Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard was one of the first books I read that got me interested in habit transformation. To me, it is second only to The Power of Habit in terms of its usefulness for personal habit development, and it’s the most useful book I’ve found on influencing other people’s habits.
The essential distinction that the book works around is the conflicting personalities in our brain: our emotional and hedonic side (our “elephant”) and the rational long-term side (the elephant’s “rider”). True change requires manipulating the elephant to obey the rider’s commands, and they offer a number of ways to make this easier than the traditional beating the elephant with a stick (I have to go to the gym, I’m so lazy; I shouldn’t eat that, I’m so fat; etc.)
Here are points that I found most applicable to changing our own habits:
Most Useful Parts of the Book (for Habit Changing)
- Bright Spots
- Those couple of times you went to the gym, what was special about them? Can you duplicate those circumstances?
- Look at times you’ve succeeded at what you want to do and figure out what made those times unique. How can you replicate them?
- Think about Actions, not about the big picture
- I should “be healthier” is useless. I should go to the gym 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes is useful.
- Shrink the Change
- Make whatever it is you’re trying to change smaller and smaller until it doesn’t seem like a big deal. 5 days at the gym too much? How about 4? How about 3? Can you start with 2 days? Start small and build up from there
- Change your Environment
- I mentioned this in my Starbucks post, but if you can change your environment in some way you can make it easier to change your habits
- Getting rid of all the junk food in your house will make it easier to eat healthy. There will be nothing to resist!
There’s a lot more than this obviously, but these were the parts that really stood out to me and helped with changing my own habits. I highly recommend the book, especially if you do any type of leadership, and it’s a fun read throughout!