With how highly they’re touted, you’d think we know everything we need to know about habits and routines; But much of what we’ve heard or read about creating, sustaining and breaking them is pop-psychology, anecdote or trend- not rooted in science.
On today’s episode, we talk to one of the world’s leading experts on behavior change and habits: Dr. Wendy Wood. We get her take on what it really takes to form lasting ones, what to do when life gets in the way, and how to get rid of bad habits.
Dr. Wood is the Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Southern California and author of the book, Good Habits, Bad Habits. She has spent the last 30 years studying the challenges of changing behavior, especially how we form habits and why our habits are so difficult to change.
Connect with Dr. Wood:
Linkedin: Wendy Wood
When it comes to public speaking, bad habits can be hard to break. Whether you get nervous before a big presentation, stutter in big moments or lose your train of thought in front of a crowd, we have a workshop just for you!
The Art of Coaching Speaker School is a place to build great new habits, get feedback and craft a message that comes across clearly every time. Only a few spots remain for our next workshop- May 28-29th!
Check out all of our mentorship options at artofcoaching.com/mentoring
Dynamic is our go-to equipment partner. Fully customizable and manufactured in the heartland of America- if you’re looking to outfit your home gym or weight room visit mydynamicfitness.com to get started. Tell them Brett and the Art of Coaching Team sent you!
Speaking of achieving performance, recovery and health at the highest level, we’d be remiss not to mention our greatest partner in the space- Momentous. Check out their entire line of protein and supplements at livemomentous.com and use code BRETT15 at checkout for 15% off!
Brett Bartholomew 0:06
Welcome to the Art of coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom, and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book conscious coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me. And now let’s dive into today’s episode.
All right, one thing I’ve never been a fan of is absolutism, whether that occurs in how we address situations in leadership, the realm of performance, and really just life in general. It is a hallmark reason, by the way that I appreciate organizations like Momentous who is our OG sponsor, they have been providing folks with top tier practical, customized nutrition support for years. Their central goal is straightforward is to provide products that allow you to do more of what you love, the ability to do it at a higher level and for a longer period of time. Don’t get caught up in fad diets and fad products, they give you the straightforward need for the now. So whether you’re a corporate exec, a researcher, a member of the military or just trying to improve how you eat Momentous has you covered, be sure to go to livemomentous.com and use code Brett with two T’s 25 to save 25% Guys, that is a ridiculous offer. My personal favorites are their essential protein their magnesium which I take before I go to bed, fish oil, which I absolutely abused before travel and nightly, and collagen. Again, that is code Brett 25 at livemomentous.com.
Also a reminder that like good or bad nutrition, the quality of our communication or lack thereof, compounds in a way that makes life either easier or harder for us don’t believe me, go out, pay no attention to the way you form your words or how you wield them and see how that turns out for you personally or professionally. This is why we offer training around everything from navigating power dynamics, tough conversations, language centered around your branding and your business, and even how to build more buy in with those you lead through our remote mentoring program. It’s private, it’s personalized, and it’s priced in a way that nearly guarantees that if you do the work, you’ll have tremendous ROI. So to get mentored and work with us in terms of how you interact, how you connect how you build, buy in, go to artofcoaching.com/mentoring. Now again, that’s artofcoaching.com/mentoring. Now it’s open to all professions.
Okay. Today, I’m excited to talk about habits. And I’m excited to talk about that, because frankly, there’s a lot of fluff out there. Every year, it seems like some new book comes out about habits. People want to talk about habits. People want to talk about behavior change. But a lot of times this is really dumbed down. And people don’t pay attention, enough attention rather to the subconscious influencers. I mean, you act as if it takes 30 days to make a habit right now, it’s not that simple. And so us being an organization that loves diving deeper and loves giving you practical information, we wanted to bring in one of the foremost experts in habit development, the person that’s not just going to popularize it and give you something that sounds good or a shareable, but really something that you can dive into and say, Hmm, that’s how this works. What else might this affect and seeing how that research can next and that is Dr. Wendy wood.
