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Book Challenge

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear #100BookChallenge

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.― Carl Jung

In the book, Atomic Habits by Author James Clear shares the step-by-step plan for building better habits, why tiny atomic changes can make a big difference in forming good and breaking bad habits. The book is rich with insights, examples, anecdotes and real life scenarios which is easy to connect with.

The book expands on the concepts earlier shared by Charles Duhigg, in his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Atomic Habits are tiny changes with marginal gains, 1% improvement, tiny incremental changes which if sustained to for a long period of time leads to significant changes.

Habits are like the atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement. At first, these tiny routines seem insignificant, but soon they build on each other and fuel bigger wins that multiply to a degree that far outweighs the cost of their initial investment.

The basic premise of the book is that small incremental changes lead to long term result. Here are some the ways have been using the atomic habits to enhance my productivity:

  • Leaving my phone in another room for maximum productivity.
  • Uninstalling Social Media Apps from my Phone.
  • Doing Push-Ups first thing in the morning.
  • 30 minutes Skipping at least 2-3 times a week.

Here are my Favourite take aways from reading Atomic Habits:

Habit Formation

The process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.

Cue :  The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior.  It is a bit of information that predicts a reward.

Craving: They are the motivational force behind every habit. Without some level of motivation or desire—without craving a change—we have no reason to act”

Response:  The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. Whether a response occurs depends on how motivated you are and how much friction is associated with the behavior.

Reward:  Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: (1) they satisfy us and (2) they teach us.

If a behavior is insufficient in any of the four stages, it will not become a habit.

Eliminate the cue and your habit will never start.

Reduce the craving and you won’t experience enough motivation to act.

Make the behavior difficult and you won’t be able to do it. And if the reward fails to satisfy your desire, then you’ll have no reason to do it again in the future.

Without the first three steps, a behavior will not occur. Without all four, a behavior will not be repeated.”

How to Create a Good Habit

  • The 1st law (Cue): Make it obvious.
  • The 2nd law (Craving): Make it attractive.
  • The 3rd law (Response): Make it easy.
  • The 4th law (Reward): Make it satisfying

How to Break a Bad Habit

  • Inversion of the 1st law (Cue): Make it invisible.
  • Inversion of the 2nd law (Craving): Make it unattractive.
  • Inversion of the 3rd law (Response): Make it difficult.
  • Inversion of the 4th law (Reward): Make it unsatisfying.

Implementation Intention

Implementation intention, which is a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act. That is, how you intend to implement a particular habit.

  • When situation X arises, I will perform response Y.
  • I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].

Example:

  • I will exercise for one hour at 5 p.m. in my local gym.
  • I will study Spanish for twenty minutes at 6 p.m. in my bedroom.

Habit Stacking

When it comes to building new habits, you can use the connectedness of behavior to your advantage. One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.

Habit stacking is a special form of an implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit.

The habit stacking formula is:

“After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].

For Example:

Exercise. After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.

The aggregation of marginal gains – 1% Improvement

Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

If you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.

1% BETTER EVERY DAY

  • 1% worse every day for one year. 0.99365 = 00.03
  • 1% better every day for one year. 1.01365 = 37.78

Valley of Disappointment

Breakthrough moments are often the result of many previous actions, which build up the potential required to unleash a major change. This pattern shows up everywhere.

  • Cancer spends 80 percent of its life undetectable, then takes over the body in months.
  • Bamboo can barely be seen for the first five years as it builds extensive root systems underground before exploding ninety feet into the air within six weeks.”

Similarly, habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance. In the early and middle stages of any quest, there is often a Valley of Disappointment.

You expect to make progress in a linear fashion and it’s frustrating how ineffective changes can seem during the first days, weeks, and even months. It doesn’t feel like you are going anywhere. It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.

Goal Less Thinking

True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals and not enough time designing your systems.

Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem.

What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.

Building Identity Based Habits

Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.

True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.

Anyone can convince themselves to visit the gym or eat healthy once or twice, but if you don’t shift the belief behind the behavior, then it is hard to stick with long-term changes. Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.

  • The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.
  • The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner.
  • The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician.

Your behaviours are usually a reflection of your identity. What you do is an indication of the type of person you believe that you are—either consciously or unconsciously..

New identities require new evidence. It is a simple two-step process:

  • Decide the type of person you want to be.
  • Prove it to yourself with small wins.

Forming or Breaking a bad habit can be very hard but putting the systems highlighted in the book such as Implementation Intention, Goal Less Thinking, Identity Based Habit, Habit Stacking etc can go a long way in helping you form or break a habit.

