Reflection: A Special Note on Burn Out

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We talked about different aspects and approaches to increase efficiency and control of your priorities. Those habits are useful for anyone, but consciously and consistently applying them is even more critical if you are working in an environment that is high stress or even conducive to burnout.

Burnout creeps on you and it is not pretty when it gets you. It also takes much more effort to cure it than to prevent it. In the following, I’ll provide a shortlist of principles that have worked for me in such situations in the past. They won’t work universally, but some of them might do the trick for you. If you feel stressed right now, give them a try and see what they can do for you.

I initially called those ideas ‘hacks’ to sound trendy, but changed it to ‘principles’ to make a point: those are not quick and easy fixes. You need to be serious, deliberate and consistent about them. You have to put in energy to make them work. And you need to keep doing it every day.

My principles will move on a spectrum from purpose (to keep your passion and happiness) to time management (to actually make room for all that purpose stuff).

Protect your personal passions

The most important rule comes first:

Know what you care about outside of work. Set time for those activities. Block it on your calendar and then protect it fiercely.

It is important to create a balance between your work and your passions outside of work. There is always more to be done at work, thus having a tendency to slowly creep into your personal life to the point where you suddenly realize that something is fundamentally wrong. Death by a thousand paper cuts. Don’t let that happen.

Know what’s important to you and then create rules to protect it. Those rules need to be yours. Different things work for different people.

For me, family comes first. With that, I have a rule that I don’t work once I’m home. I don’t work on weekends. I might come in early or stay later if I need to, but when I’m home, I’m home. There are a few cases where I deliberately decide that I want to finish something on a weekend, but I have a very high bar for those exceptions.

Create the moments you care about at work

We talked about making time for your personal passions. The same applies to your work passions:

Don’t get lost in tactical work. Set focus times where you do the things that matter to you and that align with your passion.

We all chose our jobs for a reason. We chose them because we are deeply passionate about core components of the role. At the same time, every job comes with a bunch of things we are not quite as excited about. The routine, the day to day, the reactive.

We need to do those things, but we must make sure that we don’t get lost in them and forget what actually excites us. Just as for your personal passions, you must block time for the things that get you excited at work. Again, it’s very personal to you what that is, but make sure it doesn’t get lost in the daily ‘rat race’.

For me, my primary motivators are working with and coaching great people. I also love to solve problems and build products. I’m blocking time for those deliberately. Being a data guy, I even color code my calendar to get reminded every time I look at my schedule if I’m striking a balance that works for me.

Change your mindset

We all have to do things we don’t particularly care about much. After all, we’re not at a party, we get paid to do a job for our company. However, usually there is a reason for the things we do:

Try to understand the reason. Discover the meaning. It makes a huge difference!

There is a reason for everything. While certain tasks might seem tedious and unnecessary, in most cases they serve an important and distinct purpose.

For example, at Amazon, we write a lot of documents and we constantly look at a lot of data. Very often I see the question “why do we need to do this” in people’s eyes. There is a reason. Looking at data helps you understand what’s going on, reflect and learn what happened and why. Then you can develop the right action plan to correct what you’re doing moving forward. Writing documents helps to sharpen your thinking and then to sell your ideas to others to get the proper support to make them happen.

If you look at the true purpose of why things are done, you can find much more satisfaction in doing them. There is ample research that purpose and passion are not defined by what you do, but how you think about it.

Pace yourself

Sometimes we have to push hard and go late. Make sure you don’t make it ‘always’.

There are times when you need to push hard and give it your all (and maybe more). But there are also times when you can recharge your batteries a little. Know when you need to do which.

It’s important to understand when you need to push hard and when you don’t. None of us can go full throttle all the time over an extended period of time.

Push hard when you need to, but also recognize when you have a period where you can recharge batteries. This is not about slacking because that will only catch up with you. It’s about knowing when you have to do 120% and when 90% is just fine. Remove the pressure from yourself when you can and don’t feel bad about it.

When I have the occasional day, when I can go home at 4 pm and enjoy a sunny evening with my family, I cherish that time and don’t feel a tiny bit guilty for not working late.

Treat it like a project

So with all that blocking of time, how do you actually get stuff done?

Treat your work day and tasks like a project. Prioritize, scope, focus, time-box. Don’t idle at work, rather focus and spend your idle time on the things you care about.

