Making Your Brain Your Ally

Making Your Brain Your Ally

Taking the first step towards doing something is oftentimes the most difficult part. You find a way of putting it off, finding reasons to justify starting a day later.

Our brains are vying for the path of least resistance. Often that's doing nothing, rather than doing something.

James Clear's bestselling book, Atomic Habits, introduces the idea of habit-stacking, tacking on a new habit to an existing one to reduce the mental effort of starting.

You need to go a step further.

You need to leverage two things that your brain hates — cognitive dissonance, and looking like a dick.

You need to create a forcing function, referenced by Aaron Ross in Impossible to Inevitable. Give yourself the necessary motivation by publicly announcing your plans to do a specific thing by a certain date.

I publicly signed up for ship30for30, saying that today I'm going to ship my first Atomic Essay. I'll do the same thing for the next 30 days. Cognitive dissonance means I can't now go back on that because I've told myself that that's what I'm going to do. Not wanting to look like a dick means that I've publicly committed to it, not doing it will make me look like a dick.

If you want to start doing something new, do it right after something you already do. Then, publicly announce that you're going to do it, and invest in the challenge.

Make your brain your ally. Force it to fight cognitive dissonance, and looking like a dick.