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My Poker Mindset Journey (pt. 2: Learning to Form Habits)

I have to admit, I never used to have healthy habits. My habits consisted of at least 2 intoxicants before my feet hit the ground in the morning, back in the day. However, keeping up unhealthy habits will almost always wind up at a turning point where one has to choose to continue and get negative results, or change everything. Luckily for me, when I got sick, I decided to change everything... but I had no idea how.

At the time I weighed a little over 450 lbs. and I had all the bad habits someone could have. I had never seen a role model turn their life around. I had never even seen one try. I did what anyone in our modern age would do to learn about it... I searched the word "Motivation" on YouTube.

Meeting the King of Self-Help

I found the corniest shit first, most of which was useless, but then I found arguably the corniest guy of all time, and it worked for me. His name was Tony Robbins and he had a huge head, an even bigger mouth, and the craziest monster voice I've ever heard. But the things he said were new and exciting to me.

He basically said that everyone falls into shitty patterns like the one I was in. He also said the secret was to figure out some goals, figure out a plan to reach those goals, and to make sure a day never went by (or at least not two in a row) where those goals weren't being worked towards.

The thing I liked about him was, he didn't make it seem easy. He made it seem like I needed to change everything about how I was thinking and acting. That sounded about right to me, because all I knew at that point was that I had been doing everything wrong so far in my life. A complete flip of the script was precisely what was called for.

I listened to him for a few days and quickly realized he kind of says that same thing over and over and then tries to sell you a ticket to one of his weekend retreats. However, watching a ton of his videos had completely changed my YT algorithm and now I was in the inspiration/self-help/philosophy lane and I loved it.

Going All In On Reading

I also started reading every book that was mentioned in one of those videos and very quickly had a library of philosophy and self-help books. They were all helpful in their own ways, but the one that really made a difference in my habits was called Atomic Habits. It was a hugely popular book with suggestions on how to replace bad habits with good ones. The other thing I liked about it was that it was simple but specific. At the end of the book I felt like I was ready to make a plan and act on it.

Below I will summarize the book Atomic Habits, which I suggest you read in its entirety on your own.

If you would like to support us while also buying the book ATOMIC HABITS click below:

Atomic Habits Book Summary:

Chapter 1 - The Surprising Power of Atomic Habits

  • Where you are aiming with your current habits is more important than where you are right now.

  • It takes time to see results from habits, so your results are always lagging.

  • Breakthrough moments are often the result of all the things which lead up to them. Each repetition of a habit builds up potential energy aiming towards these breakthroughs.

  • If you can't get new habits to stick, the problem isn't you, your system needs to be reworked until you find consistency.

  • Rising to the level of your goals is a fiction. You will always sink to the level of your worst system.

  • If you want to improve your results, focus on perfecting your systems.

Chapter 2 - How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)

  • Lasting behaviour change is identity change.

    • The goal is not to read one book, the goal is to become a reader.

  • Who you are as a person is born from the habits in your life.

  • Every piece of incremental progress is a success. While you read a single page, you are a reader.

  • Every single action you take is a step towards the person you want to become.

Chapter 3 - How to Build Better Habits in 4 Simple Steps

  • Habits give you more freedom over time, they don't take it away.

  • The habit building process can be divided into four core steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.

  • How to Create a Good Habit

  • The 1st law (Cue): Try to make the cue that sets you into motion unavoidable.

  • The 2nd law (Craving): Create a situation where it is attractive to you to act.

  • The 3rd law (Response): Make it easy. Don't start off too big. Make it so easy it becomes stupid to avoid it.

  • The 4th law (Reward): Make it fulfilling to you.

    • If we reverse these laws we can use them to help rid ourselves of bad habits.

  • How to Break a Bad Habit

  • Inversion of the 1st law (Cue): Remove any triggers to the bad habit you can.

  • Inversion of the 2nd law (Craving): Figure out why you should be repelled by the habit and focus on that.

  • Inversion of the 3rd law (Response): Make it difficult to go back to your bad habit.

  • Inversion of the 4th law (Reward): Create a situation where the bad habit doesn't hit like it used to.

Chapter 5 - The Best Way to Start a New Habit

  • Stack desired habits with current habits

    • Let a habit you already do become the trigger for a desired habit

  • People often think that motivation is the problem, when clarity of plan and specific steps is causing the problem.

