One is always greater than Zero.

Something is always better than nothing.

1 > 0.

One of the best advice I ever got to keep hustling every single day is from a great marketer Gary Vaynerchuk:

People will ask me questions like “How do I get into the New York Times?” or “How do I get a meeting with that CEO?”

My reply? One is better than zero.

You need to be thinking about the steps it takes to actually get to the biggest places in the world. Before you get that meeting with Zuckerberg or Mark Cuban, or whoever you want to meet with, you need to have a lot of little meetings. You have to build up your cadence.

I’ve been on Conan. Ellen. The Today Show.

But I also did a thousand interviews that got one or nineteen or 137 views on YouTube. Max. Why did I do blog posts for so long that only had six readers? Why do I guest on shows with a smaller audience base than my own? Because I’m all about depth over width. I want to go deeper with my community. I want to give back to people who support me.

Such a simple thing isn’t it?

Steve Jobs called it Connect the Dots, GaryVee calls it 1 > 0, Malcolm Gladwell calls it 10,000 hoursCal Newport calls it Deep work and many others have different versions.

All of these essentially imply the same thing:

Do the Work (That’s Steven Pressfield, by the way) every single day.

You never know when you might get lucky. But when you do you better be prepared to utilize it completely. Else what’s the use?

These singles might not seem much in the beginning. But in the end it will add up to something bigger. You go to trust that and keep counting the singles every day.

This simple thought actually inspired me to create an habit.

Every single day, before I sleep, I ask myself one question:

How would I count this day, zero or one?

No matter how crappy the day was or how tired I am, if the answer is zero I get out of bed and make sure I make it one before I sleep.

That’s my inspiration! So, what’s keeping you hustling?

 

 

 

I write on every Monday and Thursday on topics such as life hacks, startups, strategies and books. Subscribe if these topics interests you. 🙂

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Habits – The Autopilot of Productivity

I am intrigued by habits and how easy (or tough) it can make our lives. Let’s focus on the easy part now.

You don’t need an alarm to wake you up. — Never have to wake up to the annoying sound.

You don’t need to worry not burning calories. — You put on running shoes as soon as you wake up without throwing any tantrum.

You don’t need to look for your car keys. — You automatically keep them right next to the night stand.

That is, Imagine your life on autopilot.

While habits take care of the routine tasks, you could devote your time and energy on creating the next awesomest thing!

But it is easy for the habits to take over your life.. They are mean machines with superhuman powers.

Have you found yourself in an interesting discussion and when your phone beeps, your hands automatically reaches out to the phone to check the messages?

That’s an habit. I bet you didn’t know that did you?

That’s exactly why you need to understand habits before you can change them.

Cognitive psychologists define habits as “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues”. In other words, see chocolate, eat chocolate. (then may be think about calories).
For those who are a minimalist  (or have a serious obsession with formulae)

Habit = (Cue + Response) x 999*

*yes, 999 is an arbitrary number. I would’ve put a million. But that would’ve been too much effort and you would’ve probably stopped reading further.
That’s why when people claim they can hack in to habit formation, they are usually wrong. I mean, is there a hack to loosing weight other than burning calories? No right?

Well… trying to change a habit is like trying to change a habit. It’s not easy. And there is no right way.

But there is your way.

That brings me to the most important thing you will need to know about habit.

You don’t know your habit even exists!
Huh? Say what?

Yes. Say for example, do you know what exactly you “do”,”think” or “feel” when you hit the snooze button? It is so involuntary that, you hit snooze button x times (three for me and yes I counted) before you get out of the bed. Have you noticed that? If not, try it tomorrow and let me know!

That’s why, I a good way to start a change a old habit (say snoozing) not by not snoozing. But by understanding what you “do” when you snooze.

Self-awareness.

It’s the most interesting exercise in habit formation. ‘Cause it’s like solving a mystery box challenge (MasterChef Australia fans, Up top!). You don’t know what’s in there, till you open the box. And of course when you open it, for a moment you are like is that me? Then you start thinking about points to intervene.
There are two places you can intervene. (By now you should’ve guessed it).

Cue and Response.

So, all you got to do is experiment. There are just 43 ways to do it.

(old habit) Cue and Response
Cue and Response
Cue and Response
Cue and Response (also for new habit)

 Note to Seventh grade self: Yes, it is very similar to a 2 bit binary code.

Once you have figured out which one works. You are just one step away from turning the autopilot mode on.

REPEAT… REPEAT…REPEAT…..

Ok. I didn’t say it was easy.

Now that I have shared my wisdom, let me share my experience. My experience of failing several times and ways I have successfully manage to stay put.
Slack off for a day and it is as good as starting again. But sometimes, you cannot. So (pretend) do the task three times the next day.
You will often want to give up. So, associate the response with a good feeling. (a simple smile worked wonders for me)
Start small and be patient. Habits you are trying to change have been with you for a long time. It is not easy to change it in a day.
That’s it.

By the way, if you want to know if I still wake up late, I do. But, I have been running experiments for the past three weeks studying my sleep pattern, the cue (snoozing alarm three times), the response and actively tweaking them everyday one small step at a time.

