Insights at the Edge: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results with James Clear

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tiny changes remarkable results james clear tami simon sounds true

James Clear is an expert on how to develop good habits and break bad ones.

The creator of Habits Academy, James has engaged in a deep study of the research on habit formation and offers four “points of intervention” you can use to help create or break any habit.

If you want a good new habit to stick, he suggests that you make it: obvious (visible), attractive (enticing), easy (convenient), and satisfying (rewarding).

And if you want to break a bad habit, he suggests that you invert these four suggestions and make your bad habit invisible (out of sight), unattractive (unappealing), difficult (inconvenient/filled with friction), and unsatisfying (unrewarding).

In this podcast, James uses his model to talk us through how to create a new habit that I think many of us wish was part of our life: regular exercise. And then I use myself as a guinea pig (once again), and ask James to help me break a bad habit: nail-biting.

James and I also discuss:

  • The relationship between deep inner work and habit change, and how they can enhance each other
  • The importance of “implementation intentions” and how when you specifically state when and where you are going to perform a behavior, you are two to three times more likely to follow through
  • Engaging in a regular self-assessment of what James calls an “Integrity Report” to make sure your habits are aligned with your deepest values
  • The truth about how many days it really takes to create a new habit



Toward the end of our conversation, I asked James to share his view on the three most rewarding habits any person can develop.

The first habit he shared didn’t surprise me (regular exercise), but the other two habits certainly did.

According to James, the second most rewarding habit we can develop is the habit of putting our thoughts into writing and sharing that writing with others. James commented, “We live in an age of almost infinite leverage where so many people are connected on the Internet. Writing is probably the best form of networking that we have in the world.”

And the third most rewarding habit: Leave your smartphone in another room when you are working (no further explanation needed).

Before talking to James, I wasn’t that interested in habit change (it felt like a behavior change approach, more about making surface-level changes than investigating our motivations and deeper dimensions of our psychology). However, once again, the Sounds True podcast has broadened my perspective! James opened my eyes to the value of combining an intelligent and proven approach to habit change along with introspection and inquiry to create the kinds of results we most value.

With love on the journey,

Tami Simon
Founder and Publisher, Sounds True

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