  • Habit Stacking Formula:

    • After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].

Chapter 6 - Motivation is Overrated; Environment Often Matters More

  • Design your environment to motivate you to accomplish the things you want to.  Any VIsual cues you can set up will help. See it, do it.

  • Changing your environment can help you reset and make some fresh change.

Chapter 7 - The Secret to Self-Control

  • The only way to rid yourself of a bad habit is to remove any triggers that can drive you towards it.

  • Don't try to overpower your tendencies, make the easiest to follow path for yourself that leads to where you want to go.

Chapter 8 - How to Make a Habit Irresistible

  • The habit stacking formula is:

  • After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED].

  • After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT TO ADD].

Chapter 9 - The Role of Family & Friends in Shaping Your Habits

  • We try to copy the habits of 3 groups:

    • 1. The Close (family, etc.)

    • 2. The Many (our society)

    • 3. The Powerful (people with status and prestige)

  • A great way to help oneself form new habits is to find and join a goup where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior and (2) you already have something in common with the group, and then try your best to join that group to reinforce positive habits.

Chapter 10 - How to Find and Fix the Causes of Your Bad Habits

  • Using positive language, like "I get to work out" or "I have the time to work out" instead of "I have to" can make you more likely .

  • Ex. I “get” to exercise today, instead of I “have” to exercise today.

Chapter 11 - Walk Slowly, but Never Backward

  • Do the thing you want to do instead of endlessly planning for the thing you want to do.

  • Your success will come from repetitions of a simple habit, not planning the perfect first step.

Chapter 12 - The Law of Least Effort

  • Make the thing you want to add to your routine as easy to do as possible.

  • It also helps to make bad habits, or backsliding behaviors as difficult as possible.

Chapter 13 - How to Stop Procrastinating by Using the Two-Minute Rule

  • A new habit should take less than two minutes to do.

  • Don't make non-specific goals like I will read before bed, instead I will read one page as soon as I get under the covers tonight.

  • Learn to do the thing regularly, then expand upon it.

Chapter 14 - How to Make Good Habits Inevitable and Bad Habits Impossible

  • Friction is the term used in this book to represent a force working against the likelihood of doing something.

  • Try to build a system to inact your habits and let it program you to feel as if your system is automatic.

Chapter 15 - The Cardinal Rule of Behaviour Change

  • What is rewarded repeats.  What is punished does not occur continuously.

  • Find a small reward that works for you and allow yourself to enjoy it when you succeed in your system.

  • Ex.: If you have the discipline to decide not to buy something you want, put that money into savings or investments. Watch that account grow as a reward to yourself.

Chapter 16 - How to Stick with Good Habits Every Day

  • Keep specific notes on your system.

  • Add tracking habits to your new habit stack.

  • Everyone misses a day, but instead of throwing out all your progress, just don't let yourself miss a second day.

Chapter 17 - How an Accountability Partner Can Change Everything

  • Habit contracts, Bets, and Daily accountability posting can all have a huge psychological effect that can increase odds of success.

Chapter 18 - The Truth About Talent

  • Align your habits with your natural inclinations and abilities.

  • Try a lot of things, and when you find an area in which you accel, stick with it, but don't be afraid to try out alternatives over time.

  • You will find your highest level of success when you choose the right field of competition.

Chapter 19 - The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Work

  • You will find the most motivation when you are reaching just outside the zone of your current abilities. About 4% beyond your current level is the perfect zone.

  • Try to create a space and time where you can be "in the zone." It is called flow state and it is the optimal state for achievement beyond what you have done previously.

Chapter 20 - The Downside of Creating Good Habits

  • Upon mastery of a skill, motivation and performance can decline over time.

  • The process of review is never finished. Constant review can help us the chance to fine-tune and update our systems to avoid falling performance or motivation.

  • Make sure to keep your identity flexible. Ex. "I am a guitar practitioner," can become "I am a lead guitar solo practitioner."

Conclusion: The Secret to Results That Last

  • Success is not real, progress never ends. We are all about constant review and improvement of our systems.

  • One who never stops improving their systems, and doesn't quit along the way, will find the best results.

  • Small habits don’t add up. They compound, and compound results are how bodybuilders and billionaires are made.



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