James Clear (@jamesclear), the author of Atomic Habits, knows a thing or two about forming successful habits as a founder. In this episode, he talks about how he developed the habits he used to help grow his website to over 400,000 subscribers. We also go into detail about the methods and science behind habit formation, and how any founder can develop the habits necessary to do their best work.
What's up, everyone? This is Courtland from IndieHackers.com and you're listening to the Indie Hackers podcast. On this show I talk to the founders of profitable internet businesses and I try to get a sense of what it's like to be in their shoes.
How did they get to where they are today? How do they make the decisions at their companies and what exactly makes her businesses tick and the goal as always is so that the rest of us can learn from their examples and go on to build our own successful businesses.
Today I have the pleasure of speaking with James Clear. James is an entrepreneur. He's the creator of JamesClear.com and he's the author of a brand new book called Atomic Habits. James welcome to the show and thank you so much for joining me.
Absolutely. Thank you for having me on, it's exciting to talk to you.
Yeah, same. I have a ton I want to talk to you about actually and you are many things in addition to what I just listed earlier. You're also a public speaker, educator, a weightlifter, a photographer. But this show is about building companies.
So I really want to hone in on your career as an entrepreneur and I also want to talk about your new book Atomic Habits and how we can apply the principles found there to form habits that can help us build more successful businesses. So let's start with you. How did you become interested in entrepreneurship?
Well, I didn't really have anybody in my family who is an entrepreneur, so I didn't really have much to go on early on and I'm not sure if it's this way for other entrepreneurs but looking back there were a variety of things that I did early on that were fairly entrepreneurial but I didn't know that at the time. I didn't have the language to describe it.
So when I was in college Amazon was getting started and like had been around for a little while and you could they had their Marketplace feature and you could resell your textbooks on there. So I started reselling my own textbooks, but then I also started doing it for everybody.
That was like, on my floor and then in my dorm and we'll just keep like five bucks from each one or whatever. And that wasn't really a business but it was kind of entrepreneurial as a student. I found out that you could design your own major. And so I list all the options as like, I don't really like any of these
So I just like came up with a collection of classes that I thought sounded interesting and then like slap a label on it and called it biomechanics and end up being like a combination of science classes that I was excited about, academic affairs council approved it and that ended up being my major.
So that's also fairly entrepreneurial. So like look at the set of options and be like well, I kind of want to create my own thing instead. So I had little decisions like that. And then when I was in graduate school, I worked in the center for entrepreneurship and my job was to analyze venture capital investment in the region. And so I saw these people starting companies and that was where I kind of got the itch to really start my own thing as well. All these other people are doing it.
Like maybe I should try it too. So rather than get a job out of grad school. I just tried to launch my own company and kind of floundered around for about two years, which now I refer to the period is the period where I incubated my skill set.
That was really the time when I kind of like hone my skills and learned what a website was and how to design one and one email list was how launch product and all that type of stuff. Then in November of 2012 I watch JamesClear.com and I've been running without ever since.
I talked to a lot of founders who have this sort of drive to create their own path. Like you did have almost a disdain for walking along the beaten path.
As somebody who reads a lot and writes a lot about psychology. Do you think that's something that you're just born with or is there something in your life that made you that kind of person?
Yeah, I don't well, I don't know it's hard to say from like a broad perspective. Like what what does that look like in society or how does it influence other people?
I can only tell you bike from my own experience. I do think there's something genetic or personality-wise that makes me very curious or innately like I'm definitely a learner and ask a lot of questions want to be curious and I don't know how it's really hard to stoke the flame of curiosity if someone doesn't have that there are.
To do it actually is it's related to motivation in general actually right about this later in the time like habits, but there's this concept that I refer to as the Goldilocks rule where it's this idea that humans experience peak levels of motivation when they work on a task of just manageable difficulty.
So not too hard, not too easy. just right and you can imagine this is like a student you could you know reading skills are big when you're like in first grade or second grade or whatever.
And so if you want to foster reading skills or an interest in reading and students, it's really important to have them like just on the edge of their ability where they're being challenged but they're also experiencing enough success that they have a reason to come back and read again the next day to give them something that's multiple grade levels Beyond them then they just get you know dejected about.
And the same thing is true, you know, you could imagine playing like tennis if you play against the professional. Well, it might be cool for a second because boring pretty quickly cause you're gonna lose every point.
If you play against the five-year-old it's going to get boring pretty quickly because you win every point. But if you play against someone who's your peer is like just kind of right around the same level as you you and a few points, they want a few points you have a chance to win.
But only if you really try hard that's like the most motivating level to be at. And so if you can maintain that then you can perhaps like stoke curiosity up a little better. So keep you on that razor's edge. And in fact many products specially like video games are amazing at this.
They're really good at keeping players right on the edge of their ability so that if you start to struggle, they'll offer you more power-ups and weapons things like that. And if you're doing really well, then you face more challenges or difficulties, but the idea is to always keep you kind of like on that board
Which keeps you engaged and curious and motivated and excited but in real life, it's in the physical world. It's hard to maintain that and that's doubly true for an entrepreneur who is building a business and you know, like there is no road map. So keeping yourself right on the edge of your ability is really hard because you're not quite sure what you're working on all the time or what your abilities are or what you need to be focusing on the next moment.
So for a practical standpoint, it's difficult to do that. And if you don't have some level of innate personality. Interested in learning and being curious and kind of diving in being a problem solver. Then I feel like it would be harder and again, you know, I can't speak for everybody else, but I can say from my own experience. I do think I'm kind of like wired that way.
Yeah, I've heard about other things that motivate people as well in particular about an article recently about how entrepreneurs have a high incidence of being unemployable people who think that they simply won't be able to get a job or if they do their skills will be undervalued which I think can be sort of a motivating factor for starting your own business.
Let's talk about this area this period of time where you were sort of. Learning learning what a website is learning how technology works and sort of becoming the person you are today. What do you think with the most valuable skills that you learned during this period.
Well, probably the most valuable things learning to trust myself in a sense entrepreneurship is just the ability to trust that you'll figure it out because you're constantly facing some challenge or problem. No matter where you're at on the curve.
I mean you could have a hundred million dollar business. There's going to be some challenges that you're facing next that you haven't faced yet and if. You have the trust the faith that you'll figure it out. Then you have a reason to show up and keep doing the work.
It takes a little while to learn that or to believe that about yourself. You need like some evidence, you know, you have to solve a few problems before you really are like, yeah, I can I can figure that out. I can make that happen and early on in your career. There's a surprisingly long amount of time when you're like is this still really going to take you know, like most entrepreneurs?