Dr. Wendy Wood is a provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Southern California. And she is the author of the book, good habits, bad habits, which is available worldwide on Amazon, and numerous other booksellers. She has spent the last 30 years three decades studying the challenges of changing behavior, especially how we form habits and why our habits are so difficult to change. So I hope you enjoy it. This is for the nerds out there and also just the pragmatics and there’s pairs really well with our episode with Dr. Katie milkman. So ensure that you have your volume turned up your notes pages locked and loaded. And let’s enjoy Dr. Wendy wood
welcome back to another episode of The Art of coaching podcast. I am here with Dr. Wendy Wood. Dr. Wood, thank you so much for joining me.
Dr. Wendy Wood 4:43
It’s my pleasure Brett.
Brett Bartholomew 4:45
Listen, I I’ve been familiar with your work for a while and I have a deep appreciation for it because at art of coaching, we kind of talked about something that isn’t inherently sexy human communication. Yet it’s a lot of these things in the fundamentals of behavior that to either help people because they compound or hurt people because they compound, and you are the world’s leading expert on habits, which is a great example of compounding either the good or the bad. Now fairly naive question here. But I think it’s always good to orient. How would you somebody in your position that studied this for more than 30 years, define a habit?
Dr. Wendy Wood 5:24
Well, habits are learning mechanism. So they’re a way we learn about the world. But with habits, we learn in a different way than what we normally think of as learning, right? We think of as learning what we did in school, things that we’re able to explain to other people, then we know we understand them. mean that’s the kind of learning we’re used to. But habits are a memory system that learns through experience learns by doing. And all mammals have habits and have habit memory systems, your dog has habits, whales have habits, it’s hard to think about. But it is true that we share this form of learning with other animals. And habits form through repetition. So habit memory, is set up to code, repeated experiences it when you do something over and over again, and you get some reward for it. And the reward can be nothing more than just a really good cup of coffee, right? Knowing how to make coffee in the morning. That’s a reward. And once you get that down and you start repeating it, then it starts to be coded in habit memory, so that you don’t have to think about what to do in the future. You get up in the morning, you’re kind of groggy, you stand in front of your coffeemaker, and you just do it. And that’s habit memory.
Brett Bartholomew 7:09
It’s a wonderful explanation. And it coincides a lot with my previous industry in sports performance. You’re trying to create this automaticity of movement, especially when people see things in their environment and these cues and their triggers. I especially love how you define it in one time in particular of saying, hey, it’s how people stick to the changes they make in their lives. And the reason I like that is when you talked about habit there, you really keyed in on the term experience, right? And people can’t stick to things or create this experience unless they’ve had to adapt that learning mechanism. Now, I want to phrase this question carefully. Although it might not come out perfectly. I feel like sometimes we live in this world where people aren’t as experiential, as they should even be anymore. We accrue information constantly. But we’re not always out there trying different things kind of the proverbial catalysing of our own behaviors.
What danger Do you think that leads to if people aren’t, they’re just trying to actually shape and experiment and try new behaviors, maybe even in the face of failing, right, because I think that sometimes why people don’t. And you mentioned this in a variety of research that you’ve written is like that is inherently a part of us creating habits is this consistent learning process? So does that question make sense? You understand what I’m getting out there? Because I could probably phrase it better?
Dr. Wendy Wood 8:28
Well, let me try. Yeah. I think what you’re pointing to is that we have such a detailed information based understanding of the world at this point, we get so much information from all different sources, that sometimes we think we know things without actually experiencing them or doing them.
And this happens a lot with changing our own behavior, right, we make a commitment, we think of all the reasons why we should do something, and we muster our self control and our motivation, and we think that’s going to be enough. That’s going to create the change that we want to see. But really, if you’re trying to create a change that sticks, as you say, habits or how things stick in the real world, if you’re trying to create a change that sticks, what you need to do is you need to keep practicing it. And that doesn’t mean you’ll always do it right. In fact, you learn when you do things wrong. As we’re always being told as uncomfortable as it makes us we still learn something. And so your habit memory is constantly picking up information about what you did and whether it worked and whether it’s something worth repeating or not. And over time, you can really create very detailed specific habits that work in sports that are effective in being a chef, all kinds of things that require repeated very highly skilled behaviors that we don’t think of as habits. But in actuality, sort of they are the infrastructure. They’re undergirded in a way, by habit memory.
