’t quite do what anyone else is doing. The two shows serve the same ultimate end but help with different problems along the way (and each have their own brand of host humor and interviews.) I find the pairing highly complementary.

I really enjoyed this episode. I just finished my long year end Solstice review. The 3 main items I decided to focus on for the next season include development of 2 systems and 1 habit.

I had a major AhHa! moment on the discussion of a goal (“Finish a running event.”) vs a habit (“Regular Exercise”) The let down when you reach a goal and then slide back explains so much about why I have a hard time creating SMART goals. I reach them and then go Now What?!? I am much more interested in creating good systems and good habits.

Lots to unpack in this episode, I suspect I’ll re-listen to it eventually since I don’t process audio info very well.

Which brings up a question, is there an easy way to get a written transcript of each podcast? I read much faster and retain what I read whereas stuff I hear has to be repeated over and over for me to get it.

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Larry David, on The Late Show, on developing good habits in lieu of other kinds of resolutions :joy:

All the options for transcripts I know of are pretty expensive unfortunately. But I love the idea!

Not a real user of Siri here, but is there some way to have siri process the recording as a note and then edit it?

I don’t know - anyone on here have any ideas? :wink:

Hey Mike - I have a few affordable options, including a transcriber I use who’s about half the price of rev.com, if you’re interested!

I’m interested, but I don’t ever see us selling the transcripts, so my preferred price would be free :wink: Basically I don’t want to lose money by offering them.

Thanks for another heart-felt, thought-provoking episode!

For me, too, that daily PM planning session, is THE key to staying on the rails.

And yet, being later in the day, it is vulnerable in all the ways David describes.

I think it may be helpful to acknowledge that some habits are easier to automate than others, and that at least a few of the most valuable habits may never be fully automatic, though they can get easier and more rewarding over time.

Mike’s suggestion, which David has already implemented, about having a stripped-down version of his routine handy for emergencies I think is a good one.

When even the stripped-down version gets skipped–at least in my own case–it’s usually not so much due to an absolute lack of time, but because I’m drifting or reacting to some provocation, and for whatever reason, even with prompts present, not able to summon the mental energy to step back and be mindful about what is happening. Almost always, the effects of those lapses bleed into the next day. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about catching myself earlier. It’s a little like meditation, actually, but on a different scale.

What helps?

-Realizing that consistently stopping to plan is not as easy as it sounds. This has come home to me over the years as I’ve been working with my (now) 13-year-old son. I see how mentally taxing facing unwelcome facts (such as new homework assignments) and making decisions involving tradeoffs (which activity?) truly are.

-Continually aiming to strip the routine down to bare essentials so that it is not too burdensome. Shawn Blanc has written about leaving himself a brief handwritten writing prompt laid out on his computer as a key part of his own shutdown routine. That single action may be the most effective thing he does (given his job).
Ask, if I can do only do one thing for “tomorrow me,” what is it?

-Starting early. I sometimes start making notes about what needs to happen the next day by late morning–very often by mid-afternoon. For weekly review, the routine that has stuck is starting the process on Thursday by previewing the weekend and week ahead. I usually finish at least a cursory review by Friday, but can do some bits on the weekend as well. If I wait until the weekend to start, it doesn’t work because I’ve got family around and they are the priority.

I’d be interested to know what works for others. I’m sure we all want David to keep doing all the great things he’s doing, so we all have an interest in figuring this out!

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I got a chance to go back and re-listen to bits of this episode. that combined with this comment

got me to thinking a bit more.

I keep hearing this over and over again from many sources. It’s almost like religious dogma that planning the day the night before is critical to success. I’ve struggled to implement anything resembling that for decades. Earlier this year, actually 19 June, I flipped it. Instead of struggling and being unable to journal or plan in any consistent fashion the night before I spend 15-30 minutes in the morning reviewing what I did the day before, journaling and a quick paragraph or so on what is planned for today. Sometimes I write more and sometimes less but since I flipped it to morning I’ve only missed a couple of days in October when I was traveling. I ended up writing at odd times during those days so I did get my journaling and planning done each day but just not first thing in the am.

Since I wait until the morning I’ve had the night to think and reflect on what I did and often have much better plans on how to tackle the current days’ problems. I usually try to fall asleep thinking of a problem or issue or project that I am stuck on. I am actively enlisting my subconscious and dream state to generate ideas and solutions. I always wake up about 5 hours after I go to bed and usually spend an hour or so either thinking about the issue or more often scribbling down ideas and solutions to that and other problems or issues on my plate. Mind cleared and ideas written down, I can then get back to sleep until morning. When I do get up one of my first tasks while I’m having my daily coffee but after checking weather and news is to process my nighttime notes into my system. Then I do my daily journaling/reflection/planning habit. I found it’s much more effective, results in better clarity and gives me a true sense of accomplishment when I do it in the morning.

If you are a person struggling to implement this sort of daily reflection and planning in the evening, just as an experiment, I’d suggest moving that to a first thing in the morning task and see if that helps. I know it did for me.


Question for @mikeschmitz:

In this episode you mention that the standard 21-day “average” for forming habits isn’t correct. You also mention 66 days and then suggest that 197 days is the more accurate number. Do you have a citation for that?

I remember reading the 21 day number in both “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy and “Pyscho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, but I’ve never heard of 66 or 197 days.

I totally believe that 21 (or even 66) days is far too fast to form a stable habit, but I’d love to read the source material for the 197 day estimate!

I can’t find the research report where I found the 197 day number anymore (if I do, I’ll share it here). I remember coming across it while working on something for AE back in the day. But James Clear does a have a great post about it where he says it takes as many as 254 days: https://jamesclear.com/new-habit

Unfortunately, there’s lots of “conflicting” studies and the real answer depends on many factors. But I believe the higher end is probably the more accurate estimate. James Clear does a great job of breaking it down though (much better than I did!)

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Thanks for sharing this! I think experimenting is a great idea and it is always so interesting to hear what works for different people. My migration was in the opposite direction from yours. I started in the mornings, thinking that since I was a morning person, that was obviously the time I should do it, but I would tend to get bogged down and drift off point. I don’t remember what prompted me to switch to afternoons, but I discovered that sketching out next steps when the day’s activities were still fresh in my mind was far more efficient–for me–though I do still briefly review plans in the mornings and often write down new ideas that have occurred then, too. Maybe we meet in the middle :slight_smile:

Good episode fellas. I listened twice, the second time when I could Focus a little better (see what I did there?) and really pay attention. Ever since reading Scott Adams book years ago did I realize how worthless goal setting is without the action(s) that make it happen. Good reminder!

Personally I haven’t had any experience with it but I know at our church some people tried the free YouTube Transcript Generator as we are getting similar requests for a transcription of the services. Will post if I can get any details on their experience. In the meantime I found this article.

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Another valuable episode - motivated by this, I have added a repeated Daily Shutdown slot to my calendar. Although I have a fixed set of tasks that I like to do at the end of the day on Things as part of the shutdown, making it “official” on the calendar has been helpful.

I was going to mention YouTube transcription also. Two more options:

  1. if you use Zoom instead of Skype and use the cloud recording feature, it will generate a transcript (time-stamped).

  2. I’ve been playing with an app called Otter that does a pretty good job. There’s a free plan that might suffice for transcribing podcasts.