I know still paranoid that like the bottom is going to fall out of their business and things are going to collapse overnight and even if you don't feel it every day after you've been established for two or three or five or 10 years, you still feel it every now and then and so it's important to have that that like trust and confidence in yourself. Then they're just a long list of skills and technical skills that I learned over those first two years and this is true for any business the particular skills.
You learn differ based on what you're working on but you go through this period where they're all these initial costs with starting up a business and I don't just mean like Financial cost but also time costs and those are maybe even the. Into one's to go through so, you know early on I had no budget. I didn't have any resources or money to draw from so it's like well the website needs to get designed.
I guess I need to teach myself web design. So, you know, there goes a few months or a couple weeks working on that and it can be frustrating to deal with those problems over and over again. It's like, all right. We need to put a product up for sale. So now I guess I need to figure out like how to get a buy button on the. Or I hear email lists are important. So I guess I need to learn what an email list is and how to build a form and all that type of stuff and.
Again, the problems differ depending on what your business is, but it's particularly frustrating early on because you like man. I know if I just had a little bit of money to pay a programmer to do this. They get it done in 45 minutes, but for me, it takes 14 hours. So they're all kinds of things like that where your hand is kind of forced early on and that was a lot of what those first two years were for me there.
Just the period of building those skills basic skills that now yeah, if I need to build a form of website, it's going to take me five minutes, but there was a time when that wasn't true and I didn't even know what a form was and so you just takes a lot to learn all that stuff up front.
The second piece of advice that I got early on that was really helpful was to try things until something comes easily. And I've since learned that this is basically What's called the explore exploit trade-off and the idea is that in the beginning of any process. There should be a broad period of exploration and you could compare this on multiple time scales.
So say like with your career early in your career, you should probably try a bunch of different things to see what you like get exposed to different things. And this is one of the ideas behind internships, but I don't think it should stop when you're in school. I think it or after you leave school. I think it should continue through, you know, maybe the first.
Your career and you continue to experiment with things and then whatever turns out is best aligned with your interest and your skill set and your opportunities, maybe start to exploit that one after you've had this period of exploration but. The same could be said for each project that you work on so early on in the project. You should probably look for multiple ways to solve the problem. And then as you get closer to the deadline you start to run out of time.
You should probably shift your focus and start to exploit the best option that you found so far and actually get some results and so I utilize that idea for the first couple of years, you know, I tried probably four or five different websites.
I ended up having one that was about like small business marketing and I grew that email list about 20,000 or so and that was kind of the first time that I tried to exploit a little bit or like double down on a particular area and put some of those ideas into practice because for whatever reason that seemed to go well, but then I knew pretty early on in that but I wasn't super interested in that side, but it was even though it was.
Doing a little better than anything else. I had found at that time. And then in November, November 12 2012 I wrote my first article and JamesClear.com and the growth on that site for whatever reason I mean, maybe it was because I was writing about something I really enjoyed maybe it was because I had a few years of experience and I like knew what to focus on now, but maybe it was just the right time to write about it, but that site took off much faster than anything else that worked on. So I think you know, I started at zero and then.
And a year later, I have 34 thousand subscribers and then the next year a hundred thousand then 225 the end of year two or beginning of year three and four hundred thousand and on and on so it's been it's been a process of exploration and then refinement.
Start with a really broad funnel cast a wide net explore a lot of options read a ton of books talk to a bunch of people and then be very selective and filter really tightly about where you focus your time and attention.
So there's a lot there and I spend a lot of time talking to not just entrepreneurs but people who are passionate about starting a company, but haven't actually started yet. And one of the most common things that I run into is where do people draw the line between learning and acting at what point do you know enough to get started?
What point should you stop reading? Stop listening to podcast episodes stop buying books and actually decide what kind of business you're going to work on? It sounds like for you those two processes learning and acting where intertwined so, how do you think about navigating that line? And how did you shift from one to the other?
Yeah, it's a good question. And I mean it first of all inherently the balance between these two is challenging. I mean, this is one of the things that makes building a business or learning and implementing anything difficult, you know, if everybody knew what the ideal solution was and it wouldn't be that hard but the way that I think about it now and this is again a little contextual for me since I'm an author and a writer and writing is kind of the backbone of my business.
So I would compare it to a car. so knowledge, learning about something for your business is kind of like filling the car up with gas and you need gas to get around but the point of going to the gas station is not to sit at the gas station just pump gas in the car all day, you know some point the tank is full and there's nothing else to do. You're just pouring gas on to the concrete.
So you need to get out and drive and Implement a little. But if all you do is drive then you start to run yourself dry at some point and so I don't think there's ever a point where you just stop learning or stopping stop reading or stop talking to people are interviewing people, Stop exploring new ideas.
That needs to be part of the process in the long run just like going to the gas station occasionally needs to be part of the process. I actually experienced this my own business. So I you know, I had a period early on where I read a ton and I just kept notes to myself before the site launched.
I have like a word doctors maybe 60 or 65 pages long and it was just sort of James's thoughts on habits. It wasn't anything specific and I had that document for a while and then eventually I was like, all right. I should just publish something from this right like I should just take a chunk of it make one article out of it.
And so working off of that document that period of of reading and learning I was able to come up with a variety of Articles over the first year or two. And then at that point in by year-end I had an audience now, I have people expecting work for me and I thought okay. Now people are paying attention.
Like I really need to focus more in really do great work. So I should just spend all my time, right? And I tried to do that and actually the quality of my writing got worse and I think it's because I was doing the equivalent of driving a car without filling it up gas.
It was like I was trying to put out all this knowledge, but I wasn't taking anything in and so I actually need a balance of the two in order to perform it like an optimal level and I think that in many areas of business that's probably true like the world. Shifts and so you need to evolve with it. This is true.
Not just for writing and consuming new ideas that you stay fresh and come up with interesting insights yourself, but it's also true for marketing and growing the business. I mean the areas where I get traffic today are very different than some of the areas that I got traffic from even just two years ago.
So as the internet changes you have to be willing to adapt with it and part of that process is learning and consuming and making sure that you're staying up to date with what is changing. So then you can adjust your execution for next time.
I want to walk through the story behind how you were able to grow your subscriber base and become better as an author and make JamesClear.com and to what it is today, but I also want to do so through the lens of habit formation.
So let's switch gears for a second and talk about that. Your book is called Atomic Habits. What is an Atomic Habit exactly. And how is it different from a normal habit?
Good question. Okay, so it doesn't necessarily have to be different from a normal habit, but I chose the phrase Atomic Habits for three reasons. So the first is the word of time it could mean tiny or small, you know, like an atom and that is one of the core pieces of my philosophy that habits should be small and easy to do the second meaning of atomic is that it is the fundamental unit of a larger system.