Brett Bartholomew 10:27
They’re very much scaffolding as you and I love the way that you definitely read between the sub texts there, right? If we don’t have this experiential learning this experimentation, it’s very hard to find the right habit that fits this life. And you’ve studied this stuff since the early 1990s. if not before, I think one thing that I’m curious, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Dr. Wendy Wood 10:48
For a long time.
Brett Bartholomew 10:49
Yeah. But I mean, that’s tremendous. And in many different contexts. I think sometimes I wonder as well. And I’d love for you to educate me on this. Sometimes people think that this all just comes down to changing beliefs. What’s your thought on that assertion that Oh, habit change is really just about changing beliefs.
Dr. Wendy Wood 11:09
You hear all kinds of interesting things from people who don’t really understand the research on habit, because habits function outside of conscious awareness, right, if this is something your dog is doing, clearly, it doesn’t take much high level cognition, to really form a habit memory. So we explain our habits to ourselves, in ways that do involve high level understanding, and motivation, and self control, that’s how we think they work. So you hear people say all kinds of things about habit memory. I mean, maybe it makes people’s habits understandable to them, which is always a good thing. Right? it is always good. But we’re not really that accurate in our sense of what our habits are, and what they’re not. And I have a little sort of an example, that I sometimes use.
So bear with me here. So probably most of your audience knows how to type really fluently on a keyboard. Because we do so, much of the day, we have to figure out how to do that typing. That’s your habit to type with the keyboard. If I asked you to list the keys on the second row of your keyboard, probably wouldn’t be that easy for you to recreate them, you might be able to over time, but certainly not as quickly as you use them when you type. And that’s the difference between your understanding memory can the explicit conscious memory that you have of typing, and your habitual your habit memory, something we call a procedural memory, which is memory for doing so you can learn how to do things that you can’t really describe. And that’s illustrates the different memory systems that we’re dealing with. So you can’t describe really what you’re doing when you type. That’s the bottom line. And so much of our life is like that.
Brett Bartholomew 13:53
Sure, I think you know, back to, and admittedly, I’m a pretty big nerd. But being a coaching background, we there were constant contexts, whether it is athletes, or executives or members of the military, where we’ve had to try to get them to quote unquote, change their behavior, or what some people will say, change habits, which of course, are not always the same thing. Right? There are components that are integrated, but I think sometimes people use that term loosely. And we act as if just man, why can’t people figure this out? And the article I’m referring to, is when it’s I think it’s been cited over 1200 times habits in everyday life, thought, emotion and action. And you make that point, you make that point very clearly, not all behaviors are preceded by conscious intentions. And so, you know, when I think about people that get really frustrated, why can’t they just do this? Or why can’t they change their habits? They sometimes don’t understand that. It’s not just words, and it’s not even just your example. And it’s not just environmental priming.
Is there anything and a lot of this is mentioned in the book, but are there one or two tips you could give that frustrated person? That means Well, that can’t figure out why His words are priming the environment, coinciding with what you said, Hey, this is not just all conscious thought, is maybe not leading that person to change in the way that they would hope to.
Dr. Wendy Wood 15:10
Yeah, so there’s something that we call habit discontinuity, which is a jargony term that refers to changing the context. Because as I described with making coffee in the morning, your habits are activated by the context around you, you’re standing in front of that coffee maker in your kitchen first thing in the morning. And what you do is you if you have a coffee habit, you just go ahead and make coffee without asking yourself how or what or where. So it’s very much depends on the context you’re in. If that coffee maker changed, or you’re in someone else’s kitchen, you’re gonna have no idea what to do. And you’re going to think carefully. And that pattern, that habitual pattern will not be activated anymore. So one thing you can do to help people change their habits is to change the context, change the cues, I used to love to ski. And one of the things that ski instructors would tell me to do is to ski on different types of skis, very short ones, very long ones, wide ones, narrow ones. And that helps you get control of those habits, because it’s constantly, the contents in the queues are constantly changing. So that’s one way to help yourself and other people change habits.
