One of the hardest things to do in life is creating new habits. But to experience change, you need to change your habits. Habits are the core to change. So how do you develop new good habits and end the bad ones? Gretchen Rubin explains how you can form new habits in a bestseller Better Than Before.
She explains the strategies that one can use to form new habits. The Better Than Before summary below will help you understand what this book is all about and why you should read it.
To be able to shape your habits successfully, you must first find yourself. This is because habit formation is a private affair and what works for one person will not work for the other. To form a habit, you need to meet the expectations set. These expectations can be from external forces (like work, relationships, obeying laws, etc.) or they are internal expectations, for instance, to stop sleeping a lot.
People different differently to the set expectations and they can be categorized into four according to Gretchen. These are; the questioner, upholder, obliger and the rebel. The upholder responds readily to internal and external expectations, the questioner of course questions everything, the rebel resists everything, and the obliger responds well to external expectations but not internal ones.
Now since people are met with different expectations and respond differently to the expectations, different solutions are required for different people. When you are able to pinpoint who is accurately, you will be able to form new lasting habits.
PILLARS OF HABITS
Many strategies can help you form habits. However, Gretchen indicates in this part of the book that there are four highly effective strategies that you can use. These strategies are; monitoring, scheduling, foundation and accountability. Here Gretchen indicates what habits work for the four types of people identified in self-knowledge. For instance, scheduling doesn’t work with rebels.
Monitoring – it is a great strategy that doesn’t require you to change anything, but it will bring change in the end. You just have to monitor what you are doing so you can manage your actions.
Foundation – most people who want to change habits, start with changing habits that do not bring much reward for the effort. Gretchen advises that you should start with the habits that directly strengthen self-control. These are the habits she calls foundational habits.
Scheduling – when you schedule you set a specific activity to occur at a set time which quickly becomes a habit. When you do something over and over, it becomes a habit, and this is easy with scheduling.
Accountability – scheduling goes hand in hand with accountability. You must follow up and live with the consequences of not sticking to what was planned. When you feel that someone is watching you, you are bound to behave which is what accountability achieves.
THE BEST TIME TO BEGIN
This part of the book talks about going forward and forming new habits to expel the bad ones. You do not have to wait until you feel like you ready to start. Any beginning for habit formation will do just fine. This part explores three strategies that will help you begin forming new habits.
First steps – do not wait for a perfect time. Start now and get it going and you will be halfway there. Begin now regardless of how hard this first step will be.
Clean slate – many people take the New Year or a birthday as a new slate. However, you can get a new slate from just about anything. You do not have to wait for significant or big changes in life to get a fresh slate for forming new habits. Even the very minor changes are enough, and you can even create your new slate today because hey, it’s a new day!
Lightning bolt – sometimes you can change your habits in an instant. Just like that. This is called the lightning bolt. This can happen when something happens to you and ignites that instant change. It could be a divorce, losing a loved one, a walk alone, an accident, hitting bottom and many other things.
DESIRE, EASE AND EXCUSES
Forming habits is hard. It is not easy, and therefore you need to have some strategies that make you want to go on. You can use rewards, treats and pairing focus on exploiting pleasure to keep you on track and make the journey to forming new habits exciting. Temptations will be there, but you should have strategies to help you entirely abstain.
Avoid having to make excuses and justifications because that means you have failed. The strategies discussed in this part are; abstaining, convenience, inconvenience, safeguards, loophole-spotting, distraction, reward, treats and pairing.
UNIQUE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE
You can learn more about yourself by comparing yourself to others. Everyone is unique in their own way. Comparing yourself to others can help you identify your values, interests and temperaments. This chapter discusses three important strategies;
Clarity – what do you do when two seemingly important values conflict? For instance, you want to work while at the same time give your all to your family. Without clarity, you will be conflicted on what to do and how to form your habits. Amazingly you will find that with clarity you can easily do both.
Identity – sometimes your identity causes conflicts with a habit you are trying to form. You need to find out what you want and go for it without thinking about other things like your culture, religion or beliefs.
Other People – you need to relate with other people who will help you form new habits and improve you.
What I Like About The Book
The book is well written and very easy to understand. The tone is friendly and not condescending so you do not have to feel bad about yourself than you might already be feeling. I like that the book is actionable and easy to implement if you are looking for an immediate change.
You can easily take the strategies in the book and use them in your daily life to start forming habits even before you have read the book to the end.
Why You Should Read The Book
Breaking bad habits and forming new good ones is really hard especially without a guide. This book will guide you through how you can be able to do exactly that and quite quickly.
Many people who have read the book report seeing positive change even before they finished reading it. If you have been looking for a book that can give you change and quickly then this is it.