- The book shows how habits are the key to achieving our goals and improving our lives, and how we can create and maintain them with a systematic and effective approach.
- The book explains the principles and philosophies of habit building, as well as the practical nuts and bolts of implementing them, such as choosing the right habits, setting triggers and rewards, tracking progress, and overcoming obstacles.
- The book provides examples and exercises to help readers apply the habit building method to various areas of their lives, such as health, fitness, productivity, learning, creativity, and happiness.
Superhuman by Habit (2014) is a simple guide to creating habits that’ll lead to positive, lasting change. Drawing on personal anecdotes and well-known examples, it covers how to choose and build a habit, and shares several common habits that can lead to a healthier, happier future.
Introduction: Build positive habits to become a superhuman you.
Table of Contents
If you were to get dumped in a barrel of toxic waste and gain a superpower, what would it be? Colossal strength so you could reroute enemy missiles? Invisibility so you could be a fly on the wall? Or maybe you’d prefer the actual power of flight?
Superpowers seem awesome. But sadly, they only exist on TV … right?
Well, what if we told you there’s a superpower you can access without having to swim in toxic waste or be born into an extraterrestrial species? We’re talking about the power of habits.
In this summary, you’ll uncover some easy tips and tricks on how to choose and build habits – and become a superhuman version of yourself.
The power of habits
Do you automatically brush your teeth right before bed? Or instinctively grab your phone moments after opening your eyes in the morning? Do you check your emails as soon as your computer boots up? If you’re nodding along, then you already know how powerful habits can be.
Habits are actions that are almost involuntary. You just do them without second thought or too much effort – no need for constant reminders. That’s why habits are like superpowers. You get things done without exhausting your physical and mental energy reserves.
Although you might not be aware of it, you’ve already built a bunch of habits. The catch, though, is that not all your habits align with your best interests. Some could even be leading you astray, pulling you further from your goals. That’s why building new and positive habits is a must if you want to unleash your hidden potential and see yourself grow.
But beyond self-improvement, there’s another reason why habit-building is so important. Your willpower – the fuel that helps you perform certain actions you think are good for you – is limited. It can only get you so far, and is rarely enough to help you reach your goals.
The good news is that habits don’t rely on willpower. With habits, difficult actions eventually become easy because they’re automatic – you don’t have to force yourself to do anything. And the more positive habits you have, the bigger strides you can make toward your goals without depleting your willpower reserves.
In fact, the hardest part is choosing a new, positive habit and implementing it. But that’s exactly what we’re about to cover, so stay tuned.
How to choose habits
Building new habits is like cooking. Before you turn on the stove, you need to pick out your ingredients. Similarly, before you can start implementing your habits, you need to determine what they are.
Choosing a habit is the first step in your self-improvement journey. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of positive habits you can borrow from others – from the money habits of self-made billionaires to the reading habits of your professors and mentors. But while copying successful people’s favorite habits can work in some cases, you should ultimately identify and build habits that are unique to you. There are several ways to do this.
One is to get inspiration from your weaknesses. If you know you’re not performing at the top of your game or need to improve in a specific area, you can build a habit to address your weakness. For this to work, you need to be brutally honest with yourself and admit that you’re not the best at everything. Only then can you effectively pinpoint what habits to create.
Another way to get inspired is to consider your priorities. Is living a healthier lifestyle important to you? Then you’ll need to build habits that propel you toward that goal.
Finding something you’re really motivated to do is also a valid approach to choosing a habit. Building habits is no easy feat; it requires a significant amount of drive and determination. You can make things easier for yourself by choosing a habit that sparks a fire within you.
If you’re still having a hard time settling on a habit, try looking at things you don’t necessarily think you want to do. Say you’re a ballet dancer. You could choose a habit of writing to expand your skill set and increase your versatility.
Whatever habit you end up choosing, make sure it’s something you can do every day. Daily habits are easier to do for three reasons: First, you won’t have to draw up complicated weekly or monthly schedules because the habit is embedded in your everyday tasks. Second, you’re more likely to do it because it’s small and quick. And third, unlike weekly habits that you can push back a day, you can’t reschedule a daily habit – that would mean skipping a day.
And you don’t want that. Because when it comes to building habits, skipping can lead to failure – which we’ll explore in the next section.
How to build habits
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are habits. Creating habits that give you superhuman powers will take more than an overnight effort, so prepare yourself for the long haul. But how exactly do you build a habit, and what can you do to help yourself stick with it?
The first thing to grasp about building habits is that at the heart of every habit lies a trigger – an action or situation that prompts you to engage in your habitual behavior. Take brushing your teeth, for example. Its triggers are waking up in the morning or getting ready for bed at night. The goal is to align your habit with a trigger so that it becomes an automatic response.
