Building Habits for Becoming a Software Developer, Part II Making New Habits Attractive and Easy

Ideas in this session are adapted from Atomic Habits by James Clear

Slides for this session

Learning Goals

  • Build on your awareness of your current habits
  • Utilize the laws of “make it attractive” and “make it easy” to improve your habits
  • Implement temptation bundling to improve your motivation
  • Apply new strategies within your environment design and everyday process to break down procrastination

This Week’s Career Journal Prompts

  • Reflect on habits from last mod
  • Set intentions for this mod
  • Incorporate temptation bundling
  • Reframe hard habits
  • Follow-up on environment design for your habits
  • Apply the 2-min. rule to help you stop procrastinating

Review

Consider:

  • What is something that is easier, more automatic for you to do now than when you started at Turing?
  • What specific behaviors and processes led to that becoming easier for you?

These examples are habits, born out of feedback loops where we try different things to see what works in order to solve a problem. Think of habits as your own personal algorithm that you follow each time you want to solve that exact type of problem. Want to feel more alert in the morning? Drinking a cup of coffee will solve that problem; therefore, a large majority of Americans have a daily habit of drinking coffee in the morning. We’ve become programmed to respond with that habit to solve that particular problem.

Outcomes-Based Habits vs. Identity-Based Habits

When we talk about habits, we have to be clear what kind of habits we’re talking about. We traditionally think about our habits as outcome-based; that is, we focus on the results that a certain habit can achieve. That’s all well and good for a short-term or one-time habit, but when we think about making lasting change, we want to focus more on habits that are based in our identities.

Why? Our identities inform our habits (and vice versa). If we want different habits, we need to think about the kind of identity we want to inhabit. This means we have to shift our thinking from outcome-based (“I want this”) to identity-based (“I am this”). The process of building habits is the process of adding/updating your identity to become the person you want to be. If the goal is to become an effective software developer, you need to reframe your thinking from “I want to be an effective software developer” to “I am an effective software developer” and then make sure you have the right habits in place to affirm your identity.

Reading from Mod 1 on this topic: Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year

Goals vs. Systems

What is the difference between goals and systems?

  • Goals are focused on the results you want to achieve
  • Systems are the processes to get there

What should we prioritize when it comes to our behaviors? Systems

Why?

  1. Goals are restrictive
  2. Goals are a momentary change
  3. Systems are ongoing – create lasting change
    • What employers really want to see from you

Bottom line: habits free up cognitive space so that you can learn something new

This week’s career journal prompts #1 and #2 ask you to reflect on last module’s habits and think about the intentions you want to create for this module

2nd Law of Behavior Change: Make It Attractive

In Mod 1, we introduced the 4 laws of behavior change and spent time looking at the first one: make it obvious. For ineffective habits, the inverse is needed: make it invisible.

Now, let’s look at the 2nd law of behavior change: make it attractive. The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming

How does something become attractive? It is the expectation of a reward at the end that motivates us to act at all, which leads us to the idea of temptation bundling – linking an action you want to do with an action you need to do. Read this article from Clear to find out more.

3rd Law of Behavior Change: Make it Easy

We talk a lot about putting in reps when coding; why? Because the most effective form of learning is practice, not planning.

So, how can you apply that to your habits? To master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. We are motivated by what is most easy for us, and the more we practice something, the easier it will be. Read this article to understand this more fully.

In this same section of Atomic Habits, Clear writes: “One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where 1. your desired behavior is the ‘normal’ behavior and 2. you already have something in common with the group.”

Consider:

  • How can we build a culture within our cohorts where the desired behavior we all want to express is our collective norm?
  • How will we encourage and hold each other accountable to holding effective habits throughout the entire module?