I think habits start with a genuine hobby. Not what a billionaire does, a book prescribes or what your boss tells you to do.
Everyone is obsessed with building new habits and new systems. Waking up at 5 am, fasting, answering email once a day, etc.. There are countless books written by people on the x number of habits to be successful, effective etc…
The large number of such books that exist and continue to get pumped out makes me think people are searching for some kind of ultimate habit list to take care of them for the rest of their life. The proverbial “get rich quick” laziness.
Instead of looking to be told what habits to have, I think the true problem persists in the ability to make anything into a true habit. Something so integrated into your system that its second nature. Something that will be done for years and years.. hopefully, decades (if it makes sense to). Some habits need not be continued and should be killed off but that may be a thought for another day.
I started thinking about the things I do. The habits in my system and what got me started down the path of adding all these elements into my life. Why and where does the obsession to start new habits and persist on with existing ones come from?
I started asking myself: Why do I fast? Why do I insist on waking up early, getting enough sleep, why do I ruthlessly create free time in my calendar, why do I read every day, why do I train 6x a week at the gym?
What about things that haven’t become habits? Or things that I don’t necessarily do every day but periodically? Are there even a top 3, 5 or 10 list of habits I have?
Now, some just seem foolish to not do given the facts. Like sleep. I think we have enough evidence that it’s the smart thing to get enough sleep to be effective at what we do. But human irrationality has been proven time and time again. Even in the face of facts, people will object. I personally know of smokers who reject the health issues of smoking with a common argument that scientific evidence.. even fact can be disproved.
So I thought, why do I continue to create new habits? Why do I think about updating them and continuing to develop them as well? All for what purpose?
Three Anchors (H.W.W).
What I’ve concluded on is that it’s tied to the desires to be healthier, wealthier and wiser.
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” — Benjamin Franklin
This has been a cornerstone principle of everything I do and this has led to the hobbies I created. Focusing on building a hobby (i.e. project, venture, passion whatever your word is) that allows me to be healthy, wealthy and wise.
If Ben Franklin isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe this will work for you:
“Find three hobbies: one that makes you money, one that makes you fit and one that makes you smarter” — Naval Ravikant
In the pursuit of all three, I’ve developed hobbies. They’ve become the anchor to tack on a bunch of habits to over time.
My healthy habit is powerlifting. This love for getting stronger. So that started with going to train 3x a week. Then it became 4x a week. Then it became 6x when I started adding mobility and cardio days because I wanted to be a stronger lifter and that meant doing more than just lifting heavy things (surprise). That led to continuously experimenting with diets like no fast food for years, I haven’t ordered pop at a restaurant in 10+ years, spending time to read white papers on fasting and surpassing day 380 of my intermittent fasting log. The list of habits I’ve enforced on my life as a result of this core anchor habit is endless. All in the name of becoming a stronger person.
Same can be said about my hobby to be wealthy. It started with wanting to just do something that put me at the center of human interaction. This led to business, then accounting. Value investing became the big focus for a good portion of early adulthood and everything I did from reading, waking up early, sleeping better, were all tied to wanting to become a better investor. Now, this hobby has evolved to my own entrepreneurial journey of combining people, media and investing.
The hobby for getting wiser is just learning every day. The fact that I don’t listen to music outside rare occasions and only listen to podcasts. The fact that i read a book every 2 weeks. it’s just a continued emphasis on learning every day. this teaches me how to structure time and how to create space in my mind and life to allow for better learning as well. How I enforce certain reading habits so that I can better and faster.
Many times, habits will crossover and benefit other hobbies. Sometimes it’s chance but most times it becomes to be part of the design since who wouldn’t want to parallel process everything?
Find Hobbies. Habits Will Come.
This got me thinking that people shouldn’t be so obsessed with doing a habit. Trying to read every day or wake up early etc.. All that will be meaningless without tying it back to something they love doing. Habits are mere systematic inputs to let you do something you love longer, and do it better.
With that, I believe the most important step would be to identify the hobbies you truly like. Something you genuinely enjoy. Only one of them (the wealthy one) need to make you money. The other two (healthy and wise) will at least help with your growth as a human.
If you have existing ones, then you can focus on them and they will translate over. I commonly tell people powerlifting got me my start as an accountant and looking for a career that had all the attributes to powerlifting got me into investing. I fell in love with investing and that got me into building a habit of reading to become wiser every day. As I learned more, it became obvious my love for investing could be applied to other areas outside of directly working for a hedge fund. Hence, hobbies will evolve.
Experiment with different hobbies and with those you will start wanting to develop habits. Because you want to get better at things you like doing. People are naturally habitual creatures and we naturally like doing things we enjoy and we enjoy things we are good at. It’s a continuous cycle of wanting to do more of what we like, getting better and enjoying it more.
So then maybe the focus isn’t habits but hobbies. Without hobbies, habits alone may have no meaning.