Atomic Habits: Advanced Tactics

This is the discussion thread for the final section of Atomic Habits: “Advanced Tactics”!

Book club index here.

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Up to this point, most of the advice in Atomic Habits could have been about your standard trying-to-be-a-little-healthier New Year’s resolution habits. But the last section switches modes into building habits to support the pursuit of mastery. I tend to frame Beeminder goals around what I want to be doing in the steady state rather than an explicit training program. Reading this section had me wondering how many of my goals are for personal maintenance versus explicit skill-building.

As it turns out, ten of my thirty-one goals connect to some mastery-oriented pursuit. The remaining twenty-one goals are either for self-care or doing things that stay true to my values. I think ten is probably too many on the mastery side, since those tie up to four different pursuits. I’m probably not giving each of those enough deliberate attention.

I’m curious if others could draw a similar division.

In chapter eighteen, James Clear suggests these questions (on page 224) for identifying a pursuit where you are likely to excel:

  • What feels like fun to me, but work for others?
  • What makes me lose track of time?
  • Where do I get greater returns than the average person?
  • What comes naturally to me?

These questions seem like a good start, but I’d put a footnote on “fun” in the first question to make sure we’re talking about type-2 fun: things that can be difficult and grueling while you are doing them, but satisfying in retrospect. I’d think most areas where there’s something to master have some amount of grind to the actual practice.

This may just be @malcolm’s Goal Crafting Intensive last weekend talking, but all three chapters from this last section made me even more passionate about the importance of regular reflection. I see some good fodder for weekly and monthly review questions here:

  • Where should I be on the explore/exploit spectrum?
  • Am I calibrated to the desirable level of difficulty? Do I need to be challenged or to feel the satisfaction of some wins?
  • Am I hitting diminishing returns on my current focus? Is it time to build on top of this skill, or should I retrain some fundamentals?

Thanks for participating, folks!


(Ooh! Wanna talk about the Goal Crafting Intensive from the point of view of someone who already Beeminds a bunch of stuff?)

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