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Elastic Habits: How to Create Smarter Habits That Adapt to Your Day

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Habits That Bend Don’t Break Why do so many sincere attempts to build good habits fail?We try our best to be consistent, but some days are better than others. Inevitably, we fail when “life happens,” because each day we try to hit the same targets regardless of the situations we face. How, then, can we make our habits more resilient to the turbulence of life? By making Habits That Bend Don’t Break Why do so many sincere attempts to build good habits fail? We try our best to be consistent, but some days are better than others. Inevitably, we fail when “life happens,” because each day we try to hit the same targets regardless of the situations we face. How, then, can we make our habits more resilient to the turbulence of life?  By making them elastic. Most people associate “elastic” with yoga pants and rubber bands. But the word also means “resilient”—the ability to withstand pressure. Elastic materials are far more durable than rigid and brittle ones, which will shatter under pressure. The same is true for habits.A traditional habit is unchanging: the same behavior is done at the same time to the same level every day. It works well until the pressures of modern life break its rigid and brittle shell. Elastic habits are fluid: they can change their form and intensity to suit each unique day. They survive busy, tired, bad days. They thrive in better days.  Adapt Your Habits to Survive Threats Nature shows us that biological and behavioral adaptation to one’s environment is the key to survival for all living things: The most resilient bacteria mutate to survive the threat of antibiotics (to our dismay). Chameleons, octopi, and cuttlefish actively change their color to avoid predators and capture prey. Birds migrate, while bears, bats, and chipmunks hibernate to survive winter.  Camels use fat stored in their humps for hydration and energy when food and water are scarce in harsh, arid lands. Living things adapt in many more ways to survive the threats of disease, violence, and natural disasters. Good habits, too, need to survive the turbulence of life so they can benefit us for years, not just days or weeks. With the simple and intuitive Elastic Habits framework, your elastic habits can instantly shrink themselves into an easy win when a difficult or busy day threatens to ruin your habit streak.Elastic habits are the adaptation masters of the habit kingdom. They always find a way to survive, making them virtually unbreakable. Downward flexibility keeps habits safe, but as with animals, adaptation isn’t only for survival. Adapt Your Habits and Thrive  Elastic habits can expand, adding significant upward potential to your life. On any day, you can increase your challenge for a bigger win and reward, so you will never feel held back. Upward flexibility maximizes your potential and keeps you excited about your progress.Elastic habits even have a middle option, a happy medium between two extremes, for “ordinary” days. The up-and-down adaptation of an elastic habit is known as vertical flexibility. There’s also lateral flexibility—the ability to choose from multiple behaviors within a central theme.A standard habit has one win condition. An elastic habit has nine. If traditional habits are a hammer, elastic habits are your grandfather’s garage. When you’re working on a house project, it’s not a burden to have a hammer, a wrench, and a screwdriver—you just select the one you need when you need it. Elastic habits are the same.


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Habits That Bend Don’t Break Why do so many sincere attempts to build good habits fail?We try our best to be consistent, but some days are better than others. Inevitably, we fail when “life happens,” because each day we try to hit the same targets regardless of the situations we face. How, then, can we make our habits more resilient to the turbulence of life? By making Habits That Bend Don’t Break Why do so many sincere attempts to build good habits fail? We try our best to be consistent, but some days are better than others. Inevitably, we fail when “life happens,” because each day we try to hit the same targets regardless of the situations we face. How, then, can we make our habits more resilient to the turbulence of life?  By making them elastic. Most people associate “elastic” with yoga pants and rubber bands. But the word also means “resilient”—the ability to withstand pressure. Elastic materials are far more durable than rigid and brittle ones, which will shatter under pressure. The same is true for habits.A traditional habit is unchanging: the same behavior is done at the same time to the same level every day. It works well until the pressures of modern life break its rigid and brittle shell. Elastic habits are fluid: they can change their form and intensity to suit each unique day. They survive busy, tired, bad days. They thrive in better days.  Adapt Your Habits to Survive Threats Nature shows us that biological and behavioral adaptation to one’s environment is the key to survival for all living things: The most resilient bacteria mutate to survive the threat of antibiotics (to our dismay). Chameleons, octopi, and cuttlefish actively change their color to avoid predators and capture prey. Birds migrate, while bears, bats, and chipmunks hibernate to survive winter.  Camels use fat stored in their humps for hydration and energy when food and water are scarce in harsh, arid lands. Living things adapt in many more ways to survive the threats of disease, violence, and natural disasters. Good habits, too, need to survive the turbulence of life so they can benefit us for years, not just days or weeks. With the simple and intuitive Elastic Habits framework, your elastic habits can instantly shrink themselves into an easy win when a difficult or busy day threatens to ruin your habit streak.Elastic habits are the adaptation masters of the habit kingdom. They always find a way to survive, making them virtually unbreakable. Downward flexibility keeps habits safe, but as with animals, adaptation isn’t only for survival. Adapt Your Habits and Thrive  Elastic habits can expand, adding significant upward potential to your life. On any day, you can increase your challenge for a bigger win and reward, so you will never feel held back. Upward flexibility maximizes your potential and keeps you excited about your progress.Elastic habits even have a middle option, a happy medium between two extremes, for “ordinary” days. The up-and-down adaptation of an elastic habit is known as vertical flexibility. There’s also lateral flexibility—the ability to choose from multiple behaviors within a central theme.A standard habit has one win condition. An elastic habit has nine. If traditional habits are a hammer, elastic habits are your grandfather’s garage. When you’re working on a house project, it’s not a burden to have a hammer, a wrench, and a screwdriver—you just select the one you need when you need it. Elastic habits are the same.

