Superhuman by Habit by Tynan: Summary and Lessons

superhuman by habit tynan

“New habits are things that you do, but old habits are things that you are.”

Rating: 5/10

Related: Atomic Habits, The Power of Habit, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

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Superhuman by Habit Summary

Superhuman by Habit by Tynan is a guide on how to upgrade your life, one tiny habit at a time. The last part covers the most common habits and offers practical advice. Good read but lacks a clear structure to make it actionable. Read Atomic Habits instead.

Executive Summary

A habit is an action that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort or thought.

New habits are things you do, but old habits are things you are.

To improve yourself permanently, you must develop more old habits. You do this by creating new habits and sticking with them until they mature into old habits.

Progress lags action. To evaluate your progress in building habits, use your adherence to process, not your actual results.

You can do anything if you break it down into habits and execute on them.

You’ll get the greatest compliance by maximizing frequency and minimizing intensity. Daily habits are hard to overlook or miss, and low-intensity habits are easy to complete.

Bias yourself strongly towards habits that require daily execution.

Whenever you begin a new habit, think about what its trigger is going to be, and to commit to that.

Habit chaining: using habits as triggers for other habits.

Only quit habits when you no longer want to quit them.

Building Habits

A habit is an action that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort or thought.

Habits move things from the “hard” category to the “easy” category, thus freeing up willpower to tackle more of the hard things.

Good habits aren’t more difficult to execute than bad habits, they’re just harder to build.

New habits are things you do, but old habits are things you are.

To improve yourself permanently, you must develop more old habits. You do this by creating new habits and sticking with them until they mature into old habits.

A habit’s power is measured cumulatively.

Consistency is the most important factor. It’s better to maintain a modest life-long habit than to start an extreme habit that can’t be sustained for a single year.

Make your habits easy, but never miss doing them:

  • If you’re going to skip a habit, force yourself to consciously admit that you’re skipping, and articulate why you’re skipping
  • Never skip twice. When you first miss a habit, the next occurrence of it should become a top priority
  • Plan for variances ahead of time. Make it concrete and specify exactly when the variance will end
  • When you don’t want to do a habit, just do a terrible job

Don’t beat yourself up and lose self-esteem whenever you fail because that negativity will counteract the positivity of building habits.

Use your mistakes to focus. They draw attention to an area that needs more attention.

Whenever you stick to a habit, especially if it was difficult or you did particularly well, take two seconds, smile, and congratulate yourself.

Progress lags action.

To evaluate your progress in building habits, use your adherence to process, not your actual results.

Choosing Habits

Figure out which bad habit is holding you back from your goals and attack that habit by replacing it with a better one.

How to discover high-priority habits:

  • The best habit is the one you can succeed at
  • Ask your friends
  • Look in categories that “just aren’t you”

Always assume it’s your fault. Take responsibility for the future by coming up with a plan to change things.

Rather than guilt, discoveries of a potential fault should be seen as major opportunities.

You can do anything if you break it down into habits and execute on them.

There are two types of people: those who find it easier to add new things to do, and those who find it easier to subtract things.

Habits should always follow an actual concrete goal.

Excitement is enough to get you through the first weeks of a new habit. To go further, you need real motivation.

How to discover motivation:

  1. “What good things will happen if I implement this habit?”
  2. “What bad things will happen if I implement this habit?”
  3. “What good things will happen if I don’t implement this habit?”
  4. “What bad things will happen if I don’t implement this habit?”

To make your motivation stick, write yourself a note explaining why you’re going to implement the habit.

You’ll get the greatest compliance by maximizing frequency and minimizing intensity. Daily habits are hard to overlook or miss, and low-intensity habits are easy to complete.

Start small, become consistent, and increase at a manageable pace.

The Magic of Daily Habits

Bias yourself strongly towards habits that require daily execution.

Don’t build habits that can be automated. 

It takes more willpower and effort to alter a routine than simply maintaining it. So you want to have one very strict habit for loading, and then another to maintain.

The purpose of the loading habit is to completely remove all associations with your old habit. Keep at it until you believe that your new behavior is fixed in place, and then switch to maintenance.

To get the most out of the habit-building process, pay close attention to where you have the most difficulty.

Whenever you begin a new habit, think about what its trigger is going to be, and to commit to that. For example: “Every day, as soon as I wake up, I’ll drink tea.”

An honest and introspective look at when you most often exhibit your bad habits can help you find triggers primed for reprogramming. If you realized that you overeat as a way of coping with stress, you’d want to find a more productive way of dealing with that stress to replace the old one with.

Habit chaining: using habits as triggers for other habits.

Allow chains to serve as shortcuts to habit-building, but don’t let them prevent you from executing on habits when they break.

For habits that are very long term or very difficult, ask a friend to help you be accountable.

The rules of accountability:

  • Make it concrete and easy for your friend
  • Report your progress at regular intervals
  • There must be consequences for failure

When to Quit Habits

Only quit habits when you no longer want to quit them.

Certain negative habits will reach beyond their own scope and interfere negatively with other habits. Attack them first by finding their triggers and reprogramming them with new positive habits. 

Negative friends can be a huge hindrance to building positive habits.

If friends discourage the new habits you’re building, it’s your responsibility to deduce the root cause of their discouragement.

Simplicity and freedom from distraction are the core components of the habit builder’s environment.

Be aware of your environment and make changes to improve it.

The only time it’s likely to be helpful to suggest a habit to a friend is when he asks for help or advice on a problem you’ve solved through habits.

