I recently finished one of my new favorite books, Atomic Habits by James Clear. I love personal development books - especially ones about habits or productivity! Sometimes I find authors of these types of books difficult to relate to, though, because some are too academic and others a bit pretentious. In my opinion, James Clear was just the right type of author to write this type of book - he was relatable yet knowledgeable and wrote in layman's terms with just enough science thrown in!
The book focused on how to start and continue good habits and how to stop and avoid bad habits. Atomic Habits is laid out in a very organized fashion with a summary and actionable items listed at the end of each chapter. His suggestions were backed up with examples and were small enough to realistically implement.
My biggest takeaways from the book were that people who are most successful about forming and maintaining good habits consider not the outcome of the habit (losing weight) so much as the system for achieving that outcome (daily exercise), and those who were most successful focused on the identity displayed (being a healthy person.) Just this one simple point helped me form some new habits almost immediately! I've been asking myself "What would a healthy person do?" when a choice is presented to me. I've taken the stairs more often, chosen the healthier food option, and exercised more since I read this part of the book!
Another important bit of wisdom I gleaned from Atomic Habits, was that habits can be super duper small, and actually the smaller the better and the easier to stick with. For example, my morning habit is putting on my workout clothes. That's it. I tell myself all I have to do is put on the workout clothes and then if I don't want to exercise, I don't have to. Well, you know what happens, right? I'm out of bed and have the workout clothes on, so I might as well exercise.
If you couple super duper small habits with what James Clear calls habit stacking, you are set up for habit success! Clear explains the idea, "No behavior happens in isolation. Each action becomes a cue that triggers the next behavior. The habit stacking formula is: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].” Habit stacking increases the likelihood that you'll stick with a habit by stacking your new behavior on top of an old one."
Habit Identity: Being a healthy person
The book suggests making good habits easy and convenient and making bad habits difficult and inconvenient is a kind of shortcut to living the kind of life you want to. If you want to get up and exercise everyday, storing your workout clothes in an easy to reach location makes it more likely you'll actually exercise, because it's convenient. If you want to eat more veggies, cleaning and cutting a variety of fresh vegetables at the betting of the week will make it easy for you to grab them for a snack. On the flip side, if sweets are your nemesis, ridding them from your pantry or at least putting them way up high in the back of a hard to reach cabinet will make it difficult and inconvenient to have as a snack. It's been kind of fun thinking about how to make good habits more convenient and bad habits more difficult!
There's so much more good stuff in this book, you've got to read it yourself! I'll be giving away one copy to a lucky reader. There are several ways to get entered to win (do all for more entries!)
If you'd like to just buy your own copy now, Amazon delivers!
Clear, James. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Penguin Random House LLC, 2018.
Over the years, I’ve broken many New Year’s Resolutions by mid-February. There are also many resolutions I've kept, and most of those have all had something in common - they weren’t centered on me, but instead were focused on others. Once I began to make some of my annual resolutions externally focused, I was able to create habits rather than just a temporary routine.
An example of an externally focused goal was the resolution to stop thinking so hard about if I should help someone. I decided that if the opportunity presented itself, and I had the ability or means to help someone, I would just do it instead of mulling it over and delaying a decision. Though this was initially focused on others, the benefit to me was great as well - I wasted less time overthinking and learned to confident in my decision making skills.
I’ve also made goals about investing in relationships, and though that benefits me as well, I’m more likely to keep up with it because I feel like I’m letting someone else down if I don’t follow through. Sometimes it’s easier to keep promises to others than it is yourself.
In Gretchen Rubin's book, The Four Tendencies, she explains that everyone responds to expectations differently. She identified four main personality types based on how they respond to inner and outer expectations. Upholders can easily meet outer and inner expectations; Obligers have trouble meeting inner expectations but thrive with outer expectation; Questioners need to ask questions to help make sense out of outer expectations, thus turning them into inner expectations; and Rebels don’t respond to inner or outer expectation - they kind of do what they want when they want. Take the quiz to see what your primary tendency is.
Even if your goal is 100% about you, outward expectations can still help you be successful if you find an accountability partner or join an accountability group. Research shows an increased chance for success when you announce your goal and report on progress regularly. It’s a little harder to let others down than it is to let yourself down - that’s unfortunate, but often true.
But what about a goal that is so private that you don’t want to share it with anyone? Try thinking about your “future self.” This allows you to look from the outside in and think of your future self as almost a different person. You can make a promise to her that you don’t want to break. I love the concept of the future self for goal setting but also for short term motivation. For example we all know it makes sense to prepare the night before to make your mornings go more smoothly, but yet many of us don’t do the prep work regularly. Try thinking about what you owe your future self and how she will feel when you make preparations that will benefit her. This can be for things as insignificant as peeling your orange at home instead of putting whole orange in your lunch bag. Think, “Future me will be so happy she doesn’t have to make a mess peeling this orange at her desk tomorrow when she’s hungry for a snack, and it will help her eat healthier too!”
