Atomic Habits & Cadence

For the last few months, I've been trying to cultivate better habits. Much of this was after reading James Clear's Atomic Habits, which is the best self-help book I've read in some time. It's simple, clear, exactly as long as it needs to be, and comes in nice bite-sized chunks that are immediately usable.

I wanted a bit more structure than just listing a bunch of habits I want and habits I don't want, though. So I turned to a system developed by designer William Van Hecke called Cadence. It's based on good ol' GTD. But it adds a touch of humanity that I really love.

The starting point is the "cadence" - a "vision of a perfect moment", which you would like to attain at some point in the coming decades. From that, you develop a series of "quests", which are big themes/arcs that you want to accomplish on the scale of a year or two. Below that you have "projects", which are on the scale of days/weeks, and below that are "actions", which are the things you need to do to progress your projects. Every action, therefore, feeds up to helping you accomplish your cadence.

But it doesn't stop there. It adds new habits - which are things you're trying to do more of. It adds defaults - which are activities that you fall back to when you can't, or don't want to, decide what to do. It adds a set of personal rules that you live by, and a personal canon of cultural works that make you feel more like yourself.

Most importantly, it lets you handle all this in your own personal time rhythms.

I'm about two thirds of my way to my first periodic review, and already I've made so much more progress towards completing my quests than I did in the first two thirds of 2019. It pushes me forward in a way that's sustainable and not exhausting.

If that sounds like something that might appeal to you, I recommend checking it out.