All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

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Book Challenge

50 Audiobooks listening Challenge 2020

I would be experimenting with listening to 50 audiobooks by December 31st 2020. Audiobooks and podcasts are my favourite learning strategies in my quest to get better daily.

Strategy

  • Buy one Audiobook every month which comes with my monthly subscription on Audible.com
  • Borrow Audiobooks from the Public Library
  • Re-Listen to more audiobooks in my compilation as I have come to realize that with repeated listens I get the concepts better.

Listening Times –

  • First thing in the morning and last thing in the evening.
  • While in commute and in the Gym.

Here are the audiobooks I’m listening to:

January – 2

February – 2

March

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Book Challenge

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

“Loss, grief, and disappointment are profoundly personal. We all have unique circumstances and reactions to them.”

Losing my mum is by far the toughest thing have had to Endure thus far and in healing/grieving, so many lessons have been learnt in the process.

The Book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant made me teary a lot while reading it as I could totally relate with most of the stories, anecdotes, pain and experiences she shared on losing her husband Dave Goldberg.

The book explores the psychology of recovery and the challenges of regaining confidence and rediscovering joy. Option B shares Insights on facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.- Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl

Here are some of my favourite take-aways from reading Option B:

The 3 Ps of Recovery

We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery:

 (1) personalization—the belief that we are at fault;
 (2) pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and
(3) permanence—the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever”

“Hundreds of studies have shown that children and adults recover more quickly when they realize that hardships aren’t entirely their fault, don’t affect every aspect of their lives, and won’t follow them everywhere forever. Recognizing that negative events aren’t personal, pervasive, or permanent makes people less likely to get depressed and better able to cope”

“A day of joy is fifteen minutes. A day of pain is fifteen years,” he said. “No one pretends this is easy, but the job of life is to make those fifteen minutes into fifteen years and those fifteen years into fifteen minutes.” – Larry Brilliant said while he was consoling Sheryl on Daves’ Death

The Non-Question-Asking Friend,

The Non-Question-Asking Friend, who never, ever, ever asks you anything about your life.” Sometimes these friends are self-absorbed. Sometimes they’re just uncomfortable having intimate conversations.”

“When you’re faced with tragedy, you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people—you’re surrounded by platitudes. So what do we offer instead of ‘everything happens for a reason’?” asks writer Tim Lawrence. He suggests that “the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. To literally say the words: I acknowledge your pain. I’m here with you.”

The Platinum Rule

Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. But when someone is suffering, instead of following the Golden Rule, we need to follow the :

Platinum Rule: treat others as they want to be treated. Take a cue from the person in distress and respond with understanding—or better yet, action.”

When we hear that someone we care about has lost a job, started chemo, or is going through a divorce, our first impulse is usually “I should reach out.” Then right after that impulse doubts often flood our mind.

 “What if I say the wrong thing?” – Say it anyways
“What if talking about it makes her feel self-conscious?” – Be there for them anyways
“What if I’m overstepping?” – Let them tell you that.

In prosperity our friends know usin adversity we know our friends”

Once raised, these doubts are followed by excuses like “He has so many friends and we’re not that close.” Or “She must be so busy. I don’t want to bother her.” We put off calling or offering help until we feel guilty that we didn’t do it sooner…and then it feels too late.

When one door of happiness closesanother opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

Self Compassion

Psychologist Kristin Neff describes self-compassion as offering the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to a friend. It allows us to respond to our own errors with concern and understanding rather than criticism and shame.

Self-compassion comes from recognizing that our imperfections are part of being human. Those who can tap into it recover from hardship faster.

Journaling

Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said that life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward. Journaling helped me make sense of the past and rebuild my self-confidence to navigate the present and future,

“ Journaling helped me process my overwhelming feelings and my all-too-many regrets.”

Post-traumatic growth.

“Let me fall if I must fall. The one I become will catch me.”

Finding greater meaning in life—a stronger sense of purpose rooted in a belief that one’s existence has significance. In Viktor Frankl’s words:

“In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.”

“Tragedy does not always leave us appreciating the people in our lives. Trauma can make us wary of others and have lasting negative effects on our ability to form relationships.

Many survivors of sexual abuse and assault report that their beliefs about the goodness of others remain shattered and they have difficulty trusting people. After losing a child, parents often have a harder time getting along with relatives and neighbors.

After losing a spouse, it’s common for people to argue more with friends and feel insulted by them. But tragedy can also motivate people to develop new and deeper relationships.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Seneca

We usually all regret more our Failure to act than our failed actions. Psychologist have found that we usually regret the chances we missed , not the chances we took.

Peace is joy at rest. Joy is peace on its feet.” ― Anne Lamott. 

Taking Back Joy

A life chasing pleasure without meaning is an aimless existence. Yet a meaningful life without joy is a depressing one.