So Atoms build a new molecules molecules building the compounds and so on and in the same way if we you. To think of habits is like the atoms of our lives and if you you build them on top of each other if you kind of layer these little 1% Improvement. So these small easy habits on top of one another you end up with a powerful system as a result.
And I think that that actually is how you drive change whether it's in a business or in your personal life. It's not like there's one magical habit that does it. It's the combination of a variety of habits organized in an overall system.
And then the third meaning is that Atomic can also mean the source of immense energy or power and I think that that helps kind of describe the narrative arc of the book, which is that if you make these small habits and you layer them on top of each other and build a powerful system you can end up with some really remarkable results in the long run. So that's the that's kind of the meaning behind the phrase Atomic Habit.
One of the things that strikes me whenever I enter a conversation about habits is that most of the habits that we form in life are unconscious.
We just sort of end up with the habits that we have and we find ourselves on these varying paths going through life. How do we make and form habits consciously, and how did you do that? And the early days of learning the skills that you learn in order to become James clear, but James clear today.
Yeah, that's a really good question. So in a sense you can think about your habits as like the solutions to the problems that you face repeatedly in life. So let's say that you come home from work and you're stressed and exhausted. Well, that's a problem that you need to come up with a solution for and so for one person.
They might find that the solution is that they play video games for an hour and for another person the solution is they smoke a cigarette and for a third person the solution is that they go for a run for 20 minutes. And any one of those habits could solve the problem that you're facing but the point that you just brought up is that as we go through life we're just kind of looking for a solution to the challenges that we face repeatedly the original habit that you build is not necessarily the optimal habit for solving that problem or that situation.
And so then the question becomes will can you design that process rather than fall into it without thinking can you be the architect of your rabbits reading the victim of them? And that was one of the reasons why I thought writing the book will be important and I the punchline of course is that I think you can there is a framework that I lay out in the book for kind of designing any any new habit but to answer your question about how I applied this in my own business and work.
There are a couple different areas so some of them are. Related some of them are not a few of them that are outside the scope of the business but impacted meaningful ways are things like exercise. So, you know weightlifting is really important to me I go to the gym for 5 days a week and I have said many times that I don't think I would have a business if it weren't for the habit of working out.
I don't think I'd be able to handle the psychological roller coaster ride that, you know being an entrepreneur puts you on. Sleep is another huge one that you know, my cardinal rules that I don't shoot myself. I'm sleep the downside of that is sometimes I have trouble powering down. So that's a habit that I struggle with is that I go to bed too late sometimes but so if I'm working till midnight or 1:00, then I'm not going to wake up till eight or nine because I'm not going to shoot myself on sleep.
But anyway, we can talk more about that if you like, but the the exercise and sleep habits are kind of these overarching ones that really have a big influence on the work that I do I think for many people. If you want to become more productive, you would see more value from getting eight hours of sleep every night then from like reading of article on how to double your productivity and then there is that of habits that are within the business.
So the most obvious one is writing. So for the first three years that I worked on JamesClear.com, I wrote a new article every Monday and Thursday. It was really that writing habit the change the trajectory of the business and this is indicative of maybe a larger lesson about habits and rituals and routines and practice which is that whenever we're starting a new project or trying to accomplish new goal.
It's easy to get focused on stuff that makes like the last five percent of difference. So people want to get in shape. They are like, all right, what running shoes do I need to buy or what knee sleeves do I should I get or which protein powder is the best but like all that stuff makes like last two percent of difference the thing that makes the 98% of the differences.
Are you getting your workouts in are you not missing workouts? Are you putting in your reps? And so the real answer the like, how do I get in shape is like well don't miss a workout for two years and then get back to me and I think we could say something fairly similar for a lot of areas of business.
You know, like how do I build a big audience or how do I get a hundred thousand email subscribers or whatever. It's like well, you know, I wrote a new article every Monday and Thursday and I spent 10 to 15 hours on each one and then I did that for three years and.
There are a bunch of strategies that are also involved or tactics about driving traffic and conversion and design and you know bunch of stuff that well. I'm sure we'll talk about in a minute. But the thing that makes the biggest difference is that kind of core fundamental habit, so that's just kind of like a brief overview. I relied on those early on him still today.
Yeah, I really want to get into this habit. You formed around writing every Tuesday and Thursday. One thing you mentioned that I thought was very interesting is that we go through our lives developing solutions to problems.
So what you mentioned specifically was you might come home from work exhausted and the solution to that problem is you play video games for an hour. I think what's interesting to me is that often?
We don't even think about it in these terms. We just feel a craving to come home and play video games to come home and eat a slice of cake to come home and watch TV or something and we might not even be aware that it saw me any particular problem.
We just feel like that's what we need to do because we know that it works when you form your habit of writing did that feel like a craving to you that you crave sitting down and writing or was it something they had to force yourself to do even after you develop a habit.
Yeah, so this is a good question and it leads into kind of a deeper understanding of what I have it is and how it works. So in the book I lay out this four-step process for for how habits work and you can sort of think of it as a habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become more or less automatic and so if you want to describe habits appropriately you probably need a framework that describes more or less all of human behavior appropriately.
So I think that pretty much any action you take us through what I would call these four stages and so the first stage is there's some kind of cue which you can just think of as like raw data or a bit of information that gets your attention, you know, you walk into the kitchen and you see a plate of cookies
So that's like a visual cue in that case. It doesn't have to be visual but it often is humans are very visual creatures. The second stage is your interpretation of that q and this is like a key step that's often missed or glossed over when people talk about habits, but how you interpret the cues in your life is heavily dependent on. Your beliefs the people that are around you and a variety of other factors your current state but your interpretation determines the response that follows.
So, you know, you can imagine two people walk into a room and see like a pack of cigarettes on a table for one person if there are smoker they interpret it as oh, you know, I'm kind of craving I should smoke. The other person if they've never smoke just like she's fact cigarettes like doesn't mean anything so same cue very different interpretation and as a result very different response. So there's the craving, there's the interpretation which I call the cue the data
That's the first step then there's the craving which is the interpretation of the cue then the response the actual Behavior you take and finally there's a reward some kind of benefit from it. So to go back to that example, I just use about the cookie. So you walk into the kitchen you see a plate of cookies that's a cue, if you are say hungry, you might interpret that as oh I should eat one of those will be tasty and be sugary or be good response. You eat the cookie and then the reward is two things one.
You satisfy the craving that you had right before hand your expectation. And you also reinforce the behavior for next time the reward is sort of like a positive emotional signal in your brain and it's like hey this feel good. You should do this again next time and so if you have that positive emotional signal you have a reason to repeat the process again.
So those four stages are kind of a form like a loop. And as it gets reinforced the as Luke, it's reinforced behavior becomes tighter and more fluent and more automatic and so on. However, you can just as easily imagine a situation where you walk in and you see a plate of cookies and say like you just finished a big meal in the other room. And your current state is different.
