Hack Yourself with Deliberate Practice

As explained by Yuval Noah Harari, the most important skill for the 21st Century, in our ever-changing environment, is to keep learning and growing.

“I know Alex, but how do I do this?”
My answer is through Deliberate Practice.

Deliberate Practice is a 3-step cycle: Listen > Take Action > Reflect. Then? Repeat.

1. Listen

Steve Jobs: “Can I share my life lessons with you?” Me: “Maybe later Steve, the Bachelor is about to start.”

Steve Jobs: “Can I share my life lessons with you?” Me: “Maybe later Steve, the Bachelor is about to start.”

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. For thousands of years, human beings have been expanding knowledge for you.

We live at a pretty amazing time. Today, anyone with an Internet connection has access to more knowledge than the President of the US 30 years ago.

So the first part is pretty obvious: listen. But be picky. Learn from the best. That means a TED talk by a top scientist who has been researching a particular subject for 40 years. Or Steve Jobs’ life lessons. Or listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcasts on productivity.

The downside is that there is too much information and we tend to feel overwhelmed. Don’t fall into the self-improvement junkie trap. Reading one book after the other is a good start, but that’s not enough.

2. Take action

Me: “Hey Arnold, which books did you read to become so muscular?”

Me: “Hey Arnold, which books did you read to become so muscular?”

It sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, the problem is, we often don’t follow through. As human beings, we don’t always do what we know we should do.

You know you should meditate, exercise and read more, but you still spend 1h a day on Instagram and 5h a week on Netflix instead.

The key is to take simple but consistent actions:

  • Simple because you don’t want to feel overwhelmed and quit. It’s called chunking. You cut your steak in bite-sized pieces before you eat it right?

  • Consistent because we want to create a habit. When it’s done, you won’t need your willpower that much and you can use it for the next thing to tackle.

3. Reflect

Me: “Hey Wim, what is a good morning routine?” Wim Hof: “An hour in an ice bath.”

Me: “Hey Wim, what is a good morning routine?” Wim Hof: “An hour in an ice bath.”

This is the “deliberate” part that helps you grow quicker, which is often overlooked.

Doing something consistently is a good start, but to make it easier and more automatic, aka to hack yourself, you want to create new associations in your brain.

You want to make sure the new behaviour is associated with pleasure. How does it make you feel?

Now your brain identifies exercising, eating healthy or whatever you want to achieve with the better state you’re in later. As you keep doing it, your body and your unconscious mind, having created the new association, will automatically go towards the improved behaviour. No need for willpower or discipline anymore (or not as much at least).

This reflection phase also allows you to adjust on the personal level, instead of simply following guidelines. By adapting the new habit, you make it part of your identity.

A simple example: Eating healthy on a consistent basis

That’s what I now call a feast!

That’s what I now call a feast!

If you want to eat healthy, here is the highway:

  1. Listen: Listen to the current top nutritionists. There is so much bullshit around, so make sure you select the right ones. The knowledge will tell you what to do and reinforce the things you already know. For example, you know refined sugar is bad for you, but if you listen more closely to the reasons, it can deter you from drinking that can of Coke.

  2. Take action: Stop buying these cookies. Or make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. Pick one little simple thing you can start doing consistently Today. Make sure you eat the elephant one bite at a time.

  3. Reflect: 2 hours after each lunch, write down what you ate and how you feel. It may look like this:
    - Burger+fries+beer = sluggish
    - Quinoa salad+kombucha = good mood and productive
    After a while, your body will automatically go for the quinoa salad!

Good job, you’ve just hacked yourself into eating healthy food (and even loving it). I actually wrote a more extensive article on this particular case, but it works for any good habit you want to implement.

Did you get the point?

Using this process and repeating it will make any improvement less daunting so you can grow faster.

Now, if you’ve just finished reading this article, and you kind of think it makes sense, you’ve just finished step 1.

What was step 2 again? “Take action”.

It’s going to be very tempting to click on the next article or go to your Instagram feed. It’s what most people will do. If you want to grow faster, take action now and start our free morning routine challenge.

Now you’ve just done step 2!
During the challenge, you’ll be invited to reflect on how it makes you feel.

💌 Love,
Alex

If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. If it’s private, send me an email at [email protected]