I mean, it’s one reason why you sometimes hear people say, on vacation, it’s easier to stop smoking than when I’m in my regular life space. And part of the reason for that is because smoking or other unwanted behaviors are not being cued by your living environment in the same way, when you’re on vacation as they are when you’re at home.
Brett Bartholomew 17:11
Yeah, I think that’s a wonderful example, especially as it coincides with situational strength and its influence on context of how should you behave in this environment? You know, and I’m glad you brought up context, because there have been, you know, there are a lot of studies that I think sometimes people misinterpret which you know, that can kind of be easy, although unfortunate when there’s popularization of certain concepts.
But in your book, you mentioned something about the off cited marshmallow study. And it goes, participants who score highest and self control within this study seldom reported resisting desires period, they just didn’t have experience many, or they didn’t experience many unwanted desires in the first place. They didn’t have many urges that conflicted with their goals. Now, before I go on, just giving a little bit of context, anybody not familiar of the marshmallow study? And why this may have led, in your view to faulty reasoning about success? Would you mind elaborating on that a little bit?
Dr. Wendy Wood 18:11
Sure. So this is a study that really took the public’s imagination, and it it got a lot of attention. In the last decade, two decades, it’s with little kids, it was done with four year olds, and they gave four year olds a marshmallow, and told the kids, you can eat it now. But if you do, you won’t get another marshmallow. If you don’t eat it, then you’re gonna get those two marshmallows to eat. So they’re putting kids in a kind of a self control dilemma. Eat one marshmallow now. Or if you can wait, you get two. So the experimenter would tell these little kids that and then leave the room for 15 minutes, and the kids would have to sit there looking at the marshmallow. And if you haven’t seen videos of kids trying to do this, there’s a bunch online and they’re really fun. They’re worth watching. But what the researchers found is that there were some kids, a few of them maybe a quarter, who could resist temptation, and wait for two marshmallows. But majority of four year olds just don’t have that level of self control, to be able to do that, when that’s predictable. But why this research got to be so popular was because the original researchers Walter Michelle and his colleagues followed these kids through life and show that the ones who could resist temptation, they were really successful. They got higher SATs. scores, they were more likely to be normal weight, they had all kinds of beneficial life outcomes that you would think well might be associated with self control somebody who has. And so the argument was made well, this is an indicator of a construct an attribute that you have that follows you throughout your life, and you either have it or you don’t. And so parents were anxiously testing their kids to see if their kids had enough self control. Of course, most don’t keep in mind. That’s normal for a four year old.
But anyhow, so the reason I think it’s such an interesting study is because that’s what captured everybody’s attention. And there was another condition in that study that was really important. I think, what the researchers did in the separate condition in this study, is they gave kids one marshmallow just like the standard experiment, but they covered it with a cake tin. So they covered it, the kid could was told they could pick off the tin anytime they wanted to and eat the marshmallow. But with that 10 in place, most kids were able to wait. So there was a small situational shift that you could make, that made most of the kids into those high self control. Individuals, they all look like they could succeed in life. And why I think that’s so great is it shows one hack that we so often overlook. But it’s important, not just for four year olds, it’s important for all of us, which is your behavior. And whether you give into temptation or able to resist it, and need long term goals. All of that is so determined by the environment that you’re in, and whether you’ve managed to control it in ways that will be useful for you for meeting your goals.
Brett Bartholomew 22:22
And the reason that stuck with me and I appreciate such detailed elaboration is yours, something that our audience deeply appreciates. And I know that the love about your book, is I feel like in now, this is a more meta conversation here in society, we’ve lost that context, we’ve lost this understanding of situational fit, which we really shouldn’t have given the work that Leah Nisbet and Michelle and and all these great folks, including yourself have done that talk about behavior, especially behavior that is, you know, contextually fit or contextual propriety. Another jargon term is it does come down to this situation, you know, we give examples of a look at casino design, look at the things that people do with ambient odor and machine slot machine usage, or just everything is about the environment yet in society, we tend to have this black and white idea of what is great leadership, what is great communication, what is going to dictate whether somebody is going to be successful here or not. And things don’t fit that cleanly. They don’t right, it’s very much this gray area, and there’s not room for misinterpretation, we have to understand that you know, these things, no matter how big our desire for control can’t fit cleanly into a bucket. I mean, am I interpret? Are those ever concerns of yours as well in these contexts?
