Habit Change Is Like Chess

Habit Change Is Like Chess

Description

One of Steve Pavlina's many articles about habit change

Summary

As in the title, he compares habit change to chess. Specifically, the ideas of scholar's mate, early, mid, and end game. The primary idea is that by creating a support structure for your habit before you even start, you can power through actually changing the habit with ease. This is compared to most people's attempts to force their way through with sheer willpower.

Breakdown of information

Scholar's mate

He begins with the idea of scholar's mate. It is a checkmate in four moves that should only happen to novices. He claims that most people try to achieve scholar's mate in terms of habit change: they brute force it rather than adopting strategies to properly make habits stick.

Early game

Get a strong start and set yourself up for success. Read books, talk to people who've already achieved the success you want. Make a one page plan for how to achieve it.

Middle Game

Gain momentum and strengthen your position. Go after the scaffolding of the habit. Purge problem foods from home, pick 5 healthy restaurants, learn 10 healthy recipes, get a friend to do the same change with. Tell other people about the change and request their support. Increase your advantage with tactics.

Endgame

Begin your 30 day trial. Your advantage over the old habit should be enormous, but spend as much time as you need in the early stages first. If you fail here the problem lies with the earlier stages. Educate and prepare, do the work to give yourself a decisive advantage.

The role of self-discipline

Needing lots of self-discipline to succeed the endgame means you botched the early game. Sweating is the consequence of an ineffective strategy. Some habits are harder and make take a little bit, but if you build a solid foundation then the endgame should be smooth sailing. Self-discipline is best used in the early game to produce more effective advantages. Did you give proper attention to study, practice, and training? Do you know your strengths and how to leverage them? Do know your opponent's weaknesses and how to take advantage of them? Are you prepared to win? A disciplined approach to habit change eliminates obstacles, gains leverage, and tries to guarantee success before day one.

Super Summary

Habit change ought be like Scholar's Mate. 4 moves to win once you start playing. Preparation and support structures can make it much easier on yourself if you plan. Read books, talk to people who've already achieved the success you want. Purge problem foods from home, pick 5 healthy restaurants, learn 10 healthy recipes, get a friend to do the same change. Tell other people about the change and request their support. Increase your advantage with tactics. Make a one page plan for how to achieve it. If you find yourself sweating and needing lots of self-discipline you botched the early game. It ought not be brute force misery, but rather an inevitable consequence of the framework you set up for yourself.

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