I listed down all the learnings from this interview between James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) and Lewis Howes (who I didn’t know but is an interesting author too). I had the chance to listen to this podcast episode at the beginning of this year 2023 and started to apply so many things already. Actually one article about it here published 6 months later.
Without any form of suspense, here is the video and the summary of my learnings is below the video.
Goal Settings by James Clear: Define who you want to “be” rather than what you want to “have”.
So, goal settings. Everyone set goals for their life / work, etc. But when we set goals we usually focus on what result we want to HAVE. For example: “I want to loose 5 kg in 6 months”.
6 month later, if you lost only 4kg, with such a “HAVE” goal, you might just blame yourself for not loosing the 6 promised kilos.
However, if you look at it from a different perspective, you just lost 4 kg in 6 months! This might be something to celebrate instead. You are in the right direction!! You’re doing better today than 6 months ago, thanks to trying to reach that goal.
So James Clear invite us to set “be” goals. I mean goals that defines who you are and that will shape your identity rather than goals purely based on a set of arbitrary results.
Ask yourself: “Who do you want to be in 6 months?” rather than how many kilos you want to loose.
And then integrate this new “future” identity to your today daily habits. You want to look healthy and fit in 6 months? Then you better start exercising more, and stop eating too much right away.
I am so sad because I tried to explain this to my wife in Vietnamese but I got stuck at differentiating “to be” and “to have”.. if you’re a Vietnamese speaker I’d love to understand how you would explain this to another Vietnamese friend.
How long time does it take to build a habit? James Clear’s answer: “Forever”
James Clear himself in his book has been a bit more strict about how long time it takes to build a habit. I think it’s about 66 days; and you have 3 phases of 22 days each.
But then in this interview he goes back to this idea, and explain that; first it depends on the difficulty of what you are trying to implement.
And second, it is just “taking forever”… As long as you do it everyday it is a habit. As long as you make it part of your identity it becomes a habit.
So again, based on the above takeaway; define who you want to be in the coming months, years, decades and start implementing the habits that this future self would do on a daily basis.
Focus on the trajectory of who you want to be. Not the standing point of today.
“Quand le sage montre la lune, l’imbecile regarde le doigt.”
Today you might see no result to countless attempts. But remember that you are on a journey. Focus on the trajectory.
You are on the move. Keep going.
What can you do in 2 hours, that will be even more valuable than when you were doing it in 20 hours.
This goes back to simple productivity hacks on time management.
If you set a deadline of 2 hours instead of 20, what can you accomplish that will have a bigger impact?
James Clear just had kids and he needs his time for his family. So he is not spending as many hours a day on writing anymore. So this question is what keeps him flowing with his blog and newsletter, while he spends 10 times less on it.
This is next level.
Imagine applying it to your work, to your personal projects, etc.
“I will figure it out” mindset.
James Clear has a can-do mindset. To the question: “what made you overcoming all your challenges over the years?” he answered that his mindset of always thinking there can be a solution and that he will figure it out SAVED HIM.
You might not have a solution to all the problems. You might not even think of all the problems. And if you try to contain them all you will loose your mind.
Instead, adopt this “I will figure it out” mindset and keep moving forward.
“Master these 3 habits to So You DON’T WASTE Another Year Of Your Life AWAY”
We’re not machines we need to sleep to regenerate and be at the top of our game. So cherish your bed, take care of your sleep quality and make sure that on the next day, you wake up fully energized and ready to perform at the best of your abilities.
I wrote one article 3 years ago on Sleep. Why it was so important. I sleep now 8 hours per day and this has changed my life: my mood, my health, my performances, my relationship to my environment, etc.
Workout but find something you are exited to do. If going to the gym is not your thing then fine, just find the kind of exercise that works for you: walking, running, climbing, cycling, hiking, swimming, etc. There are way too many options out there if you just start searching and trying them out.
Remember: find something interesting for you.
If you are interested, chances are you will never miss a workout session anymore. And you just need to do a little bit everyday at first.
Self reflection: journaling. This habit has transformed my life. I cannot finish a day if I haven’t write down what I did, things noticeable, progresses, frustrations, ideas, etc. This helps me to go to sleep and feel accomplished.
But self reflection takes so many forms and shapes. You can also meditate, join some mastermind groups or have a simple conversation with your family at the dinner table everyday.
Are you directing your energy and attention to the right thing?
Always ask yourself this question because:
- Your energy levels are different overtime.
- Your attention may shift.
- Your definition what is right also changes.
Asking yourself this question regularly will help you to stay on track on the “trajectory” mentioned above. If the future version of yourself is “there”, then are you, today, directing your energy and attention to that “identity”?
Your environment matters
If your social environment is aligned with the habits that you want to build, it’s 10 times easier for you to implement those habits on a daily basis.
So think about the future version you want to become. Then, start analysing your surroundings and compare if this environment is going to boost your progress or slow you down.
Changing your environment now can be something very painful and difficult at first, but it’s the price to pay for you to find alignment and be happier.
I switched from “nightlife” to “early-morning”; I lost all my nightlife friends, but I made new ones who also wake up at 6am. Now I waste money on wellness instead of gin and tonics… but that’s another story ;)!
Do not try to convince people.
With Atomic Habits, James Clear is showing a solution to a problem that is already here and that people understand easily. Everyone knows that good habits can help you, and are hard to build, and that it’s not ok to stick to bad habits.
So instead of trying to get people to care about his solution and trying to convince them that he knew best, he simply answered an already existing problem.
If you are trying to teach something to people, I think this is a pretty powerful perspective to have.
What is the work that keeps working for me once it’s done?
After thinking “what you can do in 2 hours that will bring way more value than what you were doing in 20?”, I think this question is the best of the interview.
James Clear focuses a lot on things that will work for him after it’s finished. For example, he mentioned that radio interviews, after the live is over, it’s gone. While podcasts or youtube videos or blog articles are still here 10 years after.
And then, 10 years after, when he has 200 people reading one of his article per day, it’s like mini-versions of him, interacting with these 200 individuals on a daily basis without having him actually re-writing the article for each one of them.
3 lessons on life by James Clear
I am happy as soon as I create something.
He is encouraging us to create something, to contribute. This is what will motivate us to keep moving forward.
You have only one body.
You can’t sell it. Take good care of it.
You can renovate it, you can upgrade it.
But at the end it’s the same body, you only have one.
The way you spend your days is the way you’re going to spend your life.
If you focus on the results you want, you may forget that to get there, you need time to be that version of yourself on a daily basis first.
What is your definition of “Greatness”:
“Show up on the bad days”. It is what makes a difference on the long term and that is what makes you “great”.