Dr. Wendy Wood 23:36
Oh, definitely. I think I think Americans in particular, like to think that behavior is under their control, and that they’re in charge, and that if they succeed or fail, it’s because they have willpower. They don’t they have leadership abilities, or they don’t, that there’s something about people that make some successful, and if we can all just figure out what that is. We can be successful, too. But instead, what so much research shows as you’re suggesting is that an awful lot of what our success in life is really a function of the situation’s we’re in. And people there have been a number of observational studies. So what are people doing, who seem to be really successful at weight control at saving money at being productive in life? And if you observe those people, they are like, as you were referring to before, they don’t. They’re not making difficult decisions all the time. They’re not struggling with adversity and figuring out how to do things better. Instead, they have set up contexts life contexts, so that they can meet their goals relatively automatically.
Brett Bartholomew 25:19
Hey, I hope you’re enjoying this with Dr. Wood quick break to thank a keystone sponsor and partner of ours Dynamic strength and fitness strength equipment that inspires guys Dynamic offers the highest quality strength and conditioning equipment that is designed for you your space and your budget made in the heartland of America, which I’m from Nebraska. So I’m sympathetic to that. Dynamic has earned its place in the homes and hearts of everyone from sports teams, colleges, high schools, military installations, and is both a modern professional and a powerlifters. Home, gym really dream come true. And what I mean by that is you have somebody like me that was in the performance industry for 15 years, or you have folks like my neighbors who no one’s in coding and ones in leadership and Lockheed Martin, they just bought both love to come over and get after it. And they have home gyms of their own. So you don’t have to be some hardcore strength person. Like you do need to want equipment that lasts equipment that matches your drive equipment that matches your passion, and your commitment to longevity. So if that is you, and you’re looking for stuff that will last you for a very long time, that will give you a tremendous return on investment, get to Dynamic, make sure you go to mydynamicfitness.com. Again, mydynamicfitness.com, it doesn’t matter your budget, it doesn’t matter your situation in life, they will help you.
Finally, just a little over one month left until the brand new art of coaching speaking school kicks off, if you have ever wanted an opportunity to provide more value to others, an opportunity to share your story and the lessons you’ve learned, or just even the opportunity to sharpen your ability to connect with a crowd. This is it. These events are feedback rich, they’re very intimate, because we want them to be very hands on. They cover everything from delivering a message in front of crowds to delivering to your team, regardless of the message or medium. Because I know some of us have to lead through zoom, some of us can be in front of a crowd, some of us are at the office. Regardless, we will ensure you have every box checked. It’s two days, all ages and professions are welcome. We just have one purpose to improve how we communicate and connect with others. So we can make a lasting difference and ensure that message gets across. So go to artofcoaching.com/speaker. Again, that’s artofcoaching.com/speaker to reserve your spot. We only open this to about 10 people. And even if you’re somebody that we had a great question one time, what about if I have social anxiety? What if I’m not a leader? Yes, that is made for you as well. We are very conscious about these things. We know that getting in front of crowds is not easy for everybody. This is an inclusive environment. It’s a feedback rich environment. It’s something we’re very excited about artofcoaching.com/speaker. All right, back to Dr. Wood.
Dr. Wendy Wood 28:27
They’re not making difficult decisions all the time. They’re not struggling with adversity and figuring out how to do things better. Instead, they have set up contexts life contexts, so that they can meet their goals relatively automatically, by doing what they’ve done before they form beneficial habits, and understanding how to do that how to control your context. So it’s working for you is really one of the keys I think yet habit research is, is demonstrating it’s it’s a key finding,
Brett Bartholomew 29:13
when you look at some of these key findings as well as it pertains to habits that stick and how they frame in accordance with the context how we look at these things. You know, you hear so much again, I think just thrown out there. Oh, it takes 30 days, well, then there’s an average of 66 days. Is there anything you can do that that can influence that more? I mean, the amplitude of things, right? There’s always we know that in anything in life, there’s consequences and there’s rewards and you know, how we perceive those things, how we’re motivated by them in part deals with, well, what you know, what do we have to lose? And what’s the amplitude and the gravitas or the magnitude of that?