Without triggers, you’d need to rely on your mood to determine whether to perform a habit on any given day. And, as we all know, that’s a pretty unreliable method. To propel you on your journey, it’s crucial to choose a specific trigger as soon as you’ve decided on what habit to build.
That trigger might already be present in your life, such as getting home from work or finishing your coffee. You can also use any existing good habits as the triggers for your new ones. Do you drink a cup of green tea every morning? Use that as a trigger for your new meditation habit afterward.
When building habits, also keep in mind that it’s a long-term process. Making a habit automatic typically takes at least a month – and often a whole year. This process involves two stages: loading and maintenance. In the loading stage, you use up your willpower to form your habit. Here, you go all out – and then keep going. No excuses or skips.
When you feel like you’ve mastered the habit, you can move on to the maintenance stage. This is where you can relax your habit a little bit. Say you’ve been working out every day during your loading stage. In the maintenance stage, you can reduce it to every other day. That’s the maintenance habit you’ll stick to for the rest of your life.
Because building habits is a gradual process, you probably won’t see results right away. It’s highly unlikely you’ll have a sculpted body after a week of working out or an awe-inspiring poem after two days of practicing your writing skills. That’s why you shouldn’t measure your progress on results. Instead, focus on consistency. How many times did you successfully perform the habit? How many times did you skip? Those are the important questions here.
And if you do fail, give yourself some grace. It’s alright to make mistakes, skip a day, and give up on a habit altogether. But don’t let those mistakes stop you from trying to build another habit again. Instead, leverage them, learn from them, and do better the next time around.
Tired of being a couch potato or a junk food hoarder? Want to hit the hay at the right time? Fed up with having the energy of a deflated balloon? In that case, it’s high time you adopted some healthy habits.
Let’s start with eating healthy foods. Good food comes with a boatload of benefits. Not only will you enjoy a longer lifespan and higher quality of life, but you’ll also have more motivation to build other positive habits. To start your habit of eating healthy, avoid getting caught up with fancy diet plans. Instead, focus on removing just a few harmful ingredients from your daily meals, like refined sugars and processed carbohydrates, and swapping them with healthier alternatives. It can also help to plan your meals, so your fridge is packed with nutritious ingredients when you get hungry.
Just like with good nutrition, getting good sleep is also a game changer for your health. When you’re properly rested, you’ll be less stressed and more ready to take on the day. As much as possible, shoot for roughly eight hours of sleep – and try to wake up on your own without an alarm. The habit of good sleep starts with establishing a regular bedtime. This should begin about nine hours before you need to wake up, so you have time to wind down your thoughts and actually fall asleep on time. To support this process, avoid electronic screens for at least an hour before your bedtime. They’re notorious for messing up sleep schedules.
On top of healthy foods and good sleep, working out is also great for your health. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult habits to start. But if you’re not already an active person, that’s all the more reason to prioritize building this habit! Working out not only boosts your confidence, strength, and coordination, but also your brainpower.
Fitocracy cofounder Dick Talens recommends doing three exercises a day for three days every week. On Mondays, do deadlifts, rows, and pull-ups. On Wednesdays, do curls, bench press, and incline bench press. And on Fridays, do cable crunches, squats, and straight-leg deadlifts.
If you’re not seeing the results you want, just hang in there for three to eight weeks before switching to a new program. Remember, habit-building is all about the process – not the results.
Ever come home to a cluttered living space strewn with dirty laundry and scattered papers? Did you look around happily, or immediately sink into a sour mood? A physical mess often leads to a mental mess, which is why building organization habits is essential.
One of the top organization habits you can get started on is daily imperfect cleaning. Yes, that’s right: imperfect! Maintaining a state of utmost cleanliness usually requires a Herculean effort – and, let’s be honest, who has the time or energy for that? Instead of targeting perfection, settle on a more realistic level of tidiness that’s easier to achieve. Then, twice a day, clean just a little to maintain that level.
To make your cleaning routine easier and your mind calmer, you can also build the habit of decluttering. Every weekend, spend an hour or two rounding up things you haven’t used in the past six to twelve months – and then make sure to get rid of them that same day. You can sell your electronics on Amazon or post your big appliances or furniture on sites like Craigslist. Once you’ve cleared out the obvious clutter, you can free up your weekends and just trigger your habit whenever you spot new, unused items creeping into your space.
Finally, it’s important to build a habit of staying organized in the digital space – specifically, your inbox. If your day-to-day involves communicating with a lot of people, chances are you’ve forgotten to reply to an important email at least once. Maybe you read the message, but just didn’t have the right mindset or time to send a thoughtful response. To prevent this from happening again, build the habit of flagging or starring emails as soon as they pop up in your inbox. That way, you won’t be pressured to reply immediately and can easily return to those important emails when you’re ready.
Say you have an important report that’s due today. But after typing two words into your document, you’re scrolling away on social media. You’re eager to get your work done, but you’re just not feeling very productive at the moment.
