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On Habits

On 21, Jan 2014 | No Comments | In Productivity | By Daniel Kao

Human behavior is oftentimes nothing more than a collection of habits.

Whether it be everyday routines or reactions in emergencies, the pattern of habit can ultimately explain most physical, emotional, and spiritual behaviors.

Waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth is a habit (maybe it isn’t for some people), so is your response when your roommate jumps on you to wake you up in the morning.

Habits can be formed or broken consciously or unconsciously. Habits form because the brain is always looking for ways to take shortcuts and save time and energy.

Gretchen Rubin explains it extremely well in this presentation at 99u.

The short answer is that everyone has different tendencies to build or break habits, and understanding yourself is an extremely powerful way to understanding where you belong.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’m giving away a copy of The Power of Habit this month!

photo credit: ルーク.チャン.チャン via photopin cc

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In Life

By Daniel Kao

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

On 30, Dec 2013 | 2 Comments | In Life | By Daniel Kao

Millions of people make New Years resolutions.

How many of us can say that they have ever been aware of the resolution for a whole year? (I’ll let you answer that one)

The vast majority of New Years resolutions don’t make it past the first week. Why is that?

Taking it another step further, when it comes to any kind of life change, I started wondering what the characteristics of an effective life change is. In essence, a life change is a change in personal habits. Habits are a huge part of a person’s daily life, perspective, and growth. Thus, learning how to develop and maintain habits is a huge part of maintaining a New Year’s resolution.

Pulling from people like BJ Fogg and his “tiny habits” psychology and “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, Habits are formed through a trigger, a routine, and a reward. Thus, the different levels of difficulty, frequency, and level of these three attributes will contribute to whether a habit is effectively kept or not.

When a habit has a frequent trigger as well as a simple routine that provides high reward, that’s when a habit is most easily created.

In 2012, my resolution was to not complain. I approached it by keeping it in the front of my mind. whenever I felt inclined to complain about a situation, I would remember my resolution either before or while I was complaining to someone. It worked because the trigger was everyday normal conversations and the routine was simply to shut up.

The other thing that was powerful about that resolution was identifying the reward. In my case, I had developed reasons to why I wouldn’t complain. I had personally decided that a positive outlook was more powerful in life, and that I could achieve that by not complaining about the bad things, but focusing on growing.

My new year’s resolution for 2014: Listen more, talk less.

This one has a similar routine to the one I developed in 2012, as all I am doing is intentionally making an effort to listen more when people talk.

I’m doing this because I’ve spent much of the last couple years trying to give advice to anyone who has come to me with questions, trying to empower them with principles and solutions.

It’s worked to an extent, but it hasn’t always worked well.

I’ve come to the realization that advice is not terribly effective. You can teach a bunch of theory, but the most powerful way to help someone grow is to guide someone through something that you’ve gone through yourself. Thus, sometimes the power isn’t in what you say, but simply who you are.

If your life truly is the message, then sometimes being comfortable in your own skin means to stop hiding behind a bunch of words.

So there. That’s my resolution for 2014. What’s yours?

photo credit: memories_by_mike via photopin cc

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The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg Thoughts

On 15, Jan 2013 | No Comments | In Productivity | By Daniel Kao

It’s only been a couple of weeks since I read this book, but many of the principles are becoming pretty evident.

Learning how to make and break habits is a very powerful thing. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.

Habits are made up of a three step loop, the cue, the routine, and the reward.

The cue is what prompts the routine. Generally, cues are divided into five different categories: location, time, emotional state, other people, or an immediately preceding action. The routine then, is the set of actions that a person executes as a response to the cue. And finally, the reward is the feeling or result of performing the routine.

Understanding how to take control of the habit loop is they way to build new habits or change existing ones. Reading this book made me even more aware of habits I never thought of. Toothbrushing only became a regular practice when the minty, refreshing flavor was introduced, leveraging the reward of brushing your teeth. Many little habits form a person’s behavior, whether they realize it or not.

Reading this book made me realize how passion alone is not enough. While structure is something that can become dry or ineffective without passion, the most effective people use passion in order to intentionally create structure in the form of habits in order to achieve their passion. And when the habit is formed, people can use those habits to their advantage without even thinking about it.

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