So now your prediction is different. You see any like, oh, I'm stuffed. I don't want to eat anything and so different prediction or different craving and so you get a different response and then the behavior doesn't occur where in that case the reward is that you don't eat the cookie or that you avoid the pain. So to speak of stuffing yourself even Fuller, but my point here is that.
When it comes to procrastination or bad habits or things that we'd like to avoid it's often true that as soon as you see the cue. The craving arises naturally but your question was what about this writing a but what about these good habits, you know, like did you have this craving to sit down and write and the answer is that early on the answer is often no, you don't.
And so it becomes important to focus on you can think of sort of like each of these four stages. I in the book I have what I call the four laws of behavior change. So there's one for each stage and each law is kind of like a lever. And when the levers are in the right positions building good habits is easy.
And when the levers are in the wrong positions building good habits as hard and so if the craving doesn't arise naturally will now you need to focus on like the other ones you need to cue to be really obvious. You need the behavior to be really easy neither reward to be kind of immediate enjoyable. And if you do those well, then maybe you can do it. Even if you're craving or motivation is fairly low.
So let's talk about you and your writing habit. I assume the cue for you since you wrote every Tuesday and Thursday was maybe a calendar event and our alarm or just knowing that hey today is Tuesday. It's time to write. How did you adjust sort of you're craving a response and the reward so you actually built this habit.
Yeah, so there are a couple of different things here. The first one is making it obvious, making the cue obvious. So for me that means timing is can be a crucial thing here. So. I would write early in the morning or late at night rather than during like the middle of the afternoon or something.
I just found that that time wasn't good because I was often getting interrupted or being asked to do other tasks to work on the business or calls or emails or whatever. So. I wake up I take a shower showers kind of like my coffee. That's like how I wake up and get dressed and then I get a glass of water and I immediately open up Evernote and that's where that's like this soon as I start writing.
So the cue there is sitting down with my glass of water and opening up Evernote. As soon as I do that then I have a set of like it's essentially like a log of a bunch of ideas that I've just kind of brain dumped into this Evernote notebook and there may be like 600 or so. They're there right now and I go through that list and start to see like well, you know, are there four or five that are all about the same topic and then I kind of lump them together. And that forms like the backbone of an article and so from that kind of like longer draft or more expanded note.
I can then use that st the start to riff on the article and do some more research and fill in the gaps and so on and then once it gets long enough, I moved into WordPress actually, you know start revising the articles I start at the top and read a sentence and if that's good, I'll read the second if that's good already the third and at some point I get to a sentence that it doesn't sound good yet.
So edit that and then I'll go back to the beginning and start all over again. And that's the key part of the process for me. Like I don't really consider myself very good writer. I think I'm a better editor and so by the time I publish something. It's been revised probably I don't know 50 times probably read through it 50 to a hundred times from top to bottom so that helps a lot. Then the reward is and I didn't realize how crucial this was until I wrote the book with articles the cycle time is very fast.
I come up with an idea. I can work on it like that day or that week or whenever start to build out and it's pretty much written within a few days and they gets posted and then I'm getting feedback almost immediately right like as soon as we email it out. I'm getting emails in my inbox within an hour. Well if you liked or didn't like I'm hearing from people on Twitter and so on.
And that feedback that's kind of the main reward for me and knowing that other people are finding useful or helpful or insightful that gives me the momentum or the energy or the reason to show up again the next day and do it all over again. With the book that was a real challenge because I wasn't sharing it with anybody. I was just writing for a few.
And then I was kind of been like a whole I was in this cave and I would write something and nobody was reading it. So it wasn't until I had an editor help me a few months later that I finally realized man, I just need feedback from somebody doesn't have to be thousands people.
I just need someone to tell me like this is good or this is bad. So that was kind of a lesson there and I think it's also a lesson about habits in general, which is that the more immediate you get a signal positive feedback. The more likely the behavior will be repeated in the future. And if you don't have that immediate signal positive feedback, you don't have much reason to return again that can get depressing or demotivating.
Yeah, I think a lot of founders get stuck on this reward step, especially if it's your very first business you haven't really done much in the past. You can spend a lot of time building something or working on something and have absolutely no audience.
No users and have no real external motivation for why you should continue the slogan of the future. How did you get over that hump in the very beginning? Meaning of JamesClear.com before you had 400,000 subscribers before we had Millions people coming to your website. Was there a period where you would write an article and ever crickets and no response whatsoever
Early on I would get maybe one email from a reader a week. And that one email I can I can still think of one in particular that that was enough to get me to show up again the next week and so you really start to appreciate any bit of encouragement that you get from people any signal that things are moving in the right direction.
The moment one of the most effective forms of motivation is progress. So you need some signals progress to show up again and there are some things that you can do to make this easier like habit tracking is one that can be an effective use for any habit, but certainly applies to business as well.
Like the most basic form of habit tracking is to just get a calendar and then each day the you perform a habit you put an x on that day and I have a friend who's a he's a freelance videographer. And so any day that he does 30 minutes of video editing. He puts an x on the calendar even if you know, you can imagine you're working on a big project and it's taking a while on your you don't feel like you're making project progress.
But if you have that calendar, you can look at it and be like, hey, you know, like I have done this six days in a row now and so seeing that streak can be kind of motivating and that sense measurement can be useful to kind of help you continue to move forward. It's also informative for when measurement is not useful which is you need to pick the right measure because you need to be able to the point of the measure in this case is to see progress.
So they have a reason to show up each day. So you pick the wrong measurement like, you know, this is very common that people are trying to lose weight the scale moves a little bit in the beginning and then when the scale stops moving, it's actually the opposite effect you get demotivated because the measure isn't moving and so then it can be useful to shift to a different form of measurement qualitative or quantitative.
That shows that you're making progress which is why people talk about things like non scale victories like oh my scales and saying but my skin looks better or my mood is better or I feel more energetic or whatever.
But the key point here is that it's really important to feel some type of progress early on whether that's a habit tracker or a little bit of feedback from a reader or user or just like encouragement from your social network. And from people who are effectively on your team other entrepreneurs. That can be enough to get you to show up again the next day.
So let's draw things back for a little bit and I want to ask you how important overall. Is it to have good habits as a founder. I've talked to hundreds of founders over the years. Some of them have terrible habits.
Some of them don't sleep at all. Some of them never exercised. Some of them will toil away in obscurity for months or years without any sort of positive reward or feedback whatsoever. Why is it that some people can succeed with seemingly bad habits, or is it that they actually have good habits that we just have trouble identifying.
Well, there are a couple ways to answer this question. I mean first of all all humans are complex and have good and bad habits. So being nobody's out there like a robot just knocking it down every single time, but the second thing is that habits are only part of the puzzle.
