Stephen Guise – Elastic Habits
These flexible habits are just as easy to form as a mini habit, but with 3x the results (or more). To explain how and why this is possible, here’s a hypothetical scenario involving my greatest fear in the world… bears.
Imagine you’re trail running in the woods, trying to set a new personal best time. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a large brown object moving towards you with great speed. And now it’s upon you. You gaze up in horror at a roaring mother grizzly bear. What do you do?
Continue running (adrenaline boost!)
Tackle the bear
Call out “Jumanji”
Go ahead and play dead. It gives you the best chance of surviving a grizzly attack. But if you treated this situation as we are taught to treat goals and habits, you wouldn’t have that option. You’d have just one option, because most goals and habits are unchanging. So here’s your one option.
1. Continue running (certain death)
You had a plan (trail running), but your environment changed (momma bear). Whenever that happens, you must adapt to the unexpected situation for the best result. In the case of a bear attack, it can save your life. In the case of behavior change, it can save your habits.
This concept doesn’t only apply in a negative way, either. There will be times in which a situation is more favorable than anticipated, in which case, adapting to seize the opportunity is in your best interest. But if you follow any other habit book’s advice, they will tell you to do the same thing every day, to be inflexible.
The Result of Static Habits
If your static habit is small, you’ll achieve remarkable consistency (mini habits). But on days in which you can do more, it will feel (and possibly be) wrong to aim for something that easy. Over time, this may frustrate you.
If your static habit is large, you’ll have occasional big wins, but whenever life sends you a figurative grizzly bear, you’ll fail and your habit may die young.
Small habits are the best choice if you choose to form a static habit, but here’s why you shouldn’t.
The Power of Elastic Habits
No two days are the same. By making your habits elastic, you can adapt your aim to conquer every unique day of your life. You will still be surprised by the crazy happenings of life, no doubt, but you will no longer be unprepared for them.
Elastic habits give you an answer for every situation. They destroy excuses naturally, by saying, “Okay. How about doing this instead?” If normal habits are a hammer, elastic habits are your grandfather’s garage, a magical place with a tool for every need. It’s not a burden to have a hammer, a wrench, and a screwdriver—you simply select the one you need for the job.
In this book, you’ll find a comprehensive framework of elasticity for habit building. Elastic materials are stronger than rigid, brittle materials because they can adapt to pressure. The same is true for habits. Any dread or sense of monotony you’ve felt about forming habits will disappear, because this system is dynamic and exciting.
Your elastic habits can survive threats and thrive in favorable circumstances. There’s no downside because they’re simply a smarter version of the habits we typically try to form.