When we talk about things like louder cues. You give an example in your book about Uber that I thought was wonderful in terms of how they reduced friction and passenger drop off. Would you mind elaborating into that? Because I thought it was wonderful.
Dr. Wendy Wood 30:09
Well, I think your broader point is that there are things we can do to speed habit formation. So let me say first, that because habits are a learning system, some things are going to take longer to learn than others. So some things are more complex than others, they’re just going to take longer to learn. But as you say, you can control the friction, friction, meaning the resisting forces in the environment that make behaviors more difficult for you. So Uber did this by stacking rides, so that drivers get a new ride up on their screen, even before they finished the previous one. And so it sort of moves them through the whole process and keeps them driving. More than they probably would if they were making a decision each time. But it’s just easier typically, to act on habit than it is to make decisions. Making decisions is a bit slow, it takes a bit of effort, habits are automatic, they just happen. It’s easier. So this was a way that Uber figured out early on to keep drivers driving. But there are things we can do in our own lives that make behaviors easier as well.
So you said Well, before we started this conversation, and we were just talking between the two of us, you said that you’re in school, and really good students have habits, as I’m sure you do, to study. They go places like a busy coffee shop, if that’s the place, they work well, or they go to the library, and they go there. And they put themselves in that context. And they don’t think about distractions or other things they could be doing. Because they’re in the context where they habitualy study. And they practice that they found it easy to do. So they keep going back there. And over time, that becomes their habit. And that’s the kind of thing that all of us can do. There’s great research that people who join a gym and have to travel only a little over three miles to get to the gym, they tend to go on average five times a month. But people who travel over five miles to get to their gym, they only go on average once a month. And that is not the way we think about going to the gym. Right? Right, muster up your self control, you think of your future self, you think of all the reasons why you should do this. And that’s why you go. But instead, you can make it easy on yourself to go more often, just by joining a gym that is close by or that you can integrate into your existing routine. Maybe you stopped by there on your way home from work or on the way home from the grocery store. All these things make these life choices a little easier, and make it easier for them to form into habits because you’re removing friction, or barriers distance is friction.
Brett Bartholomew 33:52
Yeah, no, I think and to coincide with that, you know, something that you had mentioned and quoting from the book, you talked about discontinuity, because there can be big life change or disruption, which I can definitely relate to in the sense that, you know, I’m in school, getting my doctorate, mainly as the backbone of providing research and evidence based practice to workshops. We run in my professional career, right, so I own a business. I’m a father of a two year old, I run a company that is a remote team that is multicultural, my context of my life is tremendous chaos. And so one thing that has always driven me nuts, frankly, about any kind of habit, stuff that has been shared in the past is this idea that it is clean, that it’s just as easy as if I could just wake up and go to Sid coffee shop and yep, let me crack my knuckles open up my Apple MacBook Air and get writing on my thesis. When Reality. A typical week for me and how it relates back to your research is I just ran a weekend workshop. I’m darn near at a million miles flown by the age of 36. I come back, I’ve got to be dad, a husband again. But guess what, we’ve still got to get back into the thesis. I’m working on my second book, I’ve got a context switch code switch, and no place in my home is safe, Wendy.
But what I loved about what your work is, you read something about discontinuity. And the quote was when people told stories of successful life changes, more than a third mentioned changes in context. 36% of the successful stories involve picking up and moving house, even if only for a few months, man, see, and where I love that is I’m of the belief that because my life has not been cleaned, because I don’t have that option to just get into flow state, whenever I want or find that situation, I’ve had to adapt my habits, or I’ve had to discover even unwillingly, new ones that ended up being far better than anything I could have done, you know, in the general sense of what we’ve seen with habit tips. Talk to me a little bit about that disruption, that discontinuity and how clarity can be found from chaos, if you wouldn’t mind?
