How Long Will it Take Me to Build a New Habit?

I have built and broken a number of habits. It seems that when we think of habits, we think of something big such as “working out 3x a week for 1 hour” or “having a spotless house”. But as I said before, smaller habits in almost all cases but be the building block of these larger habits and goals. 

About a Month

To my credit (and demise depending on the situation), I love to learn new things. I highly value my freedom and ability to learn and experiment. As a result, I have spent a lot of time doing both effective and ineffective habits. In most circumstances, I am able to instill a new sustainable habit in about one month. Habits like these include:  

  • Eating enough protein
  • Eating a vegetable with every meal
  • Tracking all workouts 
  • Making sure I don’t wear my shoes in the house
  • Gratitude journaling before bed

As you can see, these are not huge life-changing things in and of themselves, but aggregated they turn out to be the building blocks of a much healthier and happier lifestyle. 

There is no One-Size-Fits-All

I don’t want to deceive you into thinking that every habit will take exactly one month to form, but it’s a good starting point. The next habit that you try to instill will certainly come to fruition faster if you assess how reasonable it is and then just begin. And remember that it doesnt matter how long it takes, it will be worth it. 

Some people may feel that one small habit isn’t enough to make the big changes they need to make. That’s like arguing that compound interest isn’t fast enough. Or that the sun doesn’t rise fast enough. Arbitrary, and completely unproductive. As Brain Tracy says, “Get in line and stay in line”. The patience we learn from staying the course is an invaluable life skill in and of itself. Now obviously, we are all starting from different places and with different levels of resources, but no one ever became a worse person by setting and staying the course to achieve a goal. At the very least, you will have gained discipline and perseverance which are worth their weight in gold. 

I guess I am trying to say, just begin and give it a month. See what happens. Most reasonably sized goals will become a part of your everyday routine within about a month if you can stick to it. 

Thanks for reading! 

How to Plan for your Habits

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Although this saying is “played out” in a lot of ways, it still remains a truth in almost all areas of life. Planning is vital to achieving any level of success in almost all endeavors. Planning needs to have a structure and philosophy to produce results. Otherwise, it is just planning in vain, and that sounds like one of the worst ways to spend your time. 

Do your Research

Before we begin planning a path toward any particular goal, we must decide what is worth planning for. Let’s say you decide to plan a fitness goal. It would be helpful to have a teacher or trainer guide you through the process. If you are a rebel, perhaps you want to figure it out on your own. But in any case, you need to gather the necessary information to know what reasonable steps to take. As was stated in my earlier article on making small habits, be sure to start small and build slowly. Okay, so now you know that you are going to start your journey by walking for at least ten minutes a day. The next step is to take that small goal and create a reasonable and visible plan. 

Have a Reasonable and Visible Plan

If a beginner to fitness made a goal to begin running 30 minutes each day they would likely fail. Not only is the goal not reasonable, it is unnecessarily hard. Now, if I go from being sedentary to walking ten minutes a day, that is a reasonable goal. Big enough to begin producing results, but small enough not to set off my body’s resistance patterns. 

I now need to make this plan visible. This is a minor, but crucial process in creating a good plan. Let’s say you open up your Google Docs and create a weekly meal plan. The next morning you get up and go to the fridge to begin prepping your meals for the week. What was your snack supposed to be? How many cups of rice go in your lunch? Now imagine that you printed that document and placed it on your fridge with a magnet. Now you get up, go to the fridge and know exactly what to pack to meet your goals for that day. In my experience, this small habit of making the plan visible is indispensable to 100% compliance. 

I am a teacher. When kids don’t do their homework, I make them verbally tell me they didn’t do it. I don’t do it to be vindictive, I do it to provide accountability. If I just walk past and they can look the other way, they don’t have to admit their failure (albeit insignificant) to me or themselves. Going back to the fridge example, If I have to look at the document on my fridge and willfully put something else in my lunch bag, I must admit that small failure to myself in that moment. Of course we forgive ourselves when we make mistakes, but knowing that you have to confront them soon afterward makes for a good accountability measure. 

Be Ready to Tweak

Jack Canfield has a lot of great little sayings that I remember. One of them is “ready, fire, aim”. Basically the concept is to “just begin” and then take stock of the results to make tweaks as you go. This is exactly what we must do with our plans (unless we are under the guidance of a professional). It sounds like a contradiction to tell you to make a plan, and at the same time be flexible, but that is exactly what we must do if we are creating unique goals for ourselves. Just let the idea settle that achieving your goals will require flexibility on your part. 

So remember, do your research, have a visible and reasonable plan, and be ready to tweak your plan as you go.

Thanks for reading!

Habits are Investments

In a previous post, I discussed the idea that you should focus on building habits one at a time. When we commit to smaller habits that are easy to form and sustain, we grow our ability to achieve more and more. If we try to do too much too soon, we quickly encounter our body’s natural resistance mechanisms. A good way to think about a habit is as an investment. 