The future self concept gets really, really interesting even beyond the ways we can motivate ourselves in the short term. Harvard psychologist, Dan Gilbert, explains in his TED talk the difference between the ease of remembering and the difficulty of imagining. Most of us can remember who we were but it’s harder to imagine who we are going to be in the future. Gilbert says, “Then we mistakenly think that because it’s hard to imagine, it’s not likely to happen.” You’ve heard the phrase, ‘I can’t imagine that’ and usually this is because of the poor imagination of the person saying it, not the unlikelihood that it will actually happen. That excites me - my future truly can be beyond my imagination!
Whether you become accountable to your future self, to your best friend, or to a group of strangers, that accountability will help you create a long term promise that will form your behavior and decisions in the present and the future - and the beauty is the past doesn’t have to be a limiting factor. Goals could be in the form of an educational or professional pursuit, a healthy lifestyle, learning a new skill or hobby, or even focusing on developing or improving a relationship. It might be time to rethink this year's resolutions and determine how to make them outwardly focused - even if that focus is yourself in the future!
Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash
Rubin, Gretchen. The Four Tendencies. Random House USA, 2018.
Wissman, Barrett. “An Accountability Partner Makes You Vastly More Likely to Succeed.” Entrepreneur, 20 Mar. 2018, www.entrepreneur.com/article/310062.
Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash
Gilbert, Dan. “The Psychology of Your Future Self.” TED, Mar. 2014, www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_the_psychology_of_your_future_self.
Today is My Life In Order's two year anniversary! It's hard to believe that I've been writing for so long. A year ago I published "One Year of My Life In Order" which was pretty exciting, but this year I've got something even bigger to celebrate!
Over the past few weeks, I've been working on my 6 week sprint, and it's culminated in a product I'm very proud of — my e-book, Get Organized Head First!
Get Organized Head First is a book about changing your mindset to help you get organized and be more productive. There are also two practical projects to help you dive into organizing plus lots of bonus content! Here's a sneak peak into what you can expect in the book:
Introduction: My "Before" Story
Chapter 1: A Life In Order
Chapter 2: A Lego® Lesson
Chapter 3: What T-Shirts Teach
Chapter 4: You're In Charge
Chapter 5: Help Me!
Chapter 6: Order in Real Life
Chapter 7: Organize Your Home
Chapter 8: Organize Your Head
Chapter 9: Rewrite Your Story
The book is on sale now, and anyone who takes the time to read this full post will get to use this coupon code to get the book for just $4! Use code: BLOG at checkout.
Get Organized Head First E-Book
We've all had those days where everything seems to go wrong and you end up feeling overwhelmed and out of control. What if you could change those feelings and regain control of your life? You can! In this e-book you will start to understand what it means to get your life in order and learn some simple strategies to get more organized and be productive in your real life!
On a whim, back before I'd even had the courage to publish my first blog post, I applied to be part of a book launch team for a new productivity book from the founder of the task management software I use, Nozbe. I was thrilled when I was selected as one of approximately 100 people worldwide who would have the opportunity to review and offer suggestions for this book. At that time, I had no idea that I'd actually be quoted in the book! It's been over a year, but the book has been written, edited, and published! 10 Steps to Ultimate Productivity by Michael Sliwinski is now available for purchase!! I'll give you a summary of some of the great content from this book below. Make sure to read to the end for info on how to get entered for your chance to win a copy!
The first thing you need to know about this book is that its author definitely has the authority to be writing it! I had the honor tointerview Michael Sliwinski last year and learned about why he's a true productivity expert. Click here to read the post for more background on the man who created a productivity platform that nearly half a million people use daily!
Each chapter of the book is one of the 10 steps to ultimate productivity. For each step, you will be taught why it is important, learn from some real life examples, receive tips about how to put the step into practice in your own life. There are also bonus materials that you can access online to help with your own personal productivity system.
The ten steps are:
I'm so excited for you to read this book that I'm going to give you the chance to get one for FREE! There are two ways to enter (and you can do either or both for an additional entry!) A winner will be drawn on Thursday, January 17, 2019.
This week I announced that I'm giving away a copy of the book, Get Momentum: How to Start When You're Stuck by Jason and Jodi Womack. (If you're reading this before 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 there's still time to enter to win!) I highly recommend this book to help you get started on any project whether it be personal, work, or a passion project. Get Momentum first helps you to figure out why you're stuck and then breaks down getting momentum into 5 steps:
1. Motivation - What do I want to be known for?
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!