A mass of habits

At 7:30 this morning I was up and rolling around on my yoga mat. I’ve got a mild ‘winged scapula’ (my shoulder blades stick out a lot because of some weakness in the serratus [1]). It’s caused some issues with shoulder pain and a slight muscular imbalance. I researched it and I’m doing something about it. It’s not the most fun workout I do, but I’ve certainly noticed the difference already.

It got me thinking about the journey to ‘being in good shape’. What does it mean? Isn’t being something really just a series of activities? Creating a workout plan, maybe a diet plan too, fitting in training around your busy life, not neglecting flexibility or endurance, resisting biscuits, buying groceries, cooking packed lunches, adjusting your plan, getting to and from the gym, sacrificing extra minutes in bed…

“We are what we repeatedly do.”


“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits – practical, emotional, and intellectual – systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”

William James

So, if we accept that the ‘doing’ in each day ends up defining our lives, it’s important to think about what it is you want to be, and then set up the ‘doing’ portion according to those aspirations. So let’s say you sleep between 6 and 8 hours. What fills the rest?


Casey Neistat does a fantastic job of explaining this idea here – there’s no bullshit here. It’s such simple advice, and it’s incredibly actionable:

This was the first one of Casey’s videos I ever saw. I’d highly recommend subscribing to him on Youtube. He’s an incredibly hard working, innovative creator. I’ll write about him soon.

You’ve got a certain amount of time each day (24 hours to be precise). It’s up to you how you choose to allocate it, fit stuff in and actually do it. As soon as you have the realisation that your time is scarce, and you have some choice in how you spend it, you can never look back.

If you don’t take action, you’re making a conscious decision that you don’t care about your future.

How do you know what the right things to spend your time on are? Get your thoughts out on paper – it’s cheap.


For a relatively short essay, this required a lot of thinking, and I’m still not blown away by how it came out. I’ll revisit this topic once I feel I can articulate myself a little clearer on the issue.

As usual, here are the various notes this article came from:



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