So, you know, let's say that the two pillars of success or achievement that I like to think of our decision-making and have us and so let's say that you decide to be an entrepreneur and you could decide to like open a local pizza parlor or you could decide to start a software company.
Now either way you're going to be working really hard because being an entrepreneur is tough and it's going to take a lot of effort but your initial decision effectively kind of like to start determines the amount of Leverage that's available to you. So you could imagine for example that like if you have this dotted line kind of mapping out from your initial choice, maybe the pizza parlor would be like a little bit of a lower slope or a little bit less of the growth curve and the software company might be more of this like hockey stick style growth more scale and so on but.
How much of the potential of that initial decision how much of that leverage you capture is determined by your habits? So your initial decision determines the trajectory available to you your habits determine how far you walk along that path? And so it's possible that.
You know, you could start to local pizza parlor and if you had really killer habits you could end up more successful than you know than the person who started a software company, but just didn't have good habits and couldn't execute. Now of course the what we all want is to both make great decisions and have great habits. And so, you know, if you're looking at founders who seem to be so flawed in some sense.
I mean again, first of all, we're all flawed, but secondly, it's possible that luck is or this is driving a lot of that. Like maybe they just made a really great initial decision or they caught a really good break and that's helping kind of like provide this Tailwind. It's also possible that they have terrible habits in one area, but they have really killer habits and like a few key areas related to building the business.
Maybe their sleep habits are awful, but they're like sales and Biz Dev habits are amazing. And so there's a variety of lenses that you can kind of look at that problem through but I generally like to break it into decision-making and habits.
Yeah, it's a very clean way to separate it. I want to talk a little bit about the decision-making that you had at the beginning of your website JamesClear.com. What was your vision for your personal blog at that time? And why did you start it?
Well early on I thought was going to be more of a health related site. So I wrote more about strength training and I wrote about health and I was also concerned going to med school at that time. So I was like writing about the Health Care system and things like that and it was all behavioral-based or performance base, but it had more of like a health tilt.
And then gradually I wrote a few articles just about habits in general and those did better. And so I was like, well, maybe I'll focus they're a little bit more and so I wrote a few more of these kind of like I guess we'd call them more like big idea pieces and those did well and so I was like, all right, maybe I should think about this a little more in my MO or my mantra has always been to try to be like a bridge between the academic research in the the scientific, scientifically-based ideas and practical application in daily life.
So, you know, I want to I want. Diaz to be evidence-based but highly actionable and practical and so I started writing more of that style and that caught on better than other stuff. And so I started to shift my focus there. So and I didn't have the language for it at the time but it was kind of that explore exploit trade-offs. I talked about earlier like I was trying things out and then as I started to hone in on what worked I just gradually shifted a little bit more of my energy toward that direction.
And I think what's cool about having a Blog and writing I've talked about this on the podcast before but it's starting a SaaS business trying to code an app for the ground up is tough because in a way you only get one shot. I mean you can iterate on what you've built but it takes a lot longer whereas if you're writing you can crank out an article and like you said 10 to 15 hours.
And see what kind of response it gets and then you know two days later. It's time to kind of got another one. You can sort of iterate based on what you've done before very quickly. And so I think explore exploit ends up being a much more effective algorithm. If you're writing that it does if you are building an app or doing anything else where the cycle times can take months rather than just days.
Yes. That's probably true. I mean the Explorer exploit another. Approach it's basically focused on experimentation and feedback cycles. And if you can this is kind of what machine learning is based around is that if you can run 10 million or 10 trillion feedback cycles, a human could never do that in their life, but a machine can become very good at chess or whatever.
By doing that within just a few days or weeks or however long it is and by getting way more feedback cycles, the machines learns much faster than a human does. And so whenever possible you want to apply kind of some type of similar framework to your own business of life.
How can I test this in a smaller faster quicker way so that I can learn faster because if I can learn faster than I can direct my resources to the right area more quickly. So, you know, I mean, this is part of the idea behind lean startup or a minimum viable product and so on but the key idea is I think a sound and applies to a lot of areas of life which is scale it down test as quickly and as cheaply as possible and try to get feedback and learn as fast as you can.
Yeah, I think one of the most common challenges that entrepreneurs run up against is that we often start off with this massive vision this huge way. We want to change the world. Let's product that we want to create it's going to be magnificent and obviously it's gonna take years to get there and like you said having an MVP or minimum viable product can help you take serve at first bite off of that problem and maybe it's not impressive.
Maybe it's not something that looks great. But it helps you cycle faster and course, correct? And when you have a job when you have a family we have TV shows you want to catch up on when you have hobbies that you want to do. It can be hard to find the time to work on something. How did you in the beginning of JamesClear.com find the time to do all this stuff? And how did you convince yourself to break things in a sort of a small chunk rather than working on some massive business.
Well, it's a good question. I now I think about life is kind of like a series of Seasons. So what season am I in right now and what behaviors and areas of focus are best for that season and so the short answer to your question is that well the way that I did it was by pretty much eliminating everything else. I can just kind of like made it my life and focused on that and there were only a few key areas other areas that fit in there.
So I already mentioned sleep and weight lifting and then I had my girlfriend now my wife at that time. Who was getting some my time, but I didn't spend much time socializing or going out. I was busy working and building my business. I didn't spend time on other hobbies really I didn't have a television so I didn't really watch TV. I am someone who has like a very wide range of Interests. So it's not that I didn't want to do those things.
I think all that stuff is fun and great. It's just that it wasn't the right season for it at that time similarly. And you know, some of this is just like luck with how my story played out my decided to become an entrepreneur earlier. Life rather than later, but I didn't have kids yet. And so that made a big difference whereas, you know, it's in a few years. I have kids that's going to be a very different season and so it'll probably be less career focused and more family-focused.
I still am applying some of these ideas. Now, you know like I would love to learn an instrument or I can't read music. I love to be able to do something musical but it's not the right season for that because every hour that I put toward learning an instrument or learning how to sing or whatever is an hour that I couldn't put toward building the business or being in the gym or doing some of the other stuff that's really important for me in this season. S
o, I mean, this is just it's just about trade-offs and time and everybody faces those trade-offs, but I think you need to be strict about. In the focus of life is like a series of seasons has helped me get over this hurdle of feeling like, oh I want to do it all now rather than being like, well, it's just not the right season for that. I can get to it later.
Yeah, I think that's something that's not talked about often enough because it's pretty easy to look at someone else who's super successful and doing a lot and assume that they're doing everything at once.
You assume that they're building their business and they're watching every episode of Game of Thrones, you know, and they're raising a family and in reality, you know, they're only doing one of those things and reminds me of you mentioning sort of the technique of habit tracking where you set a goal and every single day you do it you put an x on the calendar.