We need to treat our work tasks like projects. We need to deliberately manage them instead of just keep going until we will be done at some undefined point in the future, with an undefined amount of time and effort invested to get there.

Start your project now and don’t procrastinate it, even if the start scares you. Every journey starts with the first step.

Avoid unnecessary rework. Put your best foot forward and get it right the first time. If you don’t, learn what was missing and make super-sure you will get it right the next time you have a similar problem to solve. Nothing eats more time and energy (and is more frustrating) than repeated rework and fixing of the same issues.

Time-box how much time you spend on something (after all you want to free up time for the passions we talked about above). Prioritize what really needs to get done versus what just seems urgent or important. If the work is too much, see if you can scope it down without harming the overall outcome. Can you remove unnecessary ‘bells and whistles’? Time-box, and then be extremely focused in that time-box to deliver your best work most efficiently. Treat it like an engineering ‘dev spike’. When you hit the end of your time-box, stop. You need to train yourself to take your focus times serious.

If it’s still too much, it’s ok to say ‘no’ to things. Just know and be clear why you say ‘no’ and what trade-offs you’re making. Communicate the reasons and trade-offs. Communicate them early. It’s ok to not be able to tackle something if everyone knows about it and has enough time to come up with a mitigation plan (even better if you can propose a mitigation plan yourself). It’s not ok to let something slip past the deadline and then announce that you didn’t have time.

Be focused, cut out the slack. Rather than idling at work, double down, be your most focused self and then spend your freed-up time on the things you care about at work and at home.

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Capture

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Be More Effective – Week 25: Take Control, Don’t Burn Out

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Burnout comes from two key issues: the feeling that you cannot control what you need to work on (i.e. not being connected to ones’ work) and the feeling that you can never get on top of all the things you should be doing (i.e. the feeling of not achieving).

Take control (or at least feel like you do). Consciously set your priority for the day. Work around things that control you and find the pockets where you can do the things that matter to you.
Set realistic goals and accept that there will always be unfinished work at the end of the day.

Gain control over your work

One of the biggest contributors to burnout (in my mind) is the feeling that you have endless tasks on your plate and not enough control over how you spend your time.

To a large degree you can change that situation and feeling. Some of us have more control over our work lives, some less, but we can all find the pockets we can control and develop a mindset that helps us feel more ‘on top of things’.

If you just go through your day and wait for others to dictate what you will be doing, you will very likely run into either boredom or burnout fairly quickly. Rather, get clarity on what is important to you, and what you need to do to achieve those outcomes or that kind of activities.

Set time aside for those activities as a ‘passion-balance’ for the work that gets pushed into your day by others. Even activities that get dictated by others can get a different spin if you approach them from a different angle. For example you can look at an activity you need to do as just that, or you can see it as an opportunity to hone a specific skill of your’s or teach others by developing best practices.

It’s ok to not get to the bottom of your task list

Chances are that you have more work that you should be doing than what you can actually fit into a realistic work day and work week.

List out the things that you need to do in priority order. Then assign realistic time to them. Knowing what needs to be done and how much time each task requires allows you to set realistic targets for the day and the week.

Work towards those targets and measure success against that specific set of pre-defined activities, not your complete list of things you should do.

As you work through your list, tick off everything that you have achieved, including the things that were dictated by others. Often when we are busy with lots of competing priorities and to-dos we look back at the day and feel like we didn’t accomplish anything. Having a list with lots of check marks helps you realize how much you have actually achieved.

Know what you can control and what you cannot

Acknowledge when you get sidetracked by unplanned asks and fire fights. Take them as priorities for the day and consciously count them as wins when you’re done. They don’t add to your existing priorities, they just replace some of them. Don’t try to now achieve everything plus the added activities.

Some days, all you can achieve is to deal with an escalation, even if you had planned differently. Other days, you can spend most of your time and your energy on the priorities you picked. Don’t punish yourself by feeling bad in either case.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
Serenity prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr

 


Did you like this article? Want to read more?

I will keep posting articles here and I have them lined up way into summer 2020. However if you want to get it all in one comprehensive, structured, and grammar-checked (!) view, check out our new book:

 

Capture

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A practical guide to living healthier, happier and more successful in 52 weekly steps

By Alfons and Ulrike Staerk

ISBN 9781077278929

Find it on Amazon: Paperback, Kindle

 

If you like what you’re reading, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. If you don’t like it, please tell us what we can do better the next time. As self-published authors we don’t have the marketing power of big publishing houses. We rely on word of mouth endorsements through reader reviews.

