Breaking Bad & Building Good Habits—with James Clear – EP97

 In Podcast

Why is it so hard to incorporate new, healthy habits into our lives? Why is it even more difficult to eliminate bad ones? The problem is, we are wired to make decisions based on immediate reward. Bad habits provide this instant gratification, while the reward of good habits is based in the future. Is there a way to shift the balance and give ourselves an immediate reward for doing the right thing? Or build in a cost to making a poor choice?




James Clear is the author of New York Times bestseller Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones and the creator of The Habits Academy, an elite training platform for building better habits in your business and personal life. His work has been featured in Entrepreneur, TIME and on CBS This Morning, among many other national media outlets. James also happens to be a talented travel photographer and accomplished weightlifter.

Today, James joins us to explain how results serve as a lagging indicator of the habits that preceded them. He walks us through the four stages of the Habit Loop, describing the crucial role craving plays in appreciating the individual response to a particular cue. James also discusses the elimination of bad habits, offering advice around restructuring your environment and putting space between you and temptation. Listen in for insight on aligning an immediate reward with your long-term goals and learn the best strategies to make healthy habits a part of your new normal!

Topics Covered

[0:56] How habit-forming leads to a better life

  • Habits play central role in outcomes
  • ‘You get what you repeat’
[3:16] Why systems are more important than goals

  • Goals afford clarity, direction
  • More useful to spend energy on process
[5:32] The percentage of daily actions that are habits

  • 40-50% of behavior automatic, unconscious
  • Much higher percentage influenced by habit
[8:26] The spectrum of conscious to unconscious habit

  • Repetition leads to muscle memory
  • As fluency increases, more unconscious
[10:49] James’ take on how long it takes to build habits

  • Based on frequency vs. time elapsed
  • Not finish line to cross but lifestyle to live
[14:05] The four stages of the Habit Loop

  1. Cue
  2. Craving
  3. Response
  4. Reward
[19:33] How to build in an immediate cost or reward

  • Lock in future behavior with commitment device
  • Align immediate reward with long-term goal
[22:04] How to handle tradeoffs (i.e.: sleep vs. workout)

  • Get clarity around overall identity
  • ‘What does my body need today?’
  • Reduce scope but stick to schedule
[27:08] How to choose the first habit to implement

  • Identify keystone habit that pulls rest in line
  • ‘What do I do when days go well?’
[31:03] James’ advice on starting a meditation routine

  • Set an implementation intention (plan when/where)
  • Scale down to just one minute in beginning
  • Stack on top of current habit (e.g.: morning coffee)
[34:33] The value in priming your environment

  • Make new habit convenient, frictionless
  • Can be digital or physical
[35:52] James’ insight on eliminating bad habits

  • Restructure environment so not as easy
  • Reduce exposure (i.e.: unfollow food blogs)
[40:13] The concept of habit stacking bad with good

  • Create space between you and temptation
  • Example to drink water before soda
[42:50] Why it’s useful to analyze your cravings

  • Understand motives puts in position to resolve
  • Must be willing to experiment with substitution
[46:02] James’ top strategy on where to start

  • Employ 2-minute rule
  • Master art of showing up
[47:35] How to offset the all-or-nothing mentality

  • ‘Never miss twice’
  • Start new streak asap

Learn More About James Clear

James’ Website

James on Facebook

James on Instagram

James on Twitter

The Habits Academy


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

Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg


Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment