James Clear is the godfather of the habits movement.
His Atomic Habits book has made people go overboard on the topic. Everywhere you turn some guru is saying “show me your habits bro.”
The brilliance of habits is a lie. Let me show you what truly matters.
No, consistency and repetition don’t make you successful
Consistency is level one of success.
If you don’t keep going with whatever goal you have then obviously you lose. But repeating the same habit over and over and expecting to become as successful as Roger Federer isn’t gonna happen.
I’m sure you’ve met plenty of consistent people. Are they all successful? No.
I remember watching an Australian tv show about inventors. Every week they’d highlight three inventors and their creations.
You couldn’t help but notice how many of the inventors had been creating random, useless stuff for decades that nobody wanted. They’d just sit around waiting for their big break.
Success never happened though because consistency doesn’t create winners. It’s the same lie we see in the corporate world.
Hiring managers and recruiters worship the notion of “experience.”
If you showed up every day for a job in a certain industry for 5+ years then you must be good. You must be guaranteed to do the job better than somebody who has no experience or is in their first year of the same career.
But we all know of an “experienced person” who has one year of experience repeated for ten years in a row. They’re useless.
Many times consistency is ignorance in disguise.
It’s a failure to be self-aware enough to try a different strategy. Consistency is often the ego quietly saying “I’m right.”
A better strategy than consistent habits
The self-help gurus preach habits.
I’ve learned from people like Dan Koe that persistency and iteration matter way more than consistency and repetition.
Persistency and iteration > consistency and repetition
Persistent people think long term (5+ years) and have the patience to keep going. Crucially, they have the fungible, adaptive mind needed to constantly iterate.
Without iteration all you do is practice the same habit over and over expecting different outcomes. That’s the definition of insanity.
Successful people prioritize iteration.
They admit they don’t know what they don’t know. So they use curiosity to explore new options and experimentation to execute and collect data on what works and what doesn’t.
It’s a subtle difference but it’s what most people miss.
The simple path to greatness
The problem with habits is they feel like chores.
You do them because you have to do them, not because you want to. I’ve found that when I practice being persistent and patient, and iterate on a goal I’m obsessed with, everything falls into place.
Obsession is the missing ingredient. When you’re obsessed with a goal you don’t need habit-trackers or reminders from self-help coaches. No.
You just do it like Nike said you should.
Getting to do it becomes the driving force. And the desire to find new ways to make the goal happen becomes fun because you get to use your natural born curiosity to find ways.
So if you’re tired of boring James Clear habits, try this…
Make the timeframe 5+ years
Commit and don’t look back.
Pick a goal you’re obsessed with
If you find yourself automatically spending free time on it that’s a sign.
Break it down into blocks of deep work
Add flow states for full effect.
Schedule these blocks in your calendar to prioritize them
Don’t let anybody (not even your boss) erase this sacred time.
This goal is where your ultimate success and fulfillment will stem from. It’s the best feeling in the world.
Do a weekly deep dive into the results
Notice what the data says. Then iterate so you don’t end up going down the insanity path of repetition with what doesn’t work.
Take calculated risks you little devil
The more imposter syndrome with your goal the more growth.
Growth is what provides automatic motivation to keep going. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Repetition and consistency sound smart.
Until you realize they’re what’s wrong with most people’s goals and explain a lot about why we fail. Mental liquidity that allows for flexible decision-making and actions is what makes all the difference.
Stop humping James Clear’s Atomic Habits book. Practice being persistent for 5+ years and iterating on your goal.