Be More Effective – Week 21: Remove Distractions

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Do you envy the artist who is immersed in his painting or the monk who seems to be lost in his meditation? The trick to get there is to tune out all distractions. If we do something that we truly and deeply love, this can happen by itself. For example as you ge fully immersed when you watch your favorite team playing.

However, more often than not, we get distracted by something shiny and interesting popping up just when we started to get into out task. It takes up to 20 mins to fully get back into a task once distracted.

Remove all distractions. Observe what catches your attention and turn it off until you decide to take a break. Deliberately switch between deep focus and unfocused catch-up.

Unless you want to challenge your inner monk and develop focus despite external distractions, you should make your life easier by just eliminating them.

Turn off notifications

A classic distractor are any notifications on your computer or phone. Beeping sounds and popping windows for emails, text messages, IMs or even stupid system notifications pop in our visual field all the time (and the beeping makes sure, we notice even if we don’t look at our phone).

Turn off all notifications. I mean all of them. On my computer and phone, I have no email or text notifications. The only thing that I allow to interrupt me is a text from my wife or kids. Anything else can wait.

Put your phone on silent while you work, or better even, turn it off. If a call was important, the caller will leave a message. Personally I never answer the phone, but that’s a different story and probably a little too nerdy for most.

When you have a break time, go back to your email, pick up your phone, and check if there is something important that requires your attention.

Work in spurts – spurts of deep attention, and then spurts of catching up with distractions.

Snooze messages

You can even snooze emails or text messages for a period of time when you don’t want to be distracted. It’s easy to create rules for that in your email client, and your phone can be put into airplane mode.

Turn your email and texts off for the weekend. I have a rule in my Outlook client that directs my work email to a folder that I won’t see on my phone on the weekend. That rule lets through messages that are marked as urgent. Everything else has to wait until Monday.

Focus on One App at a Time

Now that we have turned of interrupting notifications, we will take it one step further. Kill multitasking.

Windows on a computer look nice. And they distract, dividing your focus across multiple apps.

Do one task at a time. Don’t allow distractions in your peripheral vision. Close all windows but the one you are working on. If you don’t want to do that, open the window / application you’re working in full-screen.

Modern computers support multiple virtual desktops. Move your focus app to a clean desktop where noting else is opened. Ban the distractions in your peripheral vision.

Focus on what you do. One thing at a time.

Deliberately change between one app and checking multiple inputs and signals. Make a choice whether you are tactical or strategic. Both important but not at the same time.

Be More Effective – Week 20: Pace Yourself

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If we want to grow, we need to push ourselves. We need to go beyond our comfort zone and do what’s hard. In order to build a muscle, we need to stress it to the point where is tires out. The same is true for other areas in which we learn and grow.

However, and this is critically important, we also need to slow down and recover. Our abilities grow when we slow down after a stretch push. Our muscles grow in the recovery times, to get ready for the next time when we stress them more than usual.

Pace yourself. Decide when to push hard and when to slow down and recover. Recover and grow. Get ready for the next time you will need to push.

Without those downtimes and recovery periods we won’t get better. Our muscles will not grow. Likewise our abilities will not grow if we operate always and exclusively at the point where we’re close to breaking.

We grow from pushing, speeding up and then consciously slowing down and relaxing again.

We grow if we stretch ourselves, but ONLY if we also allow our muscles and mind to regenerate. Otherwise we just burn out. Pace yourself!

As you take on stretch assignments or go hard to meet an important deadline, make it a point to also plan in (and take) the following recovery time. For me it’s weekdays versus weekends. Find out what it is for you.

When you take a recovery time, do it fully. Athletes don’t practice during their recovery period. You shouldn’t either. Stay away from work, emails and texts during that time. Come back afterwards, refreshed and stronger.

Reflection: Don’t Get Stuck in End-Goal Obsession

computer-767776_1920We are all too often focused (fixated) on the end goal and forget about the necessary individual steps that lead us there. Since we don’t know exactly how to reach our goals, we don’t make progress and get increasingly frustrated.

The problem is that most individuals, leaders and businesses focus on output metrics and try to improve them. At Amazon I’ve learned to focus on improving input metrics instead. It’s a powerful shift in mindset if you want to have true impact.