FAQs:

How many days does it take to form an habit? As long as it takes for you to not put effort ie. the response is so involuntary (it gets itchy just before it turns involuntary). People usually say it takes 21 days, some say 48 days. Well, to me habit formation is personal.

Can we really change old habits? Duh! But again, it is not easy.

How easy is it to break a habit? Not that easy as you think. How long can you fool your subconscious?

 

 

 

I write on every Monday and Thursday on topics such as life hacks, startups, strategies and books. Subscribe if these topics interests you. 🙂

Habit Decoded

This post is a part of 2-Part Post on Habits and what I learned about them in the month of January 2014 – The Month of Habits.

In the previous post, I explained what I discovered to be the biggest myths about Habits. Today, lets understand what habits are. Lets jump in and decode habit right away. Shall we?

A habit simply put is:

  1. a desired response (which will later become reaction)
  2. to an itch

Sometimes simple things are kinda intimidating aren’t they? Let’s dig in a little bit.

A Response is creating a new set of actions by removing or replacing the usual actions – reactions

A response could be not eating that extra brownie or doing 20 push-ups. The thing about response is it needs something to hold on to for support before it becomes a part of your subconscious system. Just like how we learnt to walk.

And An Itch is what that gives the hold.

An itch can be an already formed habit, a place or time or something that you can have as a reference.

Example – doing push-ups (response) immediately after getting up (itch)

It’s like itch and response have been bitten by a Cupid. They are inseparable until the magic wears off.

But to sustain the magic is not difficult if you:

a) Pay attention to the itch: Sub conscious is quick! First few days you need to make a conscious effort on responding to the trigger but before you know it, it becomes an itch – you can feel the itch at that particular place or time or just after a habit you had fixed to prelude/succeed the new one. Sometimes you will follow the new habit some times you don’t – but the itch will be there for a long time.(for me lasted for 15 days after first three days of conscious trigger)

On the side note: That’s why I call it an itch and not a trigger or cue as used in NLP or power of habits. Though I borrowed ideas from them.

b)Have just one itch: (otherwise the brain gets confused ) It’s important esp during the beginning stages .Another reason is that the references might conflict with each other. Moreover having more than one itch provides a lot of room for failure we don’t want that do we? I mean would you bet on hitting the target at the center for 3 times continuously in the very first attempt? No, right?

So basically, if you have done both you can master any habit in less than 7 days.(I am just putting out a number based on my experience it could be even less than that.)

But, a human is to err. It’s important to know that we err. That way we do not get trapped in failures.

I am going to reserve the discussion on habit formation for the next post.

The platform is all yours now :), have you discovered something about habit or share a similar view, do share it! 

Bonus: If you would like to test your subconscious, before you sleep make a conviction to get up at a particular time. Trust the system, don’t switch on the alarm. You will wake up during that time (give or take a 5-10 mins). But, you have to pick yourself out of bed though ;).

What You Don’t Know about Habits!

This post is a part of two-part post on habits and what I learned about them in the month of January 2014 – The Month of Habits.

January is usually a month that is famous for New Year resolutions. On the flip side, it is also notorious for breaking resolutions as well. Usually, my January would be no different. I write down a bunch of resolutions and break almost all of them in less than 15 days. But this time I was determined to not have New Years resolution at all. Instead, I wanted to focus on Habits.

There are too many things I discovered about habits, myself and how to form one. To benefit those interested in this quest, I present to you a 3-part post on habit. In this post I will talk about things that we usually overlook when it comes to habit.

Biggest Myths about Habits.

  1. Habit is not a goal: For a really long time, for me habit was a goal. Be it cycling or learning Spanish. I wanted to learn for 2 hours everyday for 21 days. I did do them. But on 21’st day I was too elated to have “completed” the habit, that I never continued on 22nd, 23rd or 24th day. Goals need to be completed. Habits are never complete, it is continuous process.
  2. Habit is not physical:Most of what has got to do with Habit and Habit formation is not physical. It’s mental, to be exact it runs in the sub-conscious part of our brain. Right from the need to snooze the alarm to reaching out to grab one more chocolate. Habit is all those unconscious decisions we make that impact our lives.
  3. Habit is about setting a support system: Habit is easily misunderstood as an individual element. But, most of the habits are part of a whole. They build the support system that helps you reach mastery. For example, meditation itself is not a goal, but it puts things into perception.Creating that environment where we can build mastery.
  4. Habit is constantly changing: Habit is constantly changing, because the support system is different for different activities. Based on how we are wired, writing 30 minutes every morning to become a great blogger need not be same for a budding novelist who is at his creative peek in the night.
  5. Habit reveals a lot about your inner-engineering: Habits reveals a lot about what ticks you and what doesn’t. For example, some are early risers, some burn the midnight oil and both of them could be excellent artists. But, both of them are very different in terms of what ticks them. For a early riser, creativity might happen in a quite place. Habits explain a lot of surprising things about you. For example I found out that no matter how hard I try 2-4PM is my least creative time of the day. Meaning, to be more productive I would shift my creative period to some other time.

Habit governs a lot of things and getting an insight into our habits – both conscious and subconscious gives us a lot of opportunities to do best work in the time we have on earth.

In the next post, I will talk about what habits are made of.