Habits aren’t everything.
The ability to cultivate, refine and revise them is, though.
The fifth lever is a good content amplification habit. I think about this in my own work and it feels like pulling teeth to get started, or maybe more like flossing.
That’s why habits are a superpower or a curse. Whatever you do, you reinforce. So you pick a direction and slowly but surely, that’s the direction you’ll go, without fail.
I’m a little obsessed with habit stuff: nudges and sludge, reinforcement, expiration, triggers, routines, rewards, what factors lead up to the “F#$@ its,” all of it.
You can feel really badly about failed habit change or you can take the human experience for what it is, run little experiments on yourself, and have some fun in the process.
Easier said than done, but I really enjoy the latter and run little experiments in my head non-stop.
I’m on my:
- 10th mini experiment refining through from being a non-flosser to a pro-flosser.
- 500th day in a two year process of refining my morning routine
- second approx. three month series of going from being a TV-watcher-to-fall-asleep to a book-reader-to-fall-asleep.
- six month of trying to get a consistent daily writing (publishing) habit down.
On good days, I’m confident I’ll be able to iterate into something I’m excited about for all those things and more.
So I’ve added making good days a habit and extinguishing bad days as a habit another habit goal. The way I start is just by paying attention. If I pay attention I can recognize patterns. If I can recognize patterns I can isolate triggers, processes, rewards, introduce variables to turn the tide.
Doing that has taught me that the number one threat (for me) to cultivating good habits is trying to do too much. Once this starts affecting sleep and adding stress, the willpower I have diminishes just enough that any progress I make on newer habits starts to unravel and I have to “reset” my experiments.
Have you heard this about philosophers? That you define yourself as a philosopher by having a perspective on what ultimately separates man from animal. e.g. Is it the ability to imagine the future? To make decisions?
Similarly, I think when you’re into habit science stuff, your perspective on what tools someone should use to develop a flossing habit defines you as a habits enthusiast.
- B.J. Fogg: start with one tooth
- James Clear: don’t miss twice
- Charles Duhigg: keep an existing cue and reward but replace the routine
- Maneesh Sethi: pair stimulus with reward/punishment
- attributed to “Jerry Seinfeld”: start a streak and don’t break it
- Steve Pavlina: do a 30 day challenge
- Steve Scott: make a plan and make it as easy as possible to execute that plan
The amount of pain you experience when you start flossing in your 30s is pretty bad.
There are lots of ways to overcome a painful process with a reward that leads to reinforcement of a new habit.
But if it takes three minutes of pain to get to a barely noticeable feeling of accomplishment that’s completely overshadowed by the uncontrollable thought of, “wow, I’m starting to get grey hair and I still can’t get it together to floss regularly.”
So I bring my focus back to: what’s the easiest, least painful path to a successful habit, how can I enjoy that experience, and ultimately really enjoy the new habit itself, imagining life after the new habit is established being so damn good that I look forward to it. For me this is what effectively and consistently reinforces a habit change enough to keep it with some ease.
Your daily content routine is just like this.
Introducing a new technology to your business will probably not be a game changer for you. Same with changing what you write about or adding keywords to your posts.
But your daily content routine is almost certainly missing a key ingredient that would ultimately lead to more traffic and compounding sales over time.
Slowly, but surely, adding better and better amplification in to being an uncontested part of your day as easily, painlessly, and in a way that’s exciting for you, would be a game changer.
So for our purposes an amplification habit is the fifth (and maybe final) content lever: adding and refining a working amplification process to your daily content routine.