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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life. (Learn more at optimize.me.)
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Nov 10, 2017

I dropped out of law school before a semester was over but I do remember one Big Idea from Contracts class.

Lawyers like to say that a contract is a good one when there are “bright lines”—when it’s super obvious what everyone is agreeing to. Fuzzy lines? Not so good. We want super crisp, obvious, BRIGHT lines.

Research scientists borrowed that phrase to describe one of the key attributes of creating good deals with yourself as you architect your ideal life.

They tell us that when we’re building new habits, we want to have VERY BRIGHT LINES about what is and what is not acceptable behavior.

For example, when I wanted to quit eating fast food over a decade ago, the fuzzy line I had of “Eat at McDonald’s less often” wasn’t particularly helpful. Every time I’d drive by that McDonald’s on the way home I’d have to ask myself, “Is today the day I get to go there?”

And, when did I go? On the days when I was feeling the worst, of course.

Then, one day, I got BRIGHT with my lines. I decided I would NEVER eat at McDonald's again. Period. Now, of course, I broke that commitment a few times before it stuck, but—and this is an important distinction!—at least now I knew I was breaking a contract with myself. Eventually I dialed it in and kicked the fast food habit.

I did the same thing with ESPN and Google News and the iPhone in bed and countless other things. Fuzzy? Didn’t help. 100% bright? Worked like a charm.

So, how about you?

What’s the #1 bad habit you’d like to get rid of?

How can you move from fuzzy to super bright?

Think about that and get on it.

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