Focus on the things you can manage. Measure inputs and real-time metrics rather than outputs. Design your metrics to support your long-term plan, not short-term gains.

The problem with output metrics

Output metrics (e.g. profit, user base, user retention, downloads) are the outcomes that a business wants to achieve and the ultimate goal is to improve them as much as possible.

The only issue with that is, that output metrics or business outcomes are the result of many right or wrong actions that have already been taken and many right or wrong decisions that have already been made in the past. It’s very hard to look at a lagging profit or user metric and figure out what to do specifically. And by the time the output metric is lagging, it’s in most cases also too late to course correct anyway.

Input metrics help shape outcomes

The better metrics to look at are input metrics. Input metrics are measurements of the things that need to go right in order to generate great outcomes. At Amazon we focus on input metrics first and foremost.

For example, if you build a new app and want to grow your user base quickly and sustainably, you should not spend all your energy looking at the number of users. Probably you shouldn’t look at that at all for the first few months. Instead you need to get your inputs in shape. For instance, is your product what users want (what’s your app’s rating in the store, what are the negative feedbacks from users)? Are your marketing campaigns effective (what are click-through rates, how is your conversion rate for downloads and sign-ups)?

Focus on inputs more than on the outputs when you look at the funnel. Input metrics are early warnings. They are also much more actionable than output metrics. It’s much easier to react on leading click-through rates or customer feedback about insufficient UX, than to look at low usage numbers and guess what might be wrong.

Focusing on inputs sets you up for the long run

Too much focus on output metrics can also incentivize you to make bad long-term decisions in order to gain short-term benefits (just look at Wall Street to get an abundance of examples). Focusing on input metrics will guide you to build the right systems and set the right priorities for long-term growth.

I saw an example for that conflict just recently during MBA interviews. I asked candidates how they would decide which of two prices (same product, different suppliers, different pricing) they would offer to a customer. Most candidates will provide the standard answer: “the price that offers the best margin and thus the best profit for the company as long as it’s within the constraints (buying power) of the customer”. That answer maximizes the output metric (profit).

If you focus on input metrics, the above is the wrong answer (and btw, don’t give that answer in an Amazon interview). Your input metric is to have lots of happy returning customers who trust you. If customers are happy, return often and trust you, they will make great business with you over time. The right answer is to “always offer the best price to the customer”. It’s the better long-term strategy and it will drive the right outcomes. That’s why at Amazon customer obsession always comes first.

Closing with a non-business example

To drive home the point, I want to close with a non-business example.

As you know by now, I care a lot about living a healthy life. And I believe in measuring progress.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” – Peter Drucker

In the past I did track my progress on outcomes like my weight, my overall fitness (how do you even define that?) my energy levels and so on. You get the idea. The problem is that those ‘metrics’ change slowly and are pretty hard to influence directly since they are the result of many things playing together.

In recent years I changed my focus to a small set of input metrics: (1) exercise every single day, (2) sleep 8 hours a day and (3) drink 2 liters of water every day. Those metrics are simple, they are accurate on a daily basis and I know exactly what to do if I miss any of them. They are also very easy to track on my Fitbit or Apple watch.

You might guess it already, but since having that focus I saw great improvements on my fitness, weight, energy and general feeling of wellbeing without actually focusing on any of those outcome metrics specifically.

Be More Effective – Week 18: Declare War on Procrastination and Wasted Time

Did you check Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn updates today? Did you play a game on your phone? For how long? Did you wonder where the time went? Did you feel better and more satisfied afterwards or did it leave a little sour taste in your mouth?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to use social media and play games. As long as you do it deliberately. In martial arts we learn that the key to everything is to make conscious decisions, take deliberate action and be aware of what’s going on.

Make conscious decisions, take deliberate action and be aware of the time you spend.

If you feel like playing a game, do so for all means. But decide before, how long you want to play and be deliberate as to what else you will not do in order to play that game. Make a conscious decision to not go in the yard to smell flowers because you want to play that game for 30 mins.

Do not just do those things so that you don’t have to tackle a chore you didn’t want to do.

Years ago, Uli and I would watch TV in the evenings. We would sit down, hop across channels, watch shows that we only halfway liked and endured commercials. Since we rarely found something that was truly satisfying we kept looking for much of the evening and went to bed way to late, only to be groggy and cranky the next morning. We don’t have cable anymore. On weekends we often watch one movie with our kids (one for the weekend) and have a lot of fun doing so. Otherwise the screen stays off.