Dr. Wendy Wood 36:02
Well, I think what your question suggests to me is that most of us are living lives that are balancing in some way, that habits that we want to form with all of the disruptions, innovations that come from, excuse me, that come from being with other people that come from naturally occurring shifts. Having kids is a major disruption, one of the most fun ones, but it does challenge your habits. Absolutely.
Brett Bartholomew 36:45
And so within that, oh, sorry, go ahead. Did you have some data that I was gonna say within that, I think something that, you know, I don’t know, if you ever feel this, you’re very accomplished you you’ve written a tremendous amount of research, you have people all around the world widely talking about how you are the foremost in this area. And so I wonder, do you struggle with it as well? Because we do have this idea in society, sometimes. Oh, like people like Dr. Wendy wood, or people like this? Surely they never struggle with it, because they have the answer for everything.
Is there a time you might be able to give me an example of when, frankly, your life or the situation was kind of messy, and you had to look yourself in the eye and be like, hey, you know, this stuff? Why can you not enact it, that might give some hope to people that appreciate this deeply, but still feel like maybe they’re not quite there?
Dr. Wendy Wood 37:34
Oh, I think everybody has this experience, it would be me, I don’t think you’d be human. When I’ve had children, too, I had two sons, and a job, and a husband, and bills and expectations from my boss at work that I couldn’t always meet. I think as a parent, one of the things you have to handle is, nothing is ever enough. If you’re trying to work. And it’s being a parent in general. I always felt guilty wherever I was. Because I always felt like I there’s another place I need to be, and I’m not there right now. And you just have to learn to be where you’re at, and do the best you can where you’re at. One of my challenges was trying to figure out how after I had my second son trying to figure out how to get healthy again. Like many women, I gained a lot of weight when I was pregnant. And so trying to figure out how to clean up my lifestyle was a real issue for me. And fortunately,
I like to be outside. And so I use that as a reward for going running. And running is one of the most high intensity, low time sinks for exercise. So it really worked for me as a young parent. It allowed me to get back on a healthier lifestyle. So I would go running every morning before my kids got up, which was a real shock right to begin with, but you get used to pretty much anything if and it was so rewarding to me just to have that time to yourself. Because that’s something you don’t have when you have little kids is an a job and whether you have a job or not, you still don’t have time to yourself. So all of these things. Yes, here I am self disclosing. These are my challenges. And we all have to figure out how we’re going to actually I get through them and meet our goals. And the fact that it’s hard doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. It may mean it’s not you. It’s the context you’re in. And you haven’t figured out exactly how to tweak the situation to make the behavior easier. which just sounds too obvious. Oh, fine, I make it easier. Well, actually, that is really important. And to make it rewarding, if you don’t like to run, there’s no way that’s going to become your habit. I mean, you’re just not going to repeat it enough to make it a habit. And most of us don’t like running to start off with, it’s like many things that we do. It’s just, but over time, it gets easier and the experience, if you can make that rewarding, then it’s more likely to become a habit and stick
Brett Bartholomew 40:57
no question. And I really appreciate you self disclosing, because it makes Listen, it makes all the research research even more real, even more palpable, because you understand that this is a everybody, of course, understands it’s a human being working on it, but it brings more vibrance to your work. And it’s a book that actually, you know, people enjoy reading, because it’s like, okay, it’s not I mean, because let’s be frank, that is something that sometimes I feel, especially in the last 10 years, you can read these books, and you can read work, that just seems detached from a little bit of humanity, they don’t really acknowledge the others, and they can make you feel broken with your book, good habits, bad habits really doesn’t. It’s not about being broken. It’s not about you know, any of these things. It’s, about just finding the contextual fit, as you alluded to, what, let me think about how to phrase this, and this may not be an area you want to go, which I’ll respect. How do you respond? This is a selfish question.