Results Take Time

Depending on how big the goal, the subsequent energy required to reach it is proportional. For example, if your goal is financial independence, you can expect to spend several years in that pursuit. If your goal is to become fit, you can expect to achieve your goal after several months (maybe even a year or two).  

But what if instead of setting a big lofty goal, we set a more reasonable one and think of it as an investment? A few dollars a day over the course of many years can lead to financial security very quickly. For example, if our goal is to become fit, perhaps we can choose the small goal of eating a piece of fruit every day. It seems inconsequential, but once that habit is solidified, the door opens to add another small habit (maybe eating adequate protein to support an active lifestyle). Then we add another habit…and another…and, before you know it, you reach your goal. 

Patience is required in this process. If we eat our piece of fruit and then expect to see results after a day, we are delusional (you might feel better, but you won’t look any different). But we can eat our fruit knowing that this habit is the step to begin a journey that will lead us to bigger and better (and more noticeable) results. Think of each small habit built as a deposit into the account that will soon pay dividends much larger than the original investments. 

Compound Interest

Achieving a goal is the end of an exponential process. Much like compound interest. You put in $1,000 and earn $20 interest. The next year, you now have your original $1,000 plus the next $1,000 you invest, PLUS the $20 interest. Habits work the same way. Month one you decide to eat fruit. Month two you are eating fruit and watching your protein intake. Month three you are eating fruit, watching your protein intake, and counting calories. With each habit you build, you have the value of that habit, plus all of the other little habits that are grown out of that one. Does that make sense? (I am a math teach haha) The results may not be immediate, but they will grow faster than you think. The beginning is the hardest. It is against our nature to put in effort without seeing reward. But it’s just the way it is. With a little faith, we can know that these small habits will eventually bear fruit. 

Thanks for reading!

Three Ways to Make Going to the Gym a Habit

The hardest thing (for most people) about going to the gym is getting there. Not “getting there”as in whether to take a car or bus, but “getting there” in terms of finding the motivation to get out of the house. In this article, I will share a few of my tips that have helped make getting to the gym relatively easy for me. 

  1. Plan in Advance

A good habit to instill is making sure that you pack your bags and all necessary items for the gym the day before. This is a big help for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. Obviously it saves you time when you grab your ready-to-go bag the next day, but it also makes it more likely that you’ll grab the bag as opposed to leaving it by the door. Why? Because if you don’t, you’ll have to deal with the bag anyway! You’ll have to unpack it and put all the stuff back. Sounds minor, but if your brain knows the bag must be dealt with at some point, better to make it when it will benefit you. 

2. Take Collateral 

When I say “take collateral”, I mean tie something to your gym trip that will make more work for you if you don’t go (similar to the bag idea above). If you spend time making a pre- and post-workout snack, have it in your fridge and ready to go, every time you open the fridge, you’ll remember your commitment to going to the gym. My trick is that I make a post-workout protein shake each night before I go to the gym and put it in the fridge. I remember (I kid you not) EVERY single time I poured one of the shakes down the drain. One because protein is expensive and two because I had a stark reminder of a broken commitment. 

3. Find what You Like to Do (or find a way to make what you don’t like doing fun)

I think at some point, everyone realizes that to have total fitness you have to do something you don’t like. I hate cardio. I find it repetitive, boring, and even a little physically uncomfortable. I can get hype about lifting weights pretty much any time, but cardio is another story. To solve this problem, I found “hacks” to help me enjoy doing cardio. One of them is to listen to an interesting podcast. Makes the monotony of the treadmill much easier. Another way I hack cardio is by trying to stay at a specific heart rate zone. It seems silly, but having to adjust my effort level makes the cardio feel more responsive and almost like a little game. Moral of the story, try to think of creative ways to make the less pleasant parts of your gym experience more fun.

Thanks for reading!

Why You Should Build One Habit at a Time

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step 

Since beginning my personal development journey, I have created and broken dozens of daily habits. I was a vegan, then a meat eater, Paleo, no sugar, high sugar, I’ve worked out three times a week, six times a week, five times a week. I have trained myself to wake up at 7am, 5am, 4:00am (my wife hates that). But anyway, you get the idea. 

Amidst years of building and breaking habits, I have learned that one of the biggest keys to building a new habit is building them one at a time. 

So often when we get a flash of inspiration we get a barrage of new ideas. For example, let’s say you have ascribed to high-carb doctrine for a number of years. Then, after an illness, you read the Primal Blueprint and your mind is opened to a plethora of new health and fitness ideas. Our tendency will be to try and make a huge overhaul of all of our habits and adopt a new “lifestyle”. I am going to predict that very few people will make it work. 


Our bodies are not meant to take big changes lightly. Now, let’s say instead of completely changing your lifestyle at once, you choose to start with eating more fat and a little less carbs. That’s an easy habit that the majority of people can implement with no problem. Then after spending a month solidifying that habit, you can add in some explosive exercise. Spend a month solidifying that and then commit to getting 15+ minutes of sun each day. See where I’m going? 