Practical Analysis of Various Habits

Positivity Habits

Positivity Towards Yourself

  • Every time you have any negative thoughts, simply think of one positive aspect of the situation. For example: if your car gets towed, you can think about how now you’ll get credit card miles when you pay for the tow
  • After a period of 2-4 weeks, the habit will become almost automatic. Remain vigilant and make sure that you’re still doing it
  • After 3 months, you will have trained your brain to automatically come up with the positives

Positivity Towards Others

  • Whenever you find yourself thinking poorly of someone or in some sort of conflict with someone, force yourself to say to yourself, “Remember that this person is just doing their best and trying to be happy, just like me.”

Health Habits

Eating Healthy Food

  • Replace bad food – refined sugars and grain – with new foods
  • Eat more foods that you like, even if they’re not the healthiest. Replacing French fries with plain kale will be tough, but replacing them with baked sweet potatoes is pretty easy
  • When you enter the maintenance phase, allow yourself to eat unhealthy food under certain circumstances. For example: “100% healthy eating while at home, eat whatever is convenient while traveling.”
  • Plan every one of your meals in advance. Have a default meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for which you always have ingredients on hand

Good Sleep

  • Buy a sleep mask and earplugs
  • Rather than regulate your wake up time, regulate your bedtime
  • Go to sleep nine hours before your alarm time. If you find that you are consistently sleeping until the alarm goes off, move your bedtime back even further
  • Set a strict screens-off time one or two hours prior to your bedtime
  • Record how much sleep you get every day

Meditation

  • Just sit for five minutes in a quiet space, close your eyes, and focus on your breath
  • When you notice that your mind starts thinking about something else, refocus on your breath
  • The loading period for meditating is approximately two months

Working Out

  • Work out three days a week, doing three exercises each day
  • Don’t jump from plan to plan, without giving any one the time it needs to get results

Expansion Habits

Traveling to Unusual Countries

  • There is a difference between going on vacation and traveling. One is an escape from reality, and the other is a means to connect more deeply with it
  • Make a goal of a certain number of new places to visit per year, block out the time for it way in advance, and book at least one part of the trip early enough to commit to it
  • When choosing the places to go, choose places that are radically different from those with which you’re familiar

Writing Daily

  • What you write about and the quality is not important
  • Success is achieved if you sat down and wrote for the prescribed amount of time or number of words
  • If you’re really stuck and want to break the habit, just write about how you’re really stuck and want to break the habit

Pushing Your Comfort Zone

  • This habit works best with the specific trigger of thinking, “I’d like to do _____, but I’m too scared/nervous”
  • When loading this habit, you should do it every single time you have the impulse not to
  • The best examples of cases where this habit comes into play are positive interactions with strangers and trying out new activities

Organization Habits

Daily Imperfect Cleaning

  • Set a lower standard for acceptable cleanliness
  • Every day, clean your house to a “nine out of ten” standard twice
  • Choose specific triggers that happen every day at home, and use them to trigger the habit

The Easy Habit to Stay On Top of Email

  • As soon as you read any email that requires further action, you flag or star it
  • Once per day, go through all of the starred emails and either reply, take the necessary action, or unstar it

Keeping a Useful Calendar

  • Make sure that every single thing gets put on it
  • Whenever you commit to doing anything on any date or are even given a date that will be useful to you in the future, put it on your calendar on your phone
  • When in doubt on whether or not you’ll need a date in the future, put it down

Getting Rid of Stuff

  • Regularly evaluate your possessions and then get rid of things that are burdensome
  • Stuff that you no longer use has negative value
  • Any time you see something that you haven’t used in 6-12 months, ask yourself whether you can get rid of it or not. If you’re at least 90% sure, just do it
  • Choose a spot in your house to move everything that you’ve decided to get rid of, like you closet
  • Whenever that pile gets big enough, get rid of everything in one big batch

Social Habits

Always Be On Time

  • Show up everywhere five minutes early and wait around the corner until the exact right time
  • Once you’re maintaining the habit, you can cut that buffer down for routes you know really well

Delete or Contact

  • Once a month, scroll through your entire phone book. For each person you haven’t contacted in the past month, delete them from your phone or send them a message or make a call
  • Go through your social media friends list and delete people who you wouldn’t want to go have dinner with

Productivity Habits

Twice, Then Quit

  • When you want to quit working for the first time, don’t. Push through and work some more
  • The second time you want to quit, also don’t quit. Push through again
  • The third time you want to quit, go ahead and quit

Eliminate Starting Procrastination

  • Get yourself to start to work earlier
  • Think about the top thing that you want to get done every single day. Then, every day, track what time you started that activity

Plan When Stuck

  • Ask yourself if you know exactly what you should be doing next. If you don’t, set a clock for thirty minutes, and begin planning
  • Start with a long term vision. Give your brain the freedom to unload everything it’s got and curate later
  • The goal isn’t to figure out the one true path to success, but rather to understand what you’re up against. It’s this context that allows you to look at your immediate todo items and choose the best, or one of the best, to attack next

Rating Your Day

  • Every night before bed, rate your day on a scale from 1-10
  • Rate yourself on how little time you wasted, rather than on raw productivity or output
  • Ratings help put slumps into context and motivate you to grind your way out, rather than feel helpless
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Hi, I'm Dan.

I share ideas on productivity every Monday in my newsletter.

 

Strategies, tips, and hacks to work smarter in a short email.

19k productivity geeks read it. I’d love you to join.

Love your stuff

The only newsletter I subscribe to that I actually look forward to

I read your newsletter every week