30 review for Elastic Habits: How to Create Smarter Habits That Adapt to Your Day

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lorena

    I have mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the author’s idea of an elastic system of habits that adapts to your changing needs. However, Nietzsche once wrote, “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” I feel like this author would do well to adopt a similar ambition. He takes too long to get to the point and uses too many awkward metaphors. Here are some of the things I appreciated about this book. The discussion of strengths and weaknesses of I have mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the author’s idea of an elastic system of habits that adapts to your changing needs. However, Nietzsche once wrote, “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” I feel like this author would do well to adopt a similar ambition. He takes too long to get to the point and uses too many awkward metaphors. Here are some of the things I appreciated about this book. The discussion of strengths and weaknesses of different sized goals was interesting. I liked the idea of lateral and vertical flexibility and being able to choose between mini, plus, and elite goals each day. There are plenty of examples to understand how the system works (too many examples really—they would have been better in an appendix). I loved the idea of connecting your habits with your values. This is one area where I might actually have preferred a few more examples. I also appreciated the advice about which habits to prioritize, making the elastic habit system efficient, and avoiding choice paralysis and decision fatigue. I’m not inclined to want to track and score habits, but I can appreciate why that would be helpful for some people. I thought Daniel Penz had a pleasant voice and generally did a fine job narrating. You miss some graphics if you listen to the audiobook, but I don’t think they’re essential to understand the material. And the author has thoughtfully provided these graphics on his website, accessible without signing up. I loved the comic for smarter strategies. I think the elastic habit system would appeal to many people, but the book requires considerable patience. If the author had conveyed the content more concisely, I think this would appeal more to the target audience. It wouldn’t have been so annoying in an ebook or paperback that I could have skimmed, but the audiobook really dragged. I was given a free copy of this audiobook by the author and volunteered to provide an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    Awesome!! Another awesome book by Stephen Guise. He knocked if out of the park in this one and I’m just as excited about this as I was with his mini habits book I highly recommend this. Read it if you want to change your life in a positive way with little chance of failing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    When I first saw the information coming out about “Elastic Habits” by Stephen Guise, I wondered how he could have improved on “Mini Habits” in any meaningful way. But let me tell you: I am SO excited about this book and the new habit system he has in place. It’s pure genius! I highlighted like crazy, took lots of notes, and began formulating my new habits about halfway through. Remarkable new ideas, suggestions, and options. I really believe I’ll have greater lasting habit creation than ever When I first saw the information coming out about “Elastic Habits” by Stephen Guise, I wondered how he could have improved on “Mini Habits” in any meaningful way. But let me tell you: I am SO excited about this book and the new habit system he has in place. It’s pure genius! I highlighted like crazy, took lots of notes, and began formulating my new habits about halfway through. Remarkable new ideas, suggestions, and options. I really believe I’ll have greater lasting habit creation than ever before. Thank you, Stephen Guise!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Butterfield

    An amazing book, an even better strategy I’ve been using the Mini Habit system for nearly a year now, and my life has drastically improved. And now Elastic Habits are here, not to replace mini habits, but to improve them. The biggest issue with mini habits is that little voice inside your head telling you you’ll never get anywhere if that’s all you do, as well as the uncertainty of where to go after you’ve done that one pushup for the day. Elastic habits address this issue and many more. Some An amazing book, an even better strategy I’ve been using the Mini Habit system for nearly a year now, and my life has drastically improved. And now Elastic Habits are here, not to replace mini habits, but to improve them. The biggest issue with mini habits is that little voice inside your head telling you you’ll never get anywhere if that’s all you do, as well as the uncertainty of where to go after you’ve done that one pushup for the day. Elastic habits address this issue and many more. Some people might say that this book could have been a blog post, and while that may be true, you’d be missing out if you settled for a distilled version of Stephen’s latest masterpiece. Buy it, read it, love it, and read it again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Davlin

    A great follow-up to Mini Habits. I often did the minimum Mini Habit for the day, and nothing more. While it was better than nothing, this has me pushing myself when I feel like I have more energy and time. I'm already reading, meditating and cleaning more, and I'm excited to see my progress as the weeks go on.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mary Jedde

    This book provided a fresh perspective on how to form habits. It is not as intimidating as other resources I've come across. I am currently on experimentation mode and trying out the concepts of the book. Recommended to anyone who finds it difficult to avoid "the flinch" of starting or trying to acquire a new skill or habit.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Yurasits

    Good expansion from How to be an Imperfectionist after working on mini habits for a while.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Audra

    Absolutely fantastic. A wonderful upgrade/addition to Mini Habits, this book really boosted my confidence in forming and MAINTAINING good habits long term.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Very helpful and an easier way to create the habits you want

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rus Whang

  11. 5 out of 5

    Niko

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

  13. 4 out of 5

    Algirdas

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Layden

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris garvey

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sue Griffith

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tomáš

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Casey

  20. 4 out of 5

    Max Armenante

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  22. 5 out of 5

    jnieuwen

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rayne Sheffer

  24. 5 out of 5

    MR SIMON RATCLIFFE

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anu

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Elias

  27. 5 out of 5

    Abby

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Fonseca

  29. 5 out of 5

    Megan Clarke

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kali

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