20th May 2022

As we penned the final words of our Welcome in All Stitched Up! issue #330, an email arrived from James Clear titled ‘Moving from Two Minutes to Mastery’. The arrival of his email couldn’t have been timelier.

Having just unpacked James’ thoughts on gateway habits where he encouraged us to make a habit as easy as possible to start, knowing how to move on to mastery sounded like a logical next step! 

James’ email opened with the questions he most often receives after telling people about his approach to habits, some of which we’d also found ourselves asking.

‘Am I supposed to stick with a small habit forever? It makes sense to start with something tiny, but how do I know when to scale up?’

As with many things in life, beginning a new habit often brings with it an air of excitement, but over time can start to feel routine and boring. This, James believes, is one of the first indicators that it’s time to graduate the habit to the next level.

You scale up when what was previously challenging is now the new normal.

James suggests two ways in which we can scale up. The first is sticking with the same gateway habit, but increasing the intensity or volume in small, incremental improvements. The other is finding a new detail within our gateway habit to get interested in.

In our case with needle and thread, this means we can either continue to add to the number of stitches we lay each time we thread our needles, or work towards focusing on a new stitch or technique within the project before us.

James likes to term it ‘The Goldilocks Rule’ whereby we should be operating in a zone that’s not too easy and not too hard, but just right. The metric for this is that we’re excited enough that we’re no longer bored but finding what’s before us easy enough that we’ll be able to tackle it 98% of the time, or that we have ‘just enough ‘winning’ to experience satisfaction and just enough ‘wanting’ to experience desire’.

The good news is that if we jump ahead of ourselves and find we’ve moved from ‘just right’ to ‘too hard’, causing us to fall off course, we simply need to return to our gateway habit and start the path towards mastery once more.

Perhaps easier said than done, but what could be simpler?!

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