Kolja Sam Pluemer

Redundant Habits

How multiple habits for the same goal will prevent you from failing your goals


three people running

Contemporary writing about habit building (like the glorious Atomic Habits) will tempt you to boil down a given goal into it’s absolute, singular, essential habit.

What is that one thing you can do to become fit?

What are the daily five minutes that make an artist?

There is beauty in minimalism. The microscopically sharp habit beats the blunt, undefined goal. Every time.

Yet, there is danger.

Having just one habit for your goal means you are one failed habit away from failing your goal. You will become fit by putting on your running shoes every day after dinner and run at least one minute? Great.

Your running shoes better never break. Or be wet. Or be somewhere, I swear they were just here. City better not do construction on your route. Or neglect to free it of snow one day.

It’s tightly coupled. Bus factor: one. Single point of failure.

You don’t want that, probably.

The fix: Throw more habits on it. Enjoy the dirty stack of semi-overlapping habits. Take whatever system you use to build and track habits, and put some more stuff into it. Everything. Be silly.

For your running habit, here be some ideas:

  • Evaluate whether your you are content yet challenged by your route. Adapt route if necessary (do every 20 days)
  • Evaluate whether you are content with your gear and clothing. If not, schedule the gear’s replacement (=when to go shopping) (do every 90 days)
  • Note down when you will go for the next run (every day)
  • Write down how your last run made you feel (every 4 days)
  • If you didn’t go for a run yesterday, lay out all your running gear in a really convenient place (every 6 days)
  • Consider for 30 seconds whether you are happy with your running habit (every 60 days)

I could go on. But you get the point. Embrace the Swiss cheese. Maybe one of use should go for a run now. Enjoy.