Survivor guilt is a thief of joy—yet another secondary loss from death. When people lose a loved one, they are not just wracked with grief but also with remorse. It’s another personalization trap: “Why am I the one who is still alive?” Even after acute grief is gone, the guilt remains. “I didn’t spend enough time with him.”

“Part of every misery,” C. S. Lewis wrote, is “misery’s shadow…the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer.”

And death isn’t the only kind of loss that triggers guilt. When a company lays off employees, those who keep their jobs often struggle with survivor guilt. The thought process begins with “It should’ve been me.” This is followed by gratitude—“I’m glad it wasn’t me”—which is quickly washed away by shame: “I’m a bad person for feeling happy when my friends lost their jobs.”

Paying attention to moments of joy takes effort because we are wired to focus on the negatives more than the positives. Bad events tend to have a stronger effect on us than good events.

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.—ALBERT CAMUS

No matter what we are going through in life, it has not come to stay. This too shall pass, as Les Brown would say “until you handle it with grace, it will stay in your face.”

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

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Book Challenge Books

How to Read 100 Books in a Year

I first explored the idea of reading 100 book in a year in 2016. It was part of my new year resolution and have tried to do it yearly ever since:

2016

Goal: Read 100 Hardcover Books
Outcome: Read 50+ Books by December 31st 2016

2017:

Goal: Read 100 Books from my Amazon Kindle.
Outcome: Read 80+ Books by December 31st 2017

2018:

Goal: Read 100 Books from my Amazon Kindle
Outcome: Read 10+ but stopped to make & execute some life decisions (Relocation et al)

2019:

Did not set the goal to read 100 Books but read some books : was not counting but I guess I read 20+ books all year round.

I am presently committed to reading 100 books in 2020 through my 100 Books reading Challenge, You might be wondering how do I intend to read 100 books in 365 days? Here are the strategies that would enable Me (you) achieve it:

  1. Start with Why

He that has a strong WHY can deal with any How.

Why am I reading lots of books?
Ans: Because am ignorant in lots of subject matters and I want to widen my vision of the future and raise my Standards, change my worldview, have more empathy for people. The list is endless for the reason why I am seeking knowledge and understanding.

“It is not what we know that get us into trouble, it is what we think we know that ain’t so” – Mark Twain

Remembering Why you started would propel you to push ahead. We change for two reasons as Anthony Robbins would always say: because of our desire to avoid pain or the desire to gain pleasure.

2. Determine the areas you want to read about/Improve on – Choose themes for the year.

Craft a list of the areas of your life you want to get better at for the year. For example, I am working on getting better with my Finances, Emotional Intelligence, Listening, Communication, Leadership,Writing Skill, Personal Re-Invention and better understanding the world. These are the themes that majority of the books I would be reading for the year would fall under.

3. Start: Just Do It.

” You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great”

The hardest part of starting a journey like this is starting and maintaining the commitment long after you’ve made the commitment. Buy the books, Borrow from friends, Borrow from the Library like have been doing and would continue to do.

4. Have a Time Block for reading

I read on my way to work in the morning (an hour) and also on my way back from work in the evening. On every given day, I read for at least 2 hours that is an average of 10 hours per week, 40 Hours per Month and 480 hours per year which equates to 4.8 hours per Book and that is not even factoring in weekends.

If you dedicate 5 hours per book on a 250 pages book, you would finish it depending on your reading speed.

5. Don’t give room for Excuses

When you set out on a goal like this there would be lots of things that would be distracting you such as naysayers and your mind tricking you that you can not do it. Here are the common excuses I hear from people on why they can’t that much:

I don’t have time but this same people use 2 hours a day to commute to work but they would rather play games or rather watch the latest episode of How to get away with murder or Suits -I also love this Series am a fan of them both but I do time block on Sundays for them lolz.

6. Stay Motivated: Seek out Models

I stay motivated by seeking out models that I admire that love reading such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet. Seek out successful people for their insight about reading, William Gladstone former U.K Prime Minister was said to have read over 20,000 books in his life time.

7. Reduce Distractions : Re-order your priorities

Desperate times cause for Desperate Measures, until you begin to see the areas of your life you are trying to work on as a pain point you would not change and execute your goals.

What you tolerate you can not change

I have deactivated/Deleted majority of my social media accounts (Facebook,Twitter and Instagram) and I only install Whatsapp for one hour per week.

Some of this measures might see extreme but it does not seem that way for me cos I am learning to number my days. The gained back time is what I use to read more books as I don’t prioritize checking messages over figuring out my life and purpose here.

All the best on your quest to get better and reinvent yourself.. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.