Superhuman by Habit - by Tynan

Your results will be commensurate with the consistency to which you execute your habits, not to the magnitude of their one-time impact. The practical implications of this are twofold. First, be conservative when sizing your new habits. Second, you should be very scared to fail to execute a habit, even once. By failing to execute, potentially you're not just losing a minor bit of progress, but rather threatening the cumulative benefits you'd accrue by establishing a habit. So make your habits relatively easy, but never miss doing them.

Absolutely Never Skip Twice. When you first miss a habit, the next occurrence of it should become a top priority. You must execute on that habit at any level possible. Do it perfectly if you can, but do it terribly if that's all you can handle. Just make sure that you do it. Plan your day around the habit for the next day. Rather than say, "Okay, I'm definitely going to do it tomorrow", decide specifically when you're going to do it, and come up with solutions to problems in advance, particularly whatever problem stopped you from executing in the first place.

When planning a variance, make it concrete, black and white, and specify exactly when the variance will end. For example, instead of doing your regular gym routine while traveling through Europe, you commit to do twenty pushups every morning, and then as soon as you return home, resume your normal routine.

Take Pride in Process, Not in Results.


The core skill required for choosing habits, as well as for staying on track once a habit is implemented, is the ability to be brutally honest with oneself. The first phase of habits, countering your weaknesses, makes you the best version of yourself. Exploring areas that "just aren't you" are how you expand how you define yourself and take things to the next level. You become more rounded and versatile, but you also find connections between various habits.

It's Always Your Fault. Not everything is actually your fault, but by assuming it is, you give yourself an opportunity to take responsibility for the future by coming up with a plan to change things. You also over-correct for the bias we all have against believing we are responsible for negative outcomes.

You'll get the greatest compliance by maximizing frequency and minimizing intensity. Daily habits are hard to overlook or miss, and low intensity habits are easy to complete. This combination greatly increases your chances of sticking with a habit. Start small, become consistent, and increase at a manageable pace. That's how you optimize for the finish line, rather than the starting line.

Whenever you begin a new habit, you should think about what its trigger is going to be, and to commit to that.

Chaining Habits. A very good practice is to think about all of the things that absolutely must get done in a day, and work them into chains. Unless the order actually matters, the easiest habits should be loaded up front, and the most difficult ones should be last. This ensures that you maximize the benefit of momentum as you move through your chain. Moving through your chain, even once it becomes routine and ordinary, is very satisfying. You know that it will accomplish the major requirements of your day, yet it becomes so automatic that it feels effortless. It's through this process that habits give you freedom-- chains take care of the necessities of life, and leave you with time and willpower to make forward progress.

When appropriate, sacrifice your maintenance habits in favor of keeping up your loading habits. You might let your diet slip, because you've been on it for years, but make a point of writing five-hundred words every day because that's a new habit that hasn't gotten a toehold yet. Maintenance habits will very quickly slip back into place on the chain when you're able to return to it, but I've found loading habits to feel like big impositions and sometimes completely fall off.

Real change is the product of motivation, either prompted by a problem in life or through analysis of one's goals. When you adopt a new habit and try to convince others to do the same, they're skipping the stage of discovering or building that motivation. Without it, they'll give up when the going gets tough, feel bad about it, possibly resent you for succeeding at it, and be ever so slightly less inclined to create other new habits. By trying to help them, you may be doing them a disservice. On the other hand, quietly building habits on your own without pushing them on your friends will expose them to new tools that they can use in their own lives when the time is right.


  • Positivity Towards Others. Whenever you find yourself thinking poorly of someone or in some sort of conflict with someone, force yourself to say to yourself, "Remember that this person is just doing their best and trying to be happy, just like me."

  • Traveling to Unusual Countries. Make a goal of a certain number of new places to visit per year, block out the time for it way in advance, and book at least one part of the trip early enough to commit to it. When choosing the places to go, choose places that are radically different from those with which you're familiar. There is also a lot of value in going back to places you've already visited, rather than constantly going to new places. I personally like a 50/50 mix, but as long as there are some new places in the mix, I think any ratio is fine.

  • Writing Daily. Write a prescribed amount every day. I find it easiest to assign myself to write a single blog post every day, but you could also choose a word count. When I'm writing a book I set my word count at 4000-7000 words per day, but 500 per day is plenty for blogging. You'll get additional benefit from your habit if you post it to a blog. My habit is to write every day of the week and then post the best two to my blog. I've created a blogging platform called Sett which helps you get an audience for your writing, so if you create a free blog there you'll have in audience for your writing instantly.

  • Seek Out Masterpieces. Once per week, two weeks, or month, make the time to go see masterpieces. A masterpiece is anything made by someone who is an expert in their craft. Obvious choices are art museums, symphony performances, and operas, but I'd extend the category to include stuff like factory tours of impressive companies. For my own habit, I also include going into nature.

  • Pushing Your Comfort Zone. This habit works best with the specific trigger of thinking, "I'd like to do _, but I'm too scared/nervous". For it to properly work, you must be able to be honest with yourself, as discussed earlier. Many people will convince themselves that they're not actually scared, they're just busy or not really interested, and will give themselves a pass. Whenever you have that feeling of wanting to do something, but being too nervous, you should immediately think, "Okay, now I have to do it." Then, of course, you take the first step and go do it. This habit is also a classic example of focusing on the process rather than the outcome. When loading this habit, you should do it every single time you have the impulse not to. Only by doing that will you be able to expand your comfort zone when it's really difficult to do so.

  • Twice, Then Quit. When you want to quit working for the first time, don't. Push through and work some more. The second time you want to quit, also don't quit. Push through again. The third time you want to quit, go ahead and quit. We want to maximize all of the use of our time, not just the time we spend producing. When you push through twice but still want to quit, you can be confident that you gave it a solid effort and that you need a little bit of time off before tackling the problem again. That lack of ambiguity erases unnecessary guilt. The trigger for twice, then quit, should be feeling exhausted, being unable to focus on the work at hand, or feeling like you're not able to muster the effort towards creating high quality work.

  • Plan When Stuck. This habit is triggered by procrastinating, asking yourself if you know exactly what you should be doing next, and failing to come up with a definite answer. Whenever that happens, simply set a clock for thirty minutes, and begin planning. It's often easiest to start with a very long term vision. Why do you want this goal? What exactly does success look like? A path exists between your current position and almost any goal, but it can only be found if you know what that goal is, and look from a high enough altitude. Begin to imagine what those paths would look like. Take yourself out of the equation, and think of how someone else might find success. What would his major waypoints be along the way? Get out a piece of paper and rotate it into landscape mode, so that the long edge is facing you. On the right hand side, write down the end goal. If you're not exactly sure, write down whatever comes to mind. Working back from the right side, write waypoints in chronological order. So things that will have to happen sooner are further towards the left. Finally, use the left hand side as an immediate overloaded todo list. Write down anything you could do next, regardless of whether or not it's the best option available to you. Keep at this for a full twenty minutes or so.

You've now drawn a messy and imprecise map of your path towards your goal. Take the final ten minutes of your planning session to read through everything you've written, and try to see the threads that stretch across the page. Which goal do you want most? Which waypoints are you confident on? Which immediate actions could you do an amazing job at? Only at this stage should you consider crossing things off. You've given your brain the freedom to unload everything it's got, so now you can curate. The goal isn't to figure out the one true path to success, but rather to understand what you're up against. It's this context that allows you to look at your immediate todo items and choose the best, or one of the best, to attack next.