Same for social media. A few years ago, I used to spend a lot of time on Facebook feeds or news outlets (the real ones, not all the made-up fake news). I hardly ever got satisfied and I almost never felt better. Now I get up in the morning, take a shower and go to work right away. As a result, I come home to my kids a little earlier in the evening. I don’t miss anything, but gain a lot. I do check Facebook on Saturday mornings, but I do it deliberately (I might even stop that, since the news feed gets worse every time).

Decide how you want to spend your time. Set a limit. Track the limit. Don’t just do it to have an excuse to be lazy. If you want to be lazy, make it deliberately and proudly.

In the beginning it can help to set yourself screen time limits. Monitor how you do spend time and decide what it should be. Write it down. Then start controlling your time. Turn of the screen. Cancel your cable subscription.

Only do what gives you real longterm pleasure – it’s likely not your screen.

However, please do get me right. If you love Facebook, a game, a TV show and get pleasure and satisfaction from it every time you watch it, please do so. Likewise procrastination doesn’t only come in the form of digital media. You might as well procrastinate fiddling around in the house because you don’t want to get yourself to the office work. Doing dishes has so much more appeal during tax season than in the months after you turned in your taxes.

Control your procrastinations. Do them deliberately (or not at all).

Reflection: Build and Establish Good Habits

joy-2483926_1920Heads-up – this is going to be a long post, but it is crucial for making our changes stick. Bear with me and take your time to read it.

We are now 14 weeks into building healthier habits for a more productive and balanced life. That means somewhere between 5 to 10 new habit changes already, depending on which ones and how many you decided to pick up.

Before we move on to a whole new area (being more efficient at your work), let’s talk a little bit about how we make all those habits stick.

How do we make them stick?

How can we avoid to flip-flop from new habit to new habit every week and bouncing back to bad behaviours as soon as we take our eyes off a recent habit change?

In the past I’ve tried to follow the rule that you have to keep a habit for 30 days to make it stick, but to be honest more often than not this didn’t work for me. More recently I came across two books that provide good frameworks that do actually work (at least for me).

  • “Mini Habits”, Stephen Guise – Simple to read book that focuses on making habits so small that you cannot possibly fail to just do them.
  • “Atomic Habits”, James Clear – A more scientific exploration of the topic with many suggestions on how to make habits stick.

The following is a summary of the rules I found most effective from those books. Read the books for more suggestions as well as the science behind them.

 1 – One small change at a time

Don’t boil the ocean! You will get frustrated and will give up.

Don’t try to change more than one behavior or add more than one habit at a time. Don’t pick habits that reflect your end goal, but rather focus on the next immediate step that will get you there.

Don’t boil the ocean. Pick one habit at a time. Make your habit changes too small to fail.

Instead pick one habit per week and focus on it. Focus on only that habit until you reliably repeat it. Then you can add a new habit to your list. If you notice that you stopped doing the previous change, go back and add that habit back again.

Make your habit change small. Instead of trying to turn end goals into a habit, focus on the immediate next step. For example, instead of saying “I will lose 10 pounds”, make it a habit to drink a refreshing glass of water every time you want to grab your habitual can of soda.

Make your habit changes small, make them easy. Make them too small to fail.

Small changes add up. Rather than making a heroic effort and keeping it for two weeks, make incremental 1% changes and keep going at them for the rest of your life. Nothing beats the impact of consistency (the “Compounding effect of 1% changes.”, James Clear).

2 – Don’t break your streak

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” – Peter Drucker

Once a new habit is truly a habit you will do it naturally. Until then you need to ‘manage’ yourself to stick to it. Usually the best way to do that is to track and keep a log that holds you accountable.

Track of your progress to keep you going. Don’t break your streak. Never fail twice.

Tracking your progress helps to keep you motivated as you see the rewarding days, when you kept to your habit, adding up. It also serves to hold you accountable because once you have a chain of successful days, you don’t want to break the streak.

How you track your habit doesn’t matter as long as you do it. Find the way that works best for you: a wall calendar that you tick off, your personal journal, a jar of marbles that you fill up every time you did a specific habit, an app on your phone that you always have with you. Personally I like to use both a wall calendar for a big longterm habit that I’m chasing, as well as an iPhone app (Streaks) to keep track of my progress on the small changes throughout the day.

