Prompted: Creating a Home of Habit
Creating favorable circumstances through action.
Hey there - I’ll trust you’re doing well this afternoon and hope you’re ready to jump right into this week’s thoughts and prompts.
Today we’re diving deeper into the dreaded loss of momentum that comes when we’re pulled away from our normal circumstances and can’t seem to keep up the same good habits we have when everything is “normal”. I hope the thoughts below will help you think about taking action differently and create more positive momentum in your life.
As always, thanks for reading!
Creating a Home of Habit
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
Here’s a familiar story: We go to the gym 5 days in a row, start to feel measurable differences after meditating for two weeks, stick to a strict diet for several weeks in a row, or work on a new project consistently. The excitement from building momentum creeps into our minds and encourages us to keep it up.
And then something takes us away from our normal circumstances. We have to travel for work, meet up with friends from college, drive several hours for a baptism, stay up late to give a friend a ride, or get sick.
In an instant, our momentum, confidence, and streak are ruined.
Once our circumstances change, our actions follow suit. It’s one of the supremely frustrating things in the pursuit of becoming a bit better each day. We know we’re capable of investing time in worthwhile pursuits, but even the smallest change to our version of normal throws us off course.
If we lived in a bubble and had control of every external factor it would be easy to stay consistent and keep ourselves on track. Without additional responsibilities or unexpected interruptions, we’d never miss a workout, indulge in a cheat meal, or otherwise get off track.
Unfortunately for us all, life is a string of exceptions, changing circumstances, and constant adjustment. Unless we sacrifice everything and become a hermit, we’ll never have complete control.
Marines don’t train for warm sunny days where everything goes perfectly and the enemy operates exactly how they expect. They train for the worst-case scenario. They learn to operate seamlessly in the worst conditions imaginable so when shit inevitably hits the fan, they execute anyway because they trained in chaos.
We should spend our time raising our baseline in the midst of chaos and uncertainty instead of spending our time and energy chasing perfection in ideal circumstances. Making 80% of our days pretty good will move us farther than having 40% be perfect and 60% be a total loss.
Instead of letting circumstances change our actions, our actions should be constant despite our circumstances. In foreign or chaotic environments, creating a home of habit will keep our actions consistent.
A home of habit is a collection of habits that we do every day. Instead of relying on the perfect circumstances to feel normalcy and consistency, we create familiar circumstances with our habits regardless of where we are or what we’re doing. We shouldn’t pick more than 5 habits and they should be able to be completed anywhere, move us forward, and make us feel like we’ve won the day.
Easy examples include journaling, reading, writing, exercise, meditation, or drawing. To check the box, we shouldn’t compare the outcomes to what we would expect under perfect circumstances. If our normal workout is 60 minutes of weightlifting we can’t expect that under foreign or chaotic circumstances. If all we can do is walk briskly around the airport, that still puts a check in the box and moves us forward.
The goal of building a home of habit is to raise our baseline for every single day. Imagine the bare minimum of brushing our teeth, getting dressed, and having something to eat. We’re looking to create a similar set of non-negotiable activities that we do every day no matter the circumstances, but each habit should move us forward just the tiniest bit so we feel progress and accomplishment every day.
Once we build our house of habit, consistency, and momentum for what matters is no longer dependent on external factors we cannot control. Instead, we create circumstances through small, but powerful habits that move us forward even in the most chaotic or foreign environments.
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What are 3-5 actions that will make up your home of habit?
Imagine the most chaotic or compromising circumstances you experienced in the last 6 months. How and when would you have done each of the actions in your house of habit?
How will shifting the idea of normal circumstances from where we are to what we choose to do impact my progress in worthwhile pursuits?
This is the template I used to create a tracker for the 5 things I do every day to create my home of habit. I use Notion, but if you prefer Google Sheets, try this template instead.
The Surprising Benefits of Journaling One Sentence Every Day
A quick blog post from James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, the best-selling book of 2022 worldwide in any category.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.
Great piece! "Making 80% of our days pretty good will move us farther than having 40% be perfect and 60% be a total loss." -> simple but powerful perspective-shift.
Duplicated the habit tracker and will be giving it a try as I get back into habits after an... atypical week. Thanks Kevin!
Thanks Ethan. Excited to see how it goes!