There’s a lot of common wisdom around building good habits: stick to a schedule, reject constraints, and seek out great advice.

But science would like a word.

Katy Milkman is an economist and behavioral scientist who has done breakthrough research on how people form (or break) habits. Surprising data from her book, How to Change, shows that flexibility, not routine, is the key to conquering procrastination, exercise, and more.

Environmental changes, even small ones like the start of a new week or a new year (resolutions, anyone?) can be psychologically huge in effecting change. And constraints on creativity often yield better results than unlimited resources.

Science also explains why when it comes to mastering a skill, tis often better to give advice than to receive it.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • Fresh Starts: A change of scenery, living space, or even the start of a new week or year can be the catalyst for enormous personal change. Take advantage of it when you need it.
  • Crediting colleagues: Citing others’ work regularly is such a powerful sign of security and generosity.
  • Flexible habits: Science says they are more resilient than rigid schedules.
  • Constraints: Be like the knitters from Katy’s example. Using less colors can mean bigger creativity.
  • Giving advice can lead to masteryIf someone on your team isn’t quite achieving their best, task them with giving advice. Self-reflection is scientifically proven to increase effectiveness.

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