I've done that myself and what happened was eventually I said, well, why don't I track like 15 different habits? Where instead of just one and at that point it all fell apart and I lost the motivation to do because it was just too much.
Yeah, so you don't need to track every habit as you like found out yourself, but I think it's also important to you can bra broadly lump habits into two categories. So the first category or like things that I don't know brushing your teeth or tying your shoes or unplugging the toaster after each use, like stuff that you just do once you get set you don't really need thing about anymore.
Like I don't need a process of continuous Improvement for tying my shoes then there's a second category of habits, which are things that actually are really important to you and you do want to continuously improve.
So for me, it's probably things like weightlifting photography and writing and those areas the key distinction between the two is that those are the areas that you should track and have a process for like reflection review so that you can refine them, but you don't need to like measure and reflect on every habit that you're trying to build.
One of the things I think that's interesting about interviewing you is that most people that I interview are, first name, last name of whatever company. So Austin Allred of Lambda school, but you're just James Clear perhaps of JamesClear.com.
The business how you built for yourself is really kind of a personal brand. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of going that route versus building a business that's entirely separate from yourself.
Well the event the one of the advantages is a very it's good for someone like me who has a brain that likes to jump into bunch of different areas. So right now I just finish this comprehensive book on habits. But if in a year, I want to write a book about decision making or consciousness or some other topic that's interesting to me.
Then I can do that fairly easily, you know, like it's not it's not betterhabits.com in which case I would be kind of locked into, you know, like one type of work or one one type of topic. So a little bit more flexibility that way. I ended up doing it not for that reason though. I did it because I had this spreadsheet of like 300 or 400 names that I brainstormed for the business like what site should be called and you know, of course some of the issue was the dot-coms or unavailable and then some of the other names just weren't that great.
I showed a top ten list to some of my friends and. The feedback was pretty much unanimous people were like, yeah really know these are good things like I agree. So I was like, well if Seth Godin's name is good enough for him or Oprah's name is good enough for her. Like I'll just go with my name figure it out later. And so in a lot of ways, I'm still just figuring it out later, but the disadvantages in the beginning there is a little bit of a disadvantage with not having a brand because a well-chosen brand can help kind of drum up the initial support easier
A well-designed brand gets people to identify with it because of what the brand stands for and so the right name can help with that and can it kind of like pull people in early on however in the long run?
I don't really know that it makes that much of a difference because in the long run any businesses brand is actually the work that they do and not the name or the slogan or other stuff and so in a sense as long as I keep putting out articles that are of high quality and they're scientifically minded and that are insightful and actionable.
That becomes my brand because that's how I show up and do the work every day. So it takes a little while to get over that hump early on because you don't have the body of work to be evidence of that but I think in the long run, that's not that big of a downside. Yeah, but there are definitely pros and cons.
Let's talk about this work that you do because being sort of a personal brand it's not as simple as you make a product and you sell it for recurring Revenue, you're doing all sorts of different things super curious. You got multidisciplinary interests. How do you make money as a personal brand?
Yeah, so that's a good question. And actually it made me immediately think of one of the other disadvantages and this is this depends on what your personality is and what you want out of the company, but I actually it sounds weird for someone whose name is the name of the brand but I have no interest in being famous. I don't want to be known I'd have there's like one picture of me on the website. It's kind of hard to find they're like no.
It's just a very clean site just white background with black text like all of my pictures on social media Army from like very far away. You can't see my face like I'm not interested in being I'm not doing it to be famous. I really want the challenges. I want the ideas to be famous. I want the ideas do well known and well used but I don't really want to be at the center of that myself.
So that's definitely a disadvantage of a personal brand and it's hard because like what are your options you could you could write anonymously I guess which is an interesting option but like a little bit of a challenge with building the brand around that because people. I think there's a little bit of a resistance to anonymous brands people kind of want something to latch onto they want to be able to put you in a box and understand it you could you could write for another company, you know, you could write for the Atlantic of the New York Times or something, but there's you know, then you're not building your own thing, you know of control.
So anyway, that's kind of one of the challenges but the answer to your question. What are the revenue streams? How does a personal brand make money? There are a lot of options that other people are pursuing but I'll tell you the three or four. Focus on on so first one we've already talked about book deal. So I'm publishing this book with penguin random house, which means I get an advance and then you know, if the book sells well, I'll be making money from each copy and so on.
I have a course called Habits Academy which is sort of like the premier training platform for individuals and really organizations that are looking to build better habits in their employees. So if you have a team that's looking to foster that the habits Academy is where I would appoint them.
The book is a great starting point as well, but. The course is more focused for that kind of work then I do speaking events. So I don't want to be on the road a lot. I do about one Speaking events per month. I think you know after the book comes out if I could raise my rate maybe like cut that down and do like one every other month something like that.
That's probably kind of what I have in mind some pretty strict about that already. I've experimented with advertising and sponsorships. I hate ads from a user standpoint. I don't like what I do the user experience. I really like having a clean site. So I keep that fairly minimal, even if we are testing it, but that's one thing we played with and then the fifth option the final area of revenue is affiliates.
So I have specifically said blanket statement. I'm not doing any affiliate deals for online courses or products or anything like that. The only thing that will do it for is Amazon or like like a physical product I got. Camera or something like that.
And so if I mentioned a book an article and somebody buys the book on Amazon that's like 80 cents for me. But if you get two million visitors a month or whatever then that can add up. So those are those are kind of the four or five main areas of revenue.
Yeah seems like a lot of different things that you're doing and reminds me a little bit of the earlier days of Indie Hackers back when I used to try to generate revenue from the site and the community.
I also had like four or five different ways of generating revenue. How do you keep it together? How do you focus and decide which area to pour more of your attention to in any given time?
Well, it's important to remember that a lot of those don't require ongoing work. So, you know think like the affiliate links. Well, once I write the article, it's not I'm putting the link in there anyway, it's not really that much more work to just grab the affiliate version from Amazon.
So and then I just click post and I never think about it. With speaking I do it for that day. But there's no follow-up. I don't do ongoing consulting or anything like that. And then I just have a speaking page on the site.
So I'm not spending any time doing sales or like outreach people just they come through the site to me. So there isn't much work for that. The only ones that really require ongoing work are the book and the course and that's fine because the main work that I do is writing or teaching in a sense.
And so, you know, I'm always writing new articles and this just happens to be the book that I've been working on and then you know some point I'll probably shift and focus on new topics. So it may sound like a lot but it's actually really not that much and when it comes to working on it day to day.
You talk in your book about how having an accountability partner can really improve your ability to form good habits. And I think in the land of Entrepreneurship that person is most likely to be a co-founder who actually helps you start and run your business. How do you think about the trade-off between being a solo founder potentially bringing someone into work with you as a co-founder?
