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Abruptly changing is not enough . . . James Clear, Habit Change, and a 7-Day Challenge

Changing habits has to be one of the hardest challenges that a person can face. Forming a new habit takes sustained effort, and breaking bad habits could prove even more frustrating. This is why abruptly changing is not enough.

James Clear writes about habit change and related topics. He has become a recent inspiration for me. You can find a link to one of his articles below, about a strategy he calls the habit creep. Essentially, Clear advocates for slow and sustainable change.

I first heard his work in one of his talks concerning marginal gains. Around that time I wrote the post “An adventure in goal-setting lead to this realization…

In that post, I explored a newfound enthusiasm for building a routine around short tasks, and at that particular time in my life, I focused on different ways to change bad habits and build better ones.

Clear’s strategy for setting small, manageable goals (e.g. writing three sentences a day), was one of many strategies that shifted my perspective on goal-setting and habits altogether.

When building a new habit, we should be thoughtful in our approach.

I’m sure he would agree with me on the issue that abruptly changing your lifestyle is not enough; in fact, abruptly changing your daily activity may do more harm than good. This is not to say that a quick change or boost, will be completely fruitless. Honestly, there have been times in my life when I needed an abrupt change to get me going.

Still, James Clear delivers something different. The tone is relaxed. I really enjoy the calm approach that he takes towards building lasting change. In my experience, setting smaller, more manageable goals often leads to better results. This seems to align with Clear’s ideas.

On the rainy days, when I feel exhausted and my brain is telling me to abandon my large-scale projects, I just turn to a small habit related goal. Take reading, for example. Next week, from May 7th – May 14th, 2018, I am participating in, and hosting, a 7-Day Reading Challenge. The rules are built around the idea of small, sustainable habit change.

Two of James Clear’s strategies helped me form the rules for the 7-Day Reading Challenge.

In his article, “The Proven, Reasonable and Totally Unsexy Secret to Success“, Clear writes:

  1. Increase your performance by a little bit each day. (Most people take this to the extreme.)
  2. Change your environment to remove small distractions and barriers. (Most people never think about this.)

My initial goal was to read more and to post more because reading helps me inform my writing, and posting keeps me reflecting about what I read, how I communicate with others, and how I contribute to discussions around reading, writing, and thinking.

Both rules of the 7-Day Challenge involve a small, manageable step. The rules do not perfectly align to the habit creep, but I am convinced that they can lead better reading and posting habits.

Here are the two rules of the #ReadWithCurtis 7-Day Reading Challenge.

During the official dates, I plan on adding daily tasks to help people “incrementally increase the level of performance” in the challenge. Part of that involves changing our mental and physical environment in small, manageable ways.

I’ll post all the tasks here.

Whatever you are working on may benefit from the same approach. I recommend reading some of James Clear’s ideas and chewing on them for awhile.


Daily Prompt Post: Abrupt

Do you have a goal that you are working on? Are you joining the 7-Day Reading Challenge?

Feel free to comment below or link back to this post!


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