I went through my entire blog to dredge up what I’ve learned, and spent quite a bit of time last night listing out terminology, asking questions, making notes, and doodling graphs.
What I came up with is a model for the whole process of self improvement. See, my view is that self help generally doesn’t look at the entire picture. Either they’re looking at just one habit, or they’re looking at grit, or their looking at daily scheduling. But the real story is larger.
We don’t just want to be people who just eat right. We also want to eat right and exert self control in a dozen different habits. We want them regimented throughout the day, and we want to bust through any plateaus in progress. And we want all this to be happening as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What self help tends to ignore is how all these various projects interact with each other. There are so many examples of this - BJ Fogg has a program of habit formation that’s a few weeks long. That’s not enough to really get the whole story, nor is Lally’s experiments where she just draws the graph further to extrapolate that difficult habits may take up to 250 days. Duhigg’s Power of Habit essentially talks about hacking one habit - not eating donuts at work. You have to do the habits and figure out what happens a year out with other progression involved. And still, it’s not enough.
“Just do the work” and other cliches underscore this undercurrent that self improvement is all about simplicity. With the percentage of people who fail at basic habits and self improvement, this overly simplistic view seems to ring false. Self improvement is highly complicated.
The work of Lally, Duckworth, Baumeister and Verplanken and this movement to scientifically quantify all these …for lack of a better world…soft concepts..that’s all fantastic. But I want to crank it up even more. To me it’s still shocking that there is no accepted Willpower scale.
My goal is create as scientific of a model as I can using the data I can get from myself. I’m going to coin terminology that I think best fits, and keep evolving it. I think creating a technical jargon has immense uses in “soft” arts. It allows our minds to grab hold of concepts. I’m reminded of magic, where (if you really get into it) every twist and turn of the hand has a name - a principle, a theory. And it seems to create a space in your mind - suddenly you’re not just waving your hands, you’re executing a highly defined protocol.
I want the same for this.