Friday, October 08, 2021

How to Change

How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Katy Milkman
Copyright 2021
Audiobook (6 hours)

I recommend this book because it was interesting, but if you're looking for techniques for changing a behavior, you'll get ideas here, but not much in the way of actual implementation. Maybe it needs a workbook to go with it.

The book was very well presented and interesting to listen to. The author read it herself.

The book consisted of 8 chapters: Getting Started; Impulsivity; Procrastination; Forgetfulness; Laziness; Confidence; Conformity; and a Conclusion.

I liked the "Chapter Takeaways" at the end of each chapter that summarizing key ideas.

Here are the things I took from this book:
1) Try a "fresh start." This is sort of like New Year's Resolutions, but you can do it on any Monday. Or your birthday.
2) Make your work fun.
3) Restrict choices so you don't procrastinate. Use a self-imposed deadline or a cash commitment app. (If you have trouble with self-imposed deadlines, which I do, I don't know what you're supposed to do here.)
4) Mentor someone else in the thing you're trying to do.
5) Use cues to keep from forgetting. Like, every time I put my toothbrush in its holder, I floss immediately afterwards.
6) Put "emergency breaks" into routines so that if you mess up, say you don't exercise one day, you can consider that your emergency and get back to your routine the next day. Sometimes when we mess up once it quickly slides into a cycle of not-doing.

I knew all of this. You know it too. It was nice to have it spelled out, I guess.

One thing I did not like about the book: the author labeled people as "naives" and "sophisticates." The first are the people who don't use these techniques, or try and fail at them, and the second are the ones who are successful in changing habits and being perfect people.

In a world where we are already so divided, this further division seemed unnecessary and indeed it felt beneath the book.

As one of the "naives" I suppose - or else why read the book - it felt belittling. Most people do not lead charmed lives, and yet the multitudes of life events that may contribute to procrastination issues, for example, are dismissed or not mentioned. 

It was as if the bad world doesn't exist. No mentions of the hill climbing people in certain social classes must do simply to survive. This book was written for people who are already winners or nearly there.

PTSD? Depression? Chronic pain suffer? Some issue other than laziness? Sorry, figure out how to manage it and move on with better multi-tasking. 

The book offered good advice, but perhaps it was missing a bit in empathy. Maybe it needed another chapter to better address the poor naives who cannot climb over the mountains in their way to reach the betterment on the other side. 

The labeling really stood out and it bothered me. I've tried to put it out of my mind for several days and cannot. And so I decided to write about it, for perhaps in listening (and not reading), I missed something that makes this labeling necessary.

But then again, I can't think of any reason to create such labels, other than to point out that some people got it, and the rest of us do not.

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