How do you respond when there is stuff being put out, let’s say you’ve done more than 30 years of research, and boom, somebody without much background in that legitimate background, puts out a book, and all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, that’s the habit person. And you look at that, and you think, Ah, I mean, on one end, it’s great that this is getting talked about. But on the other end, it’s kind of leading people down this false narrative. And I just feel like this whole world now thinks it’s broken, as opposed to understanding the situation and interactionism kind of aspect of it. So dealing with that aspect, people putting work out there that maybe leads them down the other route. And then the concept that everybody is, I guess, just broken if they don’t have the right habits, the right Act and the right answer for the moment.
Dr. Wendy Wood 42:42
Yeah, so that is actually why I wrote this book, my audience is usually other scientists. And it was a bit of a stretch, figuring out how to write a different in a different way, which you kind of have to, which you’ve obviously figured out, because you need to in order to talk with people who aren’t experts, as well. But it’s really rewarding. It’s great if you can figure out how to do it. So in a way, I kind of appreciate all of those horrible habit books that don’t really tell you anything, that’s true, except what people think. And maybe it works for them. But it’s not necessarily going to work for you. Because it’s not based on any data. So, you know, I feel like I benefited from that, because it motivated me to write my own book, and to try to share what the science actually is in a way that other people can use. And that was my goal with the book. There’s so much out there, there’s so much we know, why do you have to make stuff up? And you don’t, you can actually just rely on the science and then give people approaches and ways of thinking about how to succeed in their own lives. That will actually work for them. So it was motivating
Brett Bartholomew 44:22
for me? Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s a refreshing answer. And I think it’s something that even I’ve struggled with, I’m working on book number two, the first one we self published, this one’s going through a publisher. But it is interesting, because there are certain areas we try to get a little deeper into the research. And you know, I mean, you’ve been through the process, the agent or they come back and they say, Hey, literally dumb it down, or hey, I’m not sure people will take to this and you’re like, Okay, well, that’s not the book I’m trying to write. You know, I’m not trying we’re writing one on context and leadership, not one about a gentleman going into the forest and finding an old man who tells him a parable about chop wood and carry water. Potter, but it is this tug of war, you know where I find out. And I’d be interested in how you handle this, when you do have this third party that is responsible for distribution of these materials. And you know, their context is one in which eight, we want to get this book into the hands of as many people as possible. And then your context is pull, of course, but not at the extent of kind of selling the soul of this book. And somewhere you’ve got to meet in the middle. Or if it’s not the middle, you’ve got to find somewhere to meet. Was that at all your experience with writing good habits, bad habits? Or maybe your second book? Or was it just pretty seamless for you?
Dr. Wendy Wood 45:35
No, that’s definitely that tension is there, and you have lots of discussions with your editor. And I was lucky, because I had an editor at the publishing house I was working with, who really knew he had bought the science. So if I could explain it in a way that he was at all interested in it, he let it go, even if it was pretty complicated, so long as he could see some way that people could benefit from it and reading it. So I think I was lucky. But there’s always that tension. And, yeah, it’s a big learning curve, figuring out where you are willing to negotiate and where you’re not, and what you think is important in a book. And it doesn’t always end up being a best seller. But you know, if you feel good about it, and if it’s a fair representation of the research, you’ve been successful,
Brett Bartholomew 46:41
I think that’s a tremendous thing for people to understand, right? It doesn’t always have to be a best seller. What it does have to have is everyday utility. It has to have everyday utility, it has to be written with honest intentions and practical implications and something that’s evidence based. And you certainly did that, you know. So I want to encourage everybody that has listened to this to go out and buy and live good habits, bad habits, it is available worldwide on Amazon. We will link every single point of where you can get it and where you can access Dr. Woods work.
And Dr. Wood, I just want to thank you for coming on. I’m a complete stranger to you, but hopefully you feel like your time was honored. And I do know I’m just so grateful to talk to somebody that does frankly not beat around the bush and gives research backed evidence in a way that is spoken practically and that people can use.
Dr. Wendy Wood 47:32
It’s lovely talking with you and I look forward to seeing your new book.
Brett Bartholomew 47:36
Thank you so much, guys for myself and Dr. Wendy Wood. This is Brett Bartholomew, the Arctic coaching podcast. Thank you
Did you enjoy the show?
Your support ensures the best quality guests and listening experience.