Replied to Building in the habit

It has been a year of building new, healthy habits, and I managed to do this during the busiest school year I’ve ever had. For the coming school year, I hope that I can keep the good habits going!

David, I have tried to form a habit of daily reflections. I like your point about it being a ‘pastime’ and a personal ‘script’:

Writing is a pastime that I enjoy. It isn’t work, it is my television… except that I’m the script writer. Reading is a pastime that I love, but my eyes fatigue easily and audio books provide a great opportunity to continue to learn from books.

I have really enjoyed your Daily Ink series and hope you manage to continue it in some way.

Replied to

I found Clear really interesting in some of the pieces he has done associated with Atomic Habits, would you recommend it? What has been your biggest takeaway?
Bookmarked What Marathons and School Have in Common: repeated choices. – Joel Speranza (Joel Speranza)

A student hasn’t been applying themselves in class. They and their parents come to the parent teacher interview. The student, in that moment makes a choice:

“I’m going to work really hard in class, do all my homework and start studying early for my exam. I’m going to be a model student”.

The student feels good, they have a plan. The parents are appeased, the student has chosen to turn it around. The teacher rolls their eyes. You’ve heard this before.

This student isn’t lying to you. In that moment this student really wants to turn it around. But what they don’t realise is that turning it around doesn’t take one choice. It takes many choices. Made over a long period of time.

Joel Speranza explains how larger choices are in fact a series of smaller choices combined. He provides a number of strategies to support this:

  • Record their “big choice”, write it down somewhere. Even better, film them telling you about their big choice.
  • Discuss how many “little choices” they are going to have to make in service of their big choice.
  • Remind them of their little choices when they come into class each day. Or when they forget their homework that night. (I use a Microsoft form in my OneNote that students fill in each day with their intentions for the lesson)
  • Keep a running tally of the choices they make. You could do it for them or they could do it themselves. Seeing these choices build up over the term makes it easier to see the end goal.

This reminds me James Clear’s discussion of making and breaking habits.

Listened CM 131: James Clear on Making and Breaking Habits

Whether we want to adopt good habits or avoid bad ones, we need to think beyond willpower or setting bigger goals. Instead, James Clear, author of the book, Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, argues that the secret is designing a system of small, repeatable habits. He challenges us to ask ourselves, “How can we make these small changes that we layer on top of each other – these little 1% improvements or tiny advantages – and in the process of integrating them all into a larger system, end up making some really remarkable progress?”

Through compelling stories and brain research, James teaches us how to design game-changing habits and sustainable systems. In addition, he shares ways we can leverage environmental factors and addictive tendencies to our advantage. Finally, he helps us see how a commitment to daily habits leads to the identity we seek: “Every action you take is like a vote for the person that you want to become. Doing one push up or writing one sentence or reading one page, it’s not going to transform you right away. But it does cast a vote for being that kind of person, for reinforcing that kind of identity.”

James Clear talks with Gayle Allen about his new book Atomic Habits. Some of the take-aways from the conversation were:

  • The most important aspect to behaviour change is identity
  • Four stages to a habit: Cue, craving, response, reward/outcome
  • A high level framework involves making habits obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. If you are trying to break a habit, then invert this.
  • If you want a habit to be a part of your life, make it a part of your environment.
  • We need habits of action, rather than motion. This is about showing up.

I think that this book would have a lot of implications for education and change.

I took my daughter’s to the city twice this weekend. In part it was to celebrate (or mourn) the end of the school holidays – ironically, I have been back for two weeks. But it was also to give my wife space and time to get her Masters work done. I often take the girls into the city, but this time was different as the youngest was without nappies and a stroller.

This should be a joyous occasion. No more changing bums or pushing the stroller. However, there was a part of me that felt somehow out of whack. These habits have become a part of my everyday life. Like all habits, I am happy to change when needed and often push myself to do so, but the connection with identity is an odd one. A colleague recently highlighted this when she asked whether persisting with certain routines involving others was in fact for me. Although I don’t think I persisted with nappies etc for my own sake, it does leave me thinking.

Bookmarked The 7 Habits: Begin With the End in Mind | The Art of Manliness (The Art of Manliness)

Instead of thinking of mission statements as just a list of ideals, Covey suggests thinking of them like a constitution for a government. Back in my law school days when I wrote legal memos for attorneys, I’d have to lay out the law that governed the case I was writing about. Every time I did so, I had to make, at least in passing, a reference to the U.S. Constitution because the Constitution is the source of all law in the United States. Even if it was a state issue, I referenced the U.S. Constitution (Article 10, baby). With every legal decision, I turned to the Constitution first.

Brett and Kate McKay discuss Covey’s habit of ‘Starting with the end in mind’ and what this might mean for the individual.

They map out three steps to creating your own mission statements:

  • Step 1: Block off uninterrupted time
  • Step 2: Prioritize your roles in life
  • Step 3: Define the purpose of each role

The authors explain that this is about process as much as it is about product. For me it is about intent.

This is a useful resource alongside Adrian Camm’s steps to developing a learning vision.