Feb 29 2024


Happy Leap Day!

One of the better books I’ve read in the last 6 months is James Clear’s Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, which provides a great framework around habits. It’s worth a read, whether you’re talking about business habits/routines or personal ones. This isn’t a book review, but quickly while I have you – here’s a summary of his “laws”:

The 1st Law: Make It Obvious
The 2nd Law:Make It Attractive
The 3rd Law: Make It Easy
The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying

Inversion of the 1st Law: Make It Invisible
Inversion of the 2nd Law: Make It Unattractive
Inversion of the 3rd Law: Make It Difficult
4th Law: Make It Unsatisfying

Add to that my other key takeaway, which is that you have to tie habits not just to outcomes but to identities, and…great book! Anyway, my story today is about decisions, and I’m going to quote James Clear’s email newsletter here, at the end of which he credits Tim Ferriss for sparking his thinking. So this is, what, third hand thinking. But it’s a great way to think about decisions, something I’ve written about a lot, including here.

I think about decisions in three ways: hats, haircuts, and tattoos.

Most decisions are like hats. Try one and if you don’t like it, put it back and try another. The cost of a mistake is low, so move quickly and try a bunch of hats.

Some decisions are like haircuts. You can fix a bad one, but it won’t be quick and you might feel foolish for awhile. That said, don’t be scared of a bad haircut. Trying something new is usually a risk worth taking. If it doesn’t work out, by this time next year you will have moved on and so will everyone else.

A few decisions are like tattoos. Once you make them, you have to live with them. Some mistakes are irreversible. Maybe you’ll move on for a moment, but then you’ll glance in the mirror and be reminded of that choice all over again. Even years later, the decision leaves a mark. When you’re dealing with an irreversible choice, move slowly and think carefully.

As someone who loves hats, has had (and seen) his fair share of bad haircuts, and has a tattoo, I can totally relate!