There are lots of reasons to approach it this way, but one of the biggest is because it makes it easy to track and realize what changes are helping you feel and perform better. If you switch up fifteen variables at once, if you do feel better, it is hard to pinpoint which one had the most significant impact. But on the other hand, if you decide to walk 20 minutes a day three times a week, and stick to it for a month, you can be pretty sure that improvements in mood and energy are a result of that habit. 

So remember, good ideas usually come in bundles. Inspiration usually pushes us to make big changes. But if you want to make change that lasts, pace yourself and consider building one habit at a time. 

Advice for the New Year

“Just begin and the mind grows heated; continue, and the task is completed” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My advice for 2020 is to just begin. Beginning a worthwhile goal can be easy when you know what to expect along the way.

It Doesn’t Matter how Long it Takes, it will be Worth it!

Any worthwhile goal takes time. A good way to have solace along the way is remembering is that the time will pass anyway. Let’s say it takes about three years to achieve the physique you desire. That’s a long time! But in three years you can look back proudly at your accomplishments and progress, or you can look back in regret that you didn’t begin and persist.

Brian Tracy says that it takes about 22 years after you become serious about money to become a millionaire (some FIRE proponents say it is closer to 15 years if you save aggressively). By any measure, 22 (or 15, or 12) years is a long time. But, the time will pass anyway. Just begin! At the end of 22 years, you can look forward to financial freedom, or look back and regret your inaction.

Every Step Forward makes the Next Step Easier

Let’s say you start your personal development journey by committing to working out three days a week. Once you begin, you face various setbacks, you have to rearrange and better plan your free time, and organize your daily activities around this foundation habit. But you begin and persist, and eventually working out three to five times a week is part of your lifestyle. It is almost as if it is on “cruise control”.

As is expected, you begin to expand and set new goals. Here is the cool thing, once you have built the discipline to make one habit, the next one is easier. Discipline is a muscle, the more you work it (not to exhaustion!), the more efficient and stronger it becomes. This is a similar phenomenon to investing money. You invest $1,000 and in the months and years ahead, you earn interest with little to no effort on your part.

I hope this short post gave you some information and inspiration to set a goal and just begin. Until next time…

How You Can Get More Deep Sleep

For a long time, I have wondered what the difference between the day after a hard workout where I feel refreshed and one where I still feel beat up and tired. The answer, I have found, is deep sleep.

I happened to stumble upon this discovery this week when I decided to try and create a deep sleep regimen. I had a list of supplements I would take and gadgets to use, and of course my trusty Oura ring to track all of the data. The reason I started tracking is because I knew I would have trouble sleeping. With the start of a new school year AND a wedding to attend (drinking, not a lot of sleep), I know from experience and quantification that my recovery takes a big hit during those times. I was very pleasantly surprised when the data showed that not only had I improved my deep sleep (even under special circumstances), but I also was recovering very quickly!

But something interesting happened. One night I took all my supplements but forgot to run my PEMF machine.The next day I looked at my deep sleep scores, and they had plummeted!

PEMF to Boost Deep Sleep

My wife and I joke that I am working on my PhD in Woo-Woo Science. Ever since I got into “biohacking” I have had the most interesting journey of finding things that worked very well for me and things that also just seemed like a scam. I consider myself a scientist with a sample size of one…me.

Of all the hacks I have tried, my PEMF machine by EarthPulse has delivered the best and the most easily quantifiable results. When I set my EarthPulse to 2.0-3.2 Hz and let it run while I sleep, I easily increase my deep sleep by 45 minutes to an hour and a half. My current record for deep sleep is 2 hours and 48 minutes! As you can imagine, that much deep sleep is a huge boost to recovery.

I was filled with skepticism before I bought this device, and I encourage you to be too. But once I saw what running this during the night did for my recovery, I was sold. It became very obvious that this was the most powerful addition to my sleep regimen. Let’s look at the data!

The first night, Wednesday September 4th, was the second day of school (stressful). I had taken all of my supplements, but forgot one thing…my PEMF machine. As you will see, this made a HUGE difference.

As you can see, this first night I got exactly one hour of deep sleep. Not the biggest deal in the world if you aren’t under stress or exercising vigorously…but I was!

Above is a screenshot of my Oura app for the night I forgot to run my PEMF (the previous night I got about 2 hours of deep sleep). I figured this would be an excellent time for an experiment. The whole first week of school is about equally stressful. I wasn’t eating or exercising any differently, so most factors were controlled for. But this night I ran my PEMF at 3.2 Hz for the duration of my sleep. Now check this out…

Boom! Deep sleep time more than DOUBLED when I ran my PEMF!

Just for good measure, I ran it again the next few nights to see if it may have been a fluke. All of my deep sleep scores were at least two hours, culminating with two hours and 43 minutes today! Take a look!

My personal experience has been that running my PEMF machine (the Earthpulse) has helped increase my deep sleep significantly. There is much more information available on their website (most scientifically backed), so I’ll spare those details.

Try this hack out and let me know how it works for you!