Did you know that the eye of a storm is the calmest place to be? I’ve been through several hurricanes, most notably Hurricane Andrew in South Florida in August of 1992 and most recently Hurricane Hilary in August of 2023 in Southern California. While we expect the worst and hope for the best in these situations, the truth is that once we pass through it the skies clear and it’s smooth sailing once again.
When I made the conscious decision in 2005 to make a one-year plan to resign from my classroom teaching job at the end of the following school year, as well as to give away my best and longest real estate clients to others who could better serve them, I was creating my own storm. I could no longer take the noise and chaos and prepared for the calm that would come when the eye of my storm would pass over me.
I prayed each day for a way to work from home, from my bedroom if necessary because of the health challenges I had experienced, and in a way that would allow me to replace my income and meet all of my financial obligations with grace and ease. My prayers were answered when I attended a seminar where the speakers were sharing how they did this with simple products an two-page websites. I knew in my heart this would work for me as well.
As an extreme introvert, I traded my noisy, chaotic life for one that is filled with joy, laughter, and abundance. As I listened to the owls in the tree outside my bedroom window in the wee hours this morning, I was once again reminded of the gratitude and thankfulness I feel each day. If this describes anything similar to what you are feeling and seeking out in your life, then I hope you will feel like you’re in the right place here with me.
Cutting Through the Noise on Your Own Terms
During the time that I was preparing to change my life in a major way and move into the unknown and unfamiliar world of online entrepreneurship, I began reading and exploring the world of personal growth and self-improvement. My studies continue and one book has now become one that guides me in the direction that feels right for me and brings me greater joy and success…
What I’m reading for the umpteenth time… “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear – Chapter 3 is my favorite… How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps.
In this chapter, Clear outlines and explains the 4 Laws of Behavior Change. Let’s use the example of when I wanted to develop a habit of morning meditation…
Law #1: Make it obvious. James tells us we can use implementation intentions such as, “I will meditate first thing in the morning in my bedroom.” (Note: When and where are super important. Be precise and increase the odds of crushing it.) You can also make the cue obvious by “designing your environment.” Perhaps you could put the cushion you’ll sit on in your way from your bed to your bathroom so you trip over it. That’s “obvious.” (Or, if you want to work out, put your gym clothes in the same spot, etc.)
Law #2: Make it attractive. Think about all the research demonstrating the benefits you want… a calm mind, etc. You can also pair it with something you really enjoy doing like drinking a cup of tea or coffee AFTER you meditate. Another good way: “Join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior.”
Law #3: Make it easy. Easiest way to make it easy? “Downscale your habits until they can be done in two minutes or less.” (Think silly-small Mini Habits.) We also want to “Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact.” (Think winning fight-thrus a la Organize Tomorrow Today.)
Law #4: Make it satisfying. Give yourself an immediate reward after doing your new habit. James also tells us to never miss twice—very much like the idea of “Habit suicide” we discussed in Superhuman by Habit. And, he recommends: “Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and don’t break the chain.'” For me, once I committed to meditating daily, in addition to the benefits of a calmer mind I started experiencing (after the Plateau of Latent Potential, btw!), I LOVED my streak. I’m now over 5 years in and I’ve never missed one day. Super satisfying.
Insert your desired behavior. Follow the 4 Laws. And… Do the opposite for the stuff you want to get rid of. How about a quick walk through of a bad habit we’d like to break? Eating junk food?! Change your story around this!
First: Make it invisible (not obvious). How? Remember to “buy your willpower at the store.” In other words, DON’T BUY JUNK FOOD. (And throw away what you have.) Make it INVISIBLE. (Why? Well, when it’s “obvious” and in sight, what do you do? You eat it!!)
Second: Make it unattractive. “Reframe your mind-set. Highlight the benefits of avoiding the bad habits.” For example, imagine your energy stabilizing and your health Optimizing, etc.
Third: Make it difficult. “Increase friction” by increasing the number of steps between you and your bad habits. For example, you need to drive the grocery store to buy the junk food!
Fourth: Make it unsatisfying. Keep that reframe from above in mind and make the connection between your spike/crash energy levels and that junk food!
The Genius Hour As a Habit and Practice
The Genius Hour originated from a practice at Google almost two decades ago. Employees were allowed to use 20% of their work week to explore projects of their choosing, as long as it benefited the company. Gmail, Adsense, Google News, Google Glass and other innovations were created as a result of this self-directed research time. This practice was so successful it expanded to other companies, schools, and even entrepreneurs. Now called 20% Time or Passion Projects Planning, it’s something I do for an hour every day, typically very early in the morning.
Each of us has a “genius” within us, I believe. It’s that part of you that knows what is right and makes sense for you. Think of it as your inner light, God-given gifts and talents, promptings, intuition, or something else, but the result is the same… You know better than anyone else what you need to do to improve and change your life, business, relationships, and more. Give yourself this gift of an uninterrupted hour each day to think and daydream and meditate and journal and see what comes up for you.
Your turn! What’s the #1 good habit you’d like to create? #1 bad habit you’d like to break? If you feel so inspired, spend a moment working it through the model right now.
I’m writer, marketer, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect further with you. Download a Monthly Habit Tracker Journal and Habit Tracker Calendar to get started, and both are at no cost to you.