The Habit Guide by Leo Babauta: My Book Reading Notes

The book is a wonderful compilation of tactics which create positive habits. I’m a big fan of Leo Babauta not only because his writing is short and effective, but because his habit tactics worked for me in the past as well.

Book parameters

Cover: The Habit Guide

My Book Reading Notes

This is the first book for which I’m publishing my personal notes. The order of notes follows the order in the book. My notes are a mix of copied content pieces and my own thoughts I jot down while I read the book.


A habit is a fully blown project.

I’m a pretty advanced habit practitioner.

Reading this book, i realized that I’m not a beginner, and that I’m pretty good at keeping certain habits. For example, I’m good at succeeding at monthly trials.

Overcoming procrastination: Master List of Techniques

The bolded ones are the one I’m already practicing:

  1. One habit at a time.
  2. Small steps. (This one is the most powerful one. I wish people knew. See below.)
  3. Deeper motivation.
  4. Fully commit.
  5. Accountability.
  6. Facing the resistance with mindfulness.
  7. Just getting started.
  8. Don’t rely on “feeling like it”. (I wrote about this in 2014.)
  9. Don’t miss two days in a row.
  10. Getting through the Dip.
  11. Journaling and reflecting.
  12. Restarting & re-motivating.
  13. Changing your identity.
  14. Being completely present.

Small steps.

If you’re feeling resistance to doing the habit, make the habit smaller.

Remember that! For example, for my “creative mornings” habit creation, I’m not supposed to sit there the entire morning, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that I regularly show up for creating content in the morning.

My habit is to show up! Every day!

80% of success is showing up. ~ Woody Allen

Deeper motivation: why do I want to do the habit? In order for the habit to succeed, I must have an answer to that.

“At this moment, you should think about your deeper motivation. What will move you to push through the resistance and do what you know you want to do? Don’t skip this step — think deeply about it, and be moved by it.”

I can’t stress the “be moved by it” part enough. I searched and searched and searched for a long time for just the right motivation that moves me to tears, and I found it.

My motivation is this photo:

Iceland waterfall and a bench

Image source

It’s a waterfall on Iceland, obviously. I will get my ass there and sit on that bench. The bench better be there when me and Sasha get there.

Just sitting on a random bench in a random country does not constitute a life’s achievement, nor will it be. I’m using this photo a very vivid, very emotion-enducing symbol of everything I want to accomplish in the next stage of my personal development.

This image is the meeting place between The Present Me and The Future Me. This is where I go talk to Her when I have questions for Her. My latest question for Her was what should I do today to get where she is. She told me to keep the promises I give to myself, and to publish this very book reading note you’re reading now. She said that everything depends on that one small step, today (on a Sunday). I found it hard to argue with Her.

(“The Present Me Meets the Future Me” visualization / meditation I stole from Steve Pavlina. I love it when other people discover stuff that works for me too.)

Strong sources of motivation:

  • Pain
  • Love for others
  • Love for myself (I believe this is the prerequisite for all others on this list)
  • Accountability
  • Social motivation

Babauta: “The key is to think about these motivations regularly, and keep them at the front of your mind as you make decisions about your day and as you face resistance.”

This could mean that, in the morning, when I have the strongest resistance, I need to remind myself why I’m doing this.

I remind myself that I’m waking up earlier so that I could go for a walk, which my body needs to be healthy. And I need health in order to continuously produce content, which I identified as the best marketing that always works for me, and the kind of marketing I enjoy. And when I enjoy marketing that works, I do it! And by doing it, I attract future customers! And partners!

Don’t let it be a question: How to overcome bad mood when the habit is due?

How do you get yourself to do the habit when you don’t feel like it? Don’t let it be a question.

Because if I ask, the answer might be NO. The Desired Future Me will never exist if I keep answering NO.

Just start without asking the question.

In the morning, when I need to wake up, the question can’t be there. I can’t ask: should I sleep in? I must remove the choice!

That’s why I turned snooze off. If I don’t turn on the light immediately, I will sleep in, that’s not good. I can sleep in on the weekends.

Remove the choice, so there can’t be a question. A question presumes that there are two possible answers, but I want to create a situation in which there is only one possible action.

Restarting is a key component of building a new habit.

Re-starting is actually a key skill in forming habits. Start small, get some motivation, and get going again! Don’t let stopping become a big deal — it’s just a bump in the road.

Habits during difficult times:

we have different options when it comes to dealing with our habits during difficult times:

  • we can be mindful and compassionate with ourselves,
  • see our rationalizations,
  • do the habit anyway even if we’re tired or stressed,
  • Do the reduced version of the habit,
  • we can take a break when necessary and just be sure to restart as soon as possible.

Beating procrastination in a second:

Face the resistance, be mindful about resistance.

Babauta: “The solution is to be more mindful, and pause at the moment of resistance and urge to procrastinate. Don’t just put it off, but face the resistance. This is a key habit to change, if you want to beat procrastination and be more disciplined.”

To combat resistance, I need to make a list of tasks to do in advance, so that I don’t have to do the thinking part when it’s hardest to start. Thinking is always hard! Do the thinking part in advance! And in the morning, start with actual tasks, a list of tasks. Commit to only doing one, the easy one. Always have easy tasks on the list.

I should journal about what works for me against resistance.

I should re-read Steven Pressfield.


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