I think if you find it's like hiring so, you know, one thing I've learned as I've been hiring for my own business is that. Making an All-Star hire will make your life five times easier. It's so worth it. But making a bad hire will actually make things worse and I would say that co-founders probably like that. Like if you want to create the hierarchy of building a business.
It's probably like have a great co-founder is that the top then be a single founder is underneath that and then have a bad co-founder is like at the bottom of the run so it can either be way better or way worse. Early on I bet there are all kinds of benefits. If you have a good co-founder, you know, like you have somebody else who's motivated. So it's kind of like having a workout partner, you know, like you might both not feel like working out every day, but one of you will probably feel like putting workout end each day. And so that's enough to give the other person on board.
So it's good for motivation. It's just great to have somebody else for sanity to like go through it and talk about that. I mean most entrepreneurs have somebody they got to talk to, you know, like a lot of masterminds between entrepreneurs and. After the first like five or six months where you everybody gets a feel for their business and then you talk through things like at some point.
It gets it just kind of turns into like a therapy session wherever all the entrepreneurs just talking to each other about what it's like to be an entrepreneur and what they're struggling with and whenever. And that's just because people need that so if you can have a co-founder, then you kind of get that like implicitly or automatically. And then you also get this division of labor, which is great.
I mean for me early on I had those challenges like I mentioned earlier it was like, well, I guess I need to spend 30 hours working on this web design project, even though you know, if you had a co-founder that was good at design or like a program or something like that. Well, then they can do that and that's like right within their wheelhouse of expertise and you could just focus on sales and marketing or something. So the division of labor aspect helps a lot, especially when resources are thin which they almost always are the beginning.
So I think there are a lot of advantages but the downside is that like any team one bad personality can be toxic for the entire culture. And so if you don't get the right person or if people have competing priorities.
Then it actually just ends up creating additional friction and building the business. Then you end up spending all your time on stuff. That isn't even really the work. You're like battling over founder shares or discussing like the direction for the company or you're not even servicing customers anymore.
You're just creating like all this internal conflict. Unfortunately. I've seen it play out that way just as often for my friends as it has played out favorably so when it works it can really work well, but there's definitely.
How do you as a solo founder find people to hold you accountable?
I guess it comes from a couple different areas. Like I mean, first of all like I'm just I'm not perfect. There's a lot of places I should be more accountable to that. I'm not one of the biggest issues in my particular businesses that I'm the bottleneck for a lot of stuff.
So, you know, like I know Lindsey she's like kind of my my marketing master and she like runs all of our marketing stuff in the book launching like a lot of other things and. She's great but men like it sucks for her. She's got a bunch of projects needs to work on. She still waiting on me to get done with like the latest article or the latest, you know, like piece of content or something.
So in a sense, I'm accountable to my employees and my team so that helps a little bit the expectations the rest of the team the readers for me again. This is like a little bit of the unique dynamic because of my business, but I send out an article to foreign thousand people. So I the the quality of my ideas is constantly being held accountable by. The audience if I get something wrong, well, I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible to write an article in please 400,000 people.
You just can't do it. But it actually it ends up benefiting me in the long run because if I get something wrong I hear about it immediately so I can I can update the article pretty quickly. But also I hear about a lot of things that are like on the periphery of what I write about that end up making my future work better.
So like I just wrote a one of my recent articles the whole reason that article came was because I wrote a previous article that a reader responded to and said, you know, this is interesting. But I feel like you missed the boat on this. I feel like you miss this point then I shared a little bit of research and asked like a really good question.
I kind of got my wheels turning and so then I was like, well, this should be a whole separate thing. And so then I end up writing that article and that happens a lot like you forgot this piece of research or you know, what about this example, or have you thought about it from a different angle?
And that's super helpful and ultimately, you know, I've mentioned this already but I care less about me being well-known or anything like that. I care more about am I sharing useful ideas? And so ultimately that's probably the best form of accountability for me is that the the audience come up holds me to that standard?
Speaking of your audience in your users how to habits and habits formations play into the way that you design your website the way that you write your articles. How much thought do you put into your audience developing a habit of reading the stuff that you put out?
The short answer is a lot. I give a lot of thought to the reader experience and there are a couple different things that that I do that's our sort of direct applications of the concepts that I cover in the book. So, you know, I mentioned those four stages earlier and the four laws of behavior change and one of the laws is to make it obvious.
So you want to make the cues that you're asking people to engage with as obvious as possible. Well, I do that all over the website. I kind of run. Every page that's on the website at run it through two filters. So the first filter in my mind is what our returning visitor it's someone's been here before and they're coming back. What are they going to be looking to do quickly?
And how can I make that as obvious in this easy as possible for them to do so, you know, I think there's that famous web design books. Like don't make me think but that is basically bad idea. You know, like how can I show them what they need without them having to think about it or dig around for it and then the second filter is a new visitor.
So if someone you know comes across a call for me on Facebook or Twitter or something and they click through. What is that person for their very first engagement with the site. What are they looking to do and how can I get out of their way and make it as easy as possible for them to do that? That's kind an application of what I call the third Mall Behavior change which is make it easy which is all about reducing the friction associated with your desired task.
So there are all kinds of little ways that I think about that when it comes to how we're laying out an article or how we are laying up the really the information architecture of the site and even the email newsletter itself, like when it shows up in someone's inbox, how can we make that it's delightful of an experience as possible and in many ways design is it's kind of like an invisible service to the reader, you know, the reader is probably never going to say that themselves.
They're not going to say well the line height in this paragraph is like really easy to read or the width of your content feels like it's just right for my eyes on the screen but by doing that stuff and a million other little things it ends up making the overall experience really enjoyable.
That ends up making the habit of reading my articles as satisfying as possible or contributing to that in some way and that of course is what's going to get someone to come back. So there are a lot of ways to apply that I actually put together an appendix for Atomic Habits that specifically about like how to apply the ideas of business and I go over some more examples of that but yeah, I definitely have used in my own experience.
Yeah, I think there's a lot of correlation between founders you spend a ton of time thinking about things from their readers or their audience or their users perspectives and how successful their blogs or their products or their apps end up being because ultimately like the things that we assume people care about are often wrong and if we don't put that explicit time to thinking about what they want and it's really easy to just totally miss.
Well people will only repeat an experience if it's enjoyable and the things that make it an experience enjoyable are not only the obvious things like does this help me make money or does this help solve the problem and I'm coming to you for whatever but also whatever friction is associated with that task.
I mean if it helps you but God there's so much friction with using this product. Then it kind of like it's it's like a leak in a bucket. It takes away from the value that you're ultimately able to hand over to them. And so as many of those leaks as you can plug in a seamless and frictionless, as you can make that experience, what ends up happening is that people feel like oh my gosh.
