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Julian Terenzio

You Suck at Forming Good Habits (But So Do I)

Forming good habits is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.


Photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash

The Hard Truth

Congrats! You just clicked on yet another blog post about forming good habits. Let me hit you with the cold truth — you ready?

You, my fellow human, suck at forming good habits (and I do too!).

But, I think it could be easier.

I was sent into a self-reflective spiral when I learned that automatic habits account for ~45% of our daily reported activities. When we think about who we want to be, are we just writers that rarely write, athletes that rarely train, or entrepreneurs that never start a business? Learning to get out of your own way is likely the key to living an intentional life. It’s not crazy to think that the things you do today are the inputs for who you’ll become tomorrow.

But why is it so damn hard to do those things? Most of us want to live fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, you’re not special for thinking that, nor does life owe you anything either. Whether you’re writing, working, building, or training, there are constant distractions trying to push you off course. We’ve all fallen victim to mid-day doomscrolling or mindless re-watching of The Office.

What I do know is that there should be a better tool that solves a clear problem: forming new habits is hard. And breaking bad habits is even harder.

But friends, there is hope. I’d call the tool, Habitwise.io — a habit-building tool that’s “designed to be deleted” (similar to Hinge).

Habitwise Landing Page Habitwise Landing Page

Daily Habits = Trying to Be “Consistently Good”

Steph Smith puts this hope into words in her blog post, How to Be Great? Just Be Good, Repeatably. Steph thinks you should develop habits that simply make you “good” and repeat them over time. The argument is to stop looking for “greatness.” Just understand what habitual inputs lead to favourable outputs and keep plugging away in that direction. It’s an iterative process. You’re going to fail. But by being consistently “good” and re-aligning your trajectory when necessary, “you’ll soon be beating out the 50% that quit at X time, the 75% that quit at Y time, and the 90% that quit at Z time.”

Habitwise Landing Page

It’s like how 30 minutes of reading a day equates to 1,000 books read in 50 years. Same idea. You can “aspire to be an avid reader” (being “great”) or you can just read for ~3% of your waking day (being “good” repeatedly).

In being consistent over time, you become the outlier. Remember: great is just good, but repeatable.

— Steph Smith, author of How to Be Great? Just Be Good, Repeatably.

Habitwise Landing Page

Science-Based Habit Formation: The Huberman Lab Podcast

If you’re still reading and you haven’t heard of The Huberman Lab Podcast, you have some listening to do. Dr. Andrew Huberman is the GOAT health and fitness podcaster. He manages to dissect complex research papers and present science-based tools for everyday life. Modern-day research tells us that you can train your brain to engage in “procedural memory” to better form habits. All you have to do is mentally construct and write down the actions and feelings you will experience, (1) before you start, (2) as your completing, and (3) following the habit. Some other studies show that pushing yourself to engage in 6 daily habits for a 21-day challenge will achieve a level of “context independence” that wires your brain to consistently engage in a habit no matter the context of the day. Some leading research also shows that habits should be assigned to Phase 1, Phase 2, or Phase 3 of your day. Each phase aligns with a different metabolic state — some habits are better formed at different times of day.

The podcast is amazing. You learn more about applying science-based tools to your own life than in any class you’ve ever taken. There needs to be a tool that is actually science-based with education at the core of the product.

Habitwise Landing Page

Adopting a “Craftsman Mindset” to Get Shit Done

Ok, last point. Most of us want to form good habits to reach a goal — in work or in life. Here’s a storyline that’s not mainstream: the advice to “follow your passion” could be terrible advice. In the book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport thinks that passion for your work is rare, it takes time to develop, and is a side-effect of mastery. Focusing on working right by gaining valuable skills (through habits) could be more important than trying to find the right work grounded in a passion that is abstract and untested. I love making a bomb carbonara pasta, and I have a mild addition to cooking shows, but I’m not really “passionate” about cooking. The chef willing to toil in a kitchen for 16 hours a day and serve you that perfect plate of risotto is someone passionate about cooking. A craftsman is someone that dedicates consistent time to a practice when others are simply unwilling to do the same.

“If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an acceptable level.”

— Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You

It may not be easy to show up every day to a dedicated practice at first. The Fastic app executes perfectly on this idea. It is the best intermittent fasting and dieting app on the market right now — it makes sure you show up every day to track your fast and provides tons of resources to teach you about fasting. I think a habit-building app should do the same with science-based tools and ensures you have a community of close friends to keep you accountable.

Habitwise Landing Page

Humble Last Thoughts

Listen — I know I just ranted about the actions that can lead to forming good habits, but I suck at this. I was deep in a Twitter thread about nuclear power plants for over an hour last night. I sometimes stare at my shoes for 15 minutes experiencing existential angst and playing willpower ping-pong before deciding whether or not to go on a run. I fail to live up to a lot of these ideas a lot of the time. And I can’t be the only one. Most productivity or habit-forming apps are more distracting than helpful. And I think Habitwise could be a potential solution —as an app that’s “designed to be deleted.”

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

— James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits”

Maybe I’ll build a product like this someday — maybe not. But hey, if this idea resonates with you, I’d love to see the app launch. And if you’re interested in the “habitwise.io” domain name, please feel free to reach out 😉

Thanks for reading :) You can learn more about me here.