That’s where productivity habits come into the picture. There are lots of effective strategies to build productivity habits, but we’ll focus on just two here.
Counterintuitively, the first one starts before you even sit down to be productive. If you’ve ever procrastinated before, you’ll know that most of your precious time is lost while you’re avoiding the work you need to do – not while you’re actually doing it. This is especially true for people who don’t have a fixed work schedule. Instead of diving into the task at hand, they might go down the social media rabbit hole for hours on end. To avoid procrastinating in the first place, get into the habit of starting your work earlier in the day. This will kickstart your productivity momentum. Opt for an early morning task that’s important and high-value, so you won’t put it off.
The Twice, Then Quit productivity strategy might also do you good. The gist of this technique is simple: When you find yourself tempted to pause your work, don’t quit. Work through it until you’re tempted to quit a second time. Then, challenge yourself to push forward again. Finally, when the third temptation to quit strikes, you can gracefully bow out. This way, you’ll accomplish more yet still have the freedom to call it a day because you’ve put in a solid effort.
Habits give you the superpower to accomplish everyday tasks without depleting your willpower. To begin your habit-building journey, first decide on what habit to commit to. This can either be something close to your heart, an activity that ignites your inner motivation, or an area of weakness in need of improvement. From there, pick a trigger to serve as your habit’s call to action.
Whatever your habit is, remember that consistency is key. Keep at it, and try not to be discouraged by a lack of immediate results. Habit-building is a long-term journey, not a single-day expedition – eventually, you’re guaranteed to reap the rewards.
About the Author
Productivity, Personal Development
“Superhuman by Habit: A Guide to Becoming the Best Possible Version of Yourself, One Tiny Habit at a Time” is a self-help book written by Tynan, a well-known author, entrepreneur, and speaker. The book focuses on the power of small, incremental changes in behavior to help individuals achieve their goals and become the best version of themselves. In this review, we’ll delve into the key concepts, strengths, and weaknesses of the book, and provide an overall assessment of its effectiveness.
- The Power of Small Habits: Tynan emphasizes the importance of small, incremental changes in behavior, which he calls “tiny habits.” He argues that these tiny habits can snowball into significant improvements in various aspects of life, such as productivity, health, and happiness.
- The Aggregation of Marginal Gains: The book highlights the concept of the aggregation of marginal gains, which suggests that small improvements, when added up over time, can lead to substantial benefits. Tynan encourages readers to focus on making tiny improvements daily, rather than trying to make drastic changes that are difficult to sustain.
- The Importance of Identity: Tynan stresses the significance of aligning one’s habits with their values and desired identity. He argues that by cultivating habits that align with our aspirations, we can become the person we want to be and achieve our goals more effectively.
- The Role of Environment: The author emphasizes the impact of environment on behavior, suggesting that subtle changes in our surroundings can influence our habits and behavior. He encourages readers to create an environment that supports their goals and helps them stick to their habits.
- The 4 Laws of Behavior Change: Tynan outlines four principles for changing behavior: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying. He provides practical strategies for implementing these laws in various areas of life.
- Practicality: “Superhuman by Habit” is packed with actionable advice and strategies that readers can apply to their lives immediately. The book provides numerous examples and case studies, making it easy for readers to understand and implement the concepts.
- Accessibility: Tynan’s writing style is clear, concise, and engaging, making the book accessible to a wide range of readers. The language is simple, and the concepts are well-explained, making it a great resource for anyone looking to improve their habits and their lives.
- Relevant Examples: The book includes real-life examples and anecdotes from Tynan’s personal experiences, which help illustrate the concepts and make them more relatable. The examples span various areas of life, such as productivity, health, and relationships, making the book applicable to a broad audience.
- Focus on Small, Sustainable Changes: The book’s emphasis on small, incremental changes is refreshing and realistic. Tynan acknowledges that drastic changes are often unsustainable and that focusing on tiny habits leads to longer-lasting progress.
- Lack of Originality: While the book offers practical advice, some of the concepts and strategies may not be new to readers who have encountered self-help literature before. The book’s core ideas, such as the power of small habits and the importance of environment, are not necessarily groundbreaking.
- Overemphasis on Individual Agency: Tynan places significant emphasis on individual agency, which may overlook external factors that can impact habits and behavior. Readers may find that environmental factors or systemic issues hinder their ability to adopt new habits, and the book doesn’t offer sufficient solutions for these challenges.
- Limited Scientific Support: While the book cites some scientific research, the supporting evidence for certain concepts is not always robust. Some of the strategies and techniques may be based more on anecdotal evidence than scientifically-backed studies.
“Superhuman by Habit” is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their habits and their lives. Tynan’s practical advice, engaging writing style, and relevant examples make the book accessible and easy to apply. The book’s focus on small, sustainable changes is refreshing and realistic, and the 4 Laws of Behavior Change provide a useful framework.