This is such an amazing positive value. I got to come back here and read this again or use this again or whatever. It's really only with a very detailed focus on the experience that you can end up creating something that helpful.
One of the things I think is challenging about being a founder in terms of habits is that we tend to form a habit of following the path of least resistance. As you said, we like to do things that are enjoyable. We don't like to do things that are hard. It turns out that starting a business is hard and so.
We end up gravitating towards what's easy and we stick to what we know people who are great at sales will often neglect marketing people who are good at Facebook ads will often neglect, you know ranking high in the Google search rankings.
People are skilled designers might overemphasize the importance of design while neglecting other important things. How can we as founders and prove here and break the bad habit of just doing what comes easily.
The common theme with all of those examples that you just gave was that. It felt immediately satisfying to do that thing because you knew you were good at it.
So this is what I call the cardinal rule of behavior change, which is that behaviors that are immediately rewarded get repeated behaviors that are immediately punished get avoided and so it's really about the speed of how quickly you feel successful at something that gets you to come back to enjoy that experience.
So what you need are little bits of reinforcement. They give you a reason to show up again and work on the thing that feels hard to you. So if you're if you're avoiding it's often because you don't think you'll feel some kind of progress or satisfaction after working on it. So there are a couple things that you do. I mean there are external reinforcers that you can use but the ultimate form of this is internal reinforcement or reinforcing your desired identity.
So let's say for example that that you're a person who's really strong with design. And so you tend to overvalue design a tend to not spend enough time on sales and outreach and business development. Well, really what we're talking about doing here is.
Having a little bit of a shift or an upgrade or an expansion of your identity from someone who currently identifies as a good designer to someone who in the future identifies as a good salesperson or someone who's good at partnerships and business development and whatever beliefs you have about yourself.
This is one of the reasons habits are so important. You often hold those beliefs because of the evidence that you have for them. So it's kind of like every vote or every action that you take is like a vote for the type of person that you think that you are. So another way to think about is your habits or how you embody a particular identity.
So if you every time you make your bed you embody the identity of someone who's clean and organized. Every time you sit down to write a blog post you embody the identity of someone who is a writer. Every time you go to the gym you embody the identity of the fit person and eventually this is kind of like a two-way street. Once you build up enough evidence and cast enough votes for that type of identity. You have a reason to show up and do it again. It's like hey, I'm a fit person. I like I want to go to the gym because that's who I am and that's really the ultimate form of behavior change.
It's kind of like true behavior changes identity change because it's it's one thing to say like I am or I want this but something very different to say I am this, you know, like I am this type of person. I'm the type of person who doesn't miss workouts. Once you believe that about yourself then going to the gym feels kind of easy, you're really in a sense. You're not even like pursuing behavior change.
You're just acting in alignment with the type of person that you already believe that you are. And so the question is well, how can I get there? You know if I view myself as a designer, how could I do that? And you know view myself as the type of person who makes to sales calls every day or something like that.
That's where small habits become really useful because they are the method through which you embody this identity and the method through which you cast votes and build up evidence of being this new type of person. And so if you can do that in very small ways doesn't have to be a lot, you know, like I have a friend who is a writer and his habit is just to write one sentence per day and it sounds like nothing, you know, it's like.
Would you do just five push-ups a day a lot of people do like well, no, why would I do that? It's not going to get me in shape. But the point sometimes it's not really about the result is more about reinforcing being that type of person so that even if you have a super busy day or things are crazy and it's not working out for you, you can still write one sentence or do five push-ups and reinforce the identity of I'm the type of person who writes every day or on the type of person who doesn't this work out.
And the same thing applies when building a business you can make just one sales call a day. But each time you do that you're reinforcing the identity of I'm someone who works on Business Development every day.
And eventually it's kind of like adding a little grain of sand to that side of the scale and you start to tip the scales in your favor and actually believe that about yourself and upgrade and expand your identity to include a new skill that you didn't previously identify with. So, I think that that's maybe the practical and long-term way to to achieve that kind of change.
Yeah. It's great to be able to look back. And the past and see that you did something for a few months in a row or a few weeks in a row and say okay. I am the type of person who's done this because I did in the past and so it can't be that scary to do it right now.
I think that's an important distinction between you know, sometimes you'll hear people say things like fake it till you make it but fake it till you make it actually it asks you to believe something about yourself that you don't have evidence for and I believe that you don't have evidence for I mean, there's a word for it we call it delusion.
So it's really important to have habits like that that accumulate evidence of that that as you just said, I've been the type of the this person in the past because now you have something to root the new belief in or the new identity. And so I think that's probably the ultimate reason that habits really matter
I mean we talk about habits a lot for like, oh they can make you more productive or healthy sleep better or make more money or produce stress and all those external results are fine. That's all true. But the real reason that habits matter is that they're the most effective method for upgrading and expanding your identity for believing something new about yourself for like fostering a new sense of self image.
Well, I think that is an excellent answer to end the podcast on James. Thank you so much for coming on the show talking about your book your journey as an entrepreneur and sharing your wisdom around forming positive habits. Can you let listeners know where they can go to learn more about you as a person and also the things you're working on and where they can buy your book.
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. So the book is called Atomic Habits and you can find it at AtomicHabits.com. And also on that page there.
There's a secret chapter that's not included in the the book. There are some audio by chapter by chapter audio commentary guides and files for me where I talk about like why already chapter and thinking behind it. There are a few bonus chapters like the appendix.
I mentioned on how to apply the ideas in the book to business and how to apply the ideas to parenting and then just a bunch of like worksheets and templates and things for implementing the ideas that are in the book. But anyway, all of that is at AtomicHabits.com.
Thanks again James. If you enjoyed listening to this conversation and you want a really easy way to support the podcast, why don't you head over to iTunes and leave us a quick rating or even a review?
If you're looking for an easy way to get there just go to IndieHackers.com/review and that should open up iTunes on your computer. I read pretty much all the reviews that you guys leave over there. And it really helps other people to discover the show. So your support is very much appreciated.
In addition if you are running your own internet business or if that's something you hope to do someday you should join me and a whole bunch of other founders on the IndieHackers.com website. It's a great place to get feedback on pretty much any problem or question that you might have while running your business.
If you listen to the show, you know that I am a huge proponent of getting help from other founders rather than trying to build your business all by yourself, so you'll see me on the forum for sure as well as more than a handful of some of the guests that I've had on the podcast.
If you're looking for inspiration we've also got a huge directory full of hundreds of products built by other Indie Hackers. Every one of which includes revenue numbers and some of the behind-the-scenes strategies for how they grew their products from nothing. As always thanks so much for listening and I'll see you next time.
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