Way of the Duck

by Buster Benson

Product manager on analytics.twitter.com. Amateur behavior change fanatic/skeptic. I tweet 10.4 times/day, retweet 1.4 times/day, and get 2.1 faves/tweet.

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The “I don’t want to” habit

If there is such a thing as “one habit that rules them all” it might be the habit of overriding the voice in my head that says, in the moment, that I don’t want to do something when, in theory, I actually do want to do it.

For those who are really interested in getting to the bottom of habits and behavior change, why not face this conflict head on and turn the act of overriding this voice, itself, into a habit?

Start by committing to do one thing, every day, that:

A) You don’t want to do, and

B) You don’t already do automatically.

It should be something that takes under a minute (it’s really a split second of self-defiance that is the brunt of the work). The specific action that you do can repeat from day to day, as long as you continue not wanting to do it every day, and it continues to be non-automatic.

It’s the anti-habit, in a way. As soon as the action becomes automatic, or

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Tweet fearlessly

I remember when we all blogged like nobody was watching, back in 1998-2003ish. Diaryland -> Livejournal -> Movable Type -> Typepad -> Wordpress -> write my own -> back to Livejournal (yeah, I still use it). I learned a whole lot about Kellianne by reading through 5 years of public Livejournal (she turned them all private after I told her I had read them, though). There were a few big public deals where people got fired or embarrassed by their open writing, and things slowly clamped down and people started acting safer in their writing (and less interesting, in my opinion) (I’m definitely guilty of this too).

I also remember when we used to tweet pretty much anything. Lunches, crushes, opinions of your boss, deep personal thoughts. Maybe not as freely as the blogging was, but still pretty open. Back when nobody was really watching on the Internet.

I’ve always tried to be the same

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The Half Plants Diet

Or, The Blackjack Diet

I’ve been trying to reduce everything I know about health, and behavior change, and habits, into their simplest possible implementations. Here’s one I’ve been kicking around that’s eating related and I’d love your feedback on it (especially if you think you’d want to try to do it with me).

Rather than counting calories, or macronutrients, or taking pictures, or logging everything, or whatever, have only 1 line in the air that you need to think about.

Question #1: Is the current meal more or less than half plants?

What classifies as plants? Unprocessed whole foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds. That’s it.

If it’s more than half plants (by weight, or mass, or just size, however you feel is easiest to judge) then add 1 to your tally.

If it’s less than half plants, then subtract 1 from your tally.

Whenever the tally gets to 10, or -10

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A friendly safety reminder

Are your tweets safe? No.

Are your photos safe? No.

Are your MP3s safe? No.

Are your television shows safe? No.

Are your documents safe? No.

Are your passwords safe? No.

Are your computers safe? No.

Is your job safe? No.

Is your health safe? No.

Are your loved ones safe? No.

Is your money safe? No.

Is your neighborhood safe? No.

Are you safe to drive? No.

Are your investments safe? No.

Is the future safe? No.

Should we therefore panic? No.

In order to feel safe, things need to be permanently fixed in space and time. Isolated from the effects of time, change, evolution, adaptation, shifting environments, shifting priorities, weather, moods, economics, ecosystems, new information, and any outside influence.

In order to make something safe, it needs to be plucked out of the universe and placed in a perfectly contained jar where nothing can ever touch it again. What is that

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App.net and founding communities

Dalton Caldwell’s App.net experiment in proving a market via a Kickstarter-like paid commitment has passed the self-made threshold of being “funded”. Sweet! The novel way of testing a market pre-launch is super interesting and revolutionary in itself. I think we’ll be seeing more of this kind of market-validation spring up as a result of this great example. I funded it at the developer level, follow me here: @busterbenson.

Honestly, Twitter is one of my favorite companies on the planet right now. I think the next 10 years are going to be a really interesting time where Twitter and a couple other services connect people all over the world in new ways and surprising things happen that we can’t even imagine right now. I am long on Twitter.

I’m also really interested in App.net, and think it will not only survive, but do interesting things, ask interesting questions, and solve

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Why “just do it” is bullshit

I wouldn’t say anything is impossible. I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and put the work and time into it.
—  Michael Phelps

The beautiful lie that we all want to believe.

Let’s take this aspirational quote apart a bit just for fun (since I’m sitting at the airport with a 2 hour delay). I think it’s important to understand why we believe these kinds of ideas and can’t help but keep spreading them around.

I wouldn’t say anything is impossible. I think that everything is possible…

The statement “everything is possible” is pretty ambitious. It’s therefore pretty easy to prove false. How about swimming the 100m butterfly in 1 nanosecond? Even light can’t do that. But let’s assume that he’s actually only talking about the set of all things that are conceivably possible given the laws of physics and the human body (Olympic-brand or not).

as long as

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Everything I (currently) know about starting and keeping habits in one long manifesto

Cross-posted on the Bold Academy Blog.

I had the opportunity and honor of speaking at the first ever Bold Academy in Boulder, Colorado the other day. I have been trying to distill many of the ideas we’ve experimented with and learned about in Habit Labs into something that is sharable, and I used this 3-hour talk/workshop as a way to test a first draft of some of these thoughts and got some really great feedback from the group.

Rather than summarize the entire talk, I thought I’d just continue to push forward some of the core ideas for ways to make your habit decisions more fail-proof.

 What is a habit decision?

A habit decision is my made-up term for a sentence you write that describes a change in behavior that you intend on applying to yourself. If we were computers, this would be the script you ran on yourself to change yourself in some real way. Some examples:

“I am going to

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A duck bears no grudges

Habit Labs is ending soon, the third company I’ve started.

The first one, The Robot Co-op, still lives on in some form or another, with 43things.com (and myriad other offshoots). Its question: what do you want to do with your life? Currently owned by Amazon.

The second one, a bar / art gallery / private membership club called McLeod Residence. Its promise: an home for extraordinary living through art, technology, and collaboration. And alcohol. We closed up after 2 years because of a lost battle with city permits, and also because we had no idea really what we were doing.

750 Words led to Locavore and Locavore led to Health Month and Health Month led to Habit Labs and Habit Labs led to Budge and Budge led to a dead end (maybe more like a small cul-de-sac). The last couple years have taught me that my life’s creative purpose comes in the form of a question: “How do we change

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