Try your best to not break a streak. It is motivational to see how you add day after day to your list of little wins. Try to not drop the ball, work hard to not break the streak.

Having that said, life will happen. Every now and then something will come in the way of your habit. That is a crucial point in your habit-forming. One of two things will happen: 1) you broke your streak and will now have a much lower bar to dropping the habit again the next day or 2) you get right back to your habit the next day. To be honest, the first response is much more likely and it dooms you for failure on your desired longterm changes. The biggest risk to a habit is not the start but keeping to go.

To prevent you from dropping your habit once you face the first obstacle, make it a point to never fail twice in a row. It’s ok to fail every now and again. But NEVER fail twice in a row to do your habit.

As a side note for habit tracking apps: I like the iOS Streak app which lets me track six habits at a time. If I successfully did a habit for six weeks, it most likely sticks and I can replace it with a new one. If it doesn’t stick yet, I will wait a little longer before I take on the next habit. Tracking six habits at a time is a reasonable balance between ambition and feasibility.

3 – Make it automatic

Your will power drains through the day. Have a plan. Make your habits a reflex.

We all start our days with the best intentions. We stick to our priorities through the morning and then the curve balls start hitting us. We get tired, we get worn out. We come home exhausted, drop in front of the TV, have a couple of drinks. Then we go to bed, slightly frustrated about ourselves and have the best intentions to be more disciplined the next day. The next day won’t be any different though.

Have a plan. Make good habits easy and bad habits difficult. Make your habit a reflex. Identify trigger points.

The problem is that we cannot trust ourselves as we get more and more tired throughout the day and our willpower gets depleted by the obstacles, challenges and decisions we are facing.

We need our fresh mind to make the right decisions for us. We need your well rested brain, with its full reservoir of will power and sight of the right priorities to make the decisions for us, before the tired brain can kick in and take over.

Make a proactive plan of ‘if, then’ decisions. You will be tired in the evening when you come home. Make a plan what you will do when you want to drop in front of the TV (“when I want to grab the TV remote, I will rather pick up a cup of tea and the book I started reading”). Make the plan while you still have your priorities straight, not when you’re tired. That way you will not need to decide when you’re tired, you will only need to execute.

Identifying and setting triggers for your habits is an additional technique that you can use. Put your gym bag in front of your door so that you have to pick it up on your way to work. Make fruit and veggies visibly available in your house and make candy hard to reach. Put away the remote and place a book in its place. Get the TV out of your bedroom, set nighttime timers that switch off your devices and lights.

You can also add a new habit to something that you already do habitually (“when I grab my morning coffee I will do 10 push-ups”). It’s an easy way to trigger a new good behavior through a behavior that is already ingrained in your daily life.

Make your habit a reflex, so you no longer need to make a conscious decision. Make good habits easy and bad habits difficult to start.

4 – Work backwards from who you want to be

“Identity is stronger than goals. Your believes of yourself drive your behavior.” – James Clear

So far we talked about how you can make very specific behaviors stick. It’s a very narrow approach and requires will power. After all, you want to change something AGAINST what you perceive as your natural preferences.

To take this to the next level, you need to change your natural preferences. You need to change who you think you are and what preferences that person has. You need to change your image of yourself.

Decide what type of person you are and then make the decisions such a person would make.

However, don’t get stuck at dreaming about what type of person you would wish to be. Decide what type of person you are.

Are you a healthy person? Are you a person who doesn’t drink alcohol? Are you a person that exercises every day? Are you a person that spends quality time with his kids and family every day? Are you a person that creates a piece of art every day? Are you a person who helps someone every day?

Decide who you ARE. Then make the decisions such a person will make.

Are you a person who doesn’t drink alcohol? Well, then it’s easy, you don’t need to buy beer anymore and you don’t need to mull over whether you should have a drink at the work party or not. You’re a person that doesn’t drink alcohol. Period.

Many years ago I decided that I never ever want to drive after having had a drink anymore (I neverhad an accident or issue up to then, but I also didn’t want to take the risk anymore). I didn’t know back then, but I decided to not be a person who drives after they had a drink. And I never once did since then, nor did I miss it.

For in the moment decisions, it doesn’t matter as much what longterm goals you have or what person you would wish to become when you grow up. What matters is what person you decided that you are already and what decisions such a person makes.

Decide what person you are TODAY and make the decisions such a person would make.