Living to Learn
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Living to Learn

Habit Hacking 101

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Habit hacking is a tried and true way to help you adopt strategies that make Becoming the CEO of You a much more enjoyable process. While creating powerful habits can take considerable time and focus, the hacks we’ll cover today are so easy you almost don’t even have to think about them.

Yesterday, we talked about habit stacking which is the process of inserting a new habit you desire to adopt into well-established habits that you already do every day. Simple, easy, and only the beginning my dear!

The habits we’ll discuss today are all along that same vein — small habits with small time and mental commitments and big results.

The 1% Habit

The 1% Habit is a strategy that James Clear has as the foundation habit in his book Atomic Habits. To put this habit into play, identify 1–2 areas (or more) that you want to improve and pick one itsy-bitsy step you can take to improve. Want to be able to do 50 pushups in a row, then start with one every hour or every time you stand up (or both). What this does is build the habit of showing up and keeping you from becoming overwhelmed.

What’s hard about this habit? Trying not to go the other 99%. But wait, didn’t you want to get to 100%? Yes, as in “I want to do this habit 100% of the time.” No, because this is not a goal that we do once and then are done. It’s a habit that we are trying to do — Every. Single. Day.

Be the Experiment

This hack is for your mind and helps you reframe how you approach your habits. We all want to be successful at what we do and when we don’t succeed, we can feel like a failure. This negative scorekeeping does us absolutely no good.

Changing your mindset to think of your life and your habits as an experiment does a few things for you:

  1. It keeps you from keeping score. Nothing is worse than feeling like we keep getting further and further behind. When you are experimenting, you are identifying ways that don’t work for you, nothing more.
  2. It inspires curiosity. When your experimenting, you are constantly thinking about why something did or didn’t work, what factors that were at play, and what might have felt wrong.
  3. It creates new opportunities. When you are curious, you are also thinking about how you need to change your approach. The mindset is no longer “well I failed. I guess I will just give up.”

Pavlov Yourself

I will probably come up with a better name at some point, but this hits the mark with me so I haven’t spent too much time thinking about a new name. This habit hack focuses on a notice-do strategy. I set up reminders on my phone and when I see that notification, my only choice is to do whatever activity is associated with the notification.

I recommend making the “do” habit less than 15 minutes when you are getting started. I put this hack into play after I found myself thinking doing my workout over and over and over, but never actually doing it. Now, when my notification/alarm goes off, I do the Seven-minute Workout and then go back to whatever I was doing. (I can procrastinate with the best of them as well as over plan, so this effectively knocks out two bad behaviors with one approach.)

Progress over Perfection

I am a Type-A personality if there ever was one and a people-pleaser to boot. The combined impact was…well, that there was no impact. I spent so much time in my own head, in my own notes, and in my own files that I wasn’t ever getting to the point of publishing anything. I wanted everything to be fully formulated, without any imperfections that I rarely got anything out into the world and what I did get out into the big scary world? A very boring and dry piece of work.

Embracing that progress is better than perfection has allowed me to embrace my Smashing Keys challenge and just write. Write about what I love, about what strikes my fancy, makes me break out my soapbox, or that I find interesting. Fifty-two days in and I’ve got a writing habit that I am proud of and ideas that keep flowing. Not a bad way to get started!

If This, Then That

Like habit stacking, you are following one action with another. What is different about this one is that you are adding what you want to become a habit behind any activity rather than just behind an ingrained habit you already possess. For example, whenever a meeting finishes I spend five minutes walking up and down the stairs in my house. It is amazing how many steps you can cover in five minutes.

If this, then that is a great strategy for events that happen all the time but without any consistency. Take a bathroom break? Drink another 8 ounces of water. Dog needs out? Stretch for five minutes.

Make it Visible

Want to adopt better eating habits or be sure to get outside for that walk? Make what you want to do highly visible. Put healthy foods at eye level in your fridge. Have your workout clothes or shoes on the corner of your desk. Want to get back to a certain weight? Hang your goal pants (or a picture of them) where you see them all the time — your locked screen on your phone, a picture hanging on your bulletin board — you get the idea.

If you’re new here…

We are on a journey to helping you Become the CEO of You so that you can become the best version of yourself. Over the course of the month, we’ll cover knowing yourself, creating goals, adopting mindsets, embracing habits, and practicing self-care. You can find all the posts in our publication Living to Learn. You can also find my random musings on my personal page here.



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Michelle Webb

Michelle Webb

I write about strategies that help you become the CEO of you so that you can become the best version of yourself and create a meaningful life.