Ronen Menipaz

Nobody’s gonna fix us for us: 4 lessons I learned from Nir Eyal (the Habits Guy)

The ultimate goal of a habit-forming product is to solve the user’s pain by creating an association so that the user identifies the company’s product or service as the source of relief.

We all tend to indulge in certain habits and actions that influence our lives (one way or another). One of the major things that is problematic today is the inevitable use of technology. I know it’s hard sometimes to not check your phone or laptop. But, really, you’re not missing out on anything, I think you’re there for the thrill of it. That’s why you often hear people become addicted to scrolling and checking their phones.

But how do we know where to draw the line? People like Nir Eyal inspire me to find answers to such questions. I had the opportunity to sit down for an in depth conversation with him, on my podcast Real Life Superpowers, which I co-host with Noa Eshed.

If you haven’t heard about him, he’s a renowned habit-performing expert. His bestselling book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products,” is the tech industry’s guide to securing users who come back again and again. On the other hand his bestseller “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life,” empowers readers with tactics to master their time and focus, and help learn why we do what we do and how to control our actions, through minimizing distractions.

Through the interview, some of his thoughts and statements stuck in my brain and made me think about things that we sort of do via auto-pilot and shouldn’t.

1. The problem is distraction – the solution is to learn how to control our attention to stay focused on what matters most to us

I’m sure none of us will remember the photo we saw today on social networks in 20 years. What we will remember are precisely those moments we enjoyed. So this serves as an affirmation to whatever habit you’re honing to make yourself feel better.

The instant gratification of social media passes – having an emotional memory of something you did doesn’t. That’s what matters.

So what we should do is be mindful, and reduce the time we spend on distractions, in order to prioritize what truly matters. It’s not easy but not impossible.

2. Addiction is a pathological condition characterized by the inability to control or stop engaging in harmful behavior.

When Nir used the word “pathological,” it kind of struck a nerve. That means if you’re not aware of it, whatever is happening will keep happening. And since I’m always on a path to deconstruct something, this is something that got me to think.

To become Indistractable (I love that term), I’ve realized that I’ve still got to make sure I’m not a slave to my habits or addictions. We’re all guilty of it, it just sometimes doesn’t hurt to dig deeper to find out what to cut out for the sake of growth. I would rather be the cause of something happening than let something happen to me unwillingly.

It reminded me of this chart. In the right space, knowing where you stand with all three traits is what keeps the needle moving. Sometimes, we’re not even aware we’re in the middle of the left diagram, right?

So, we should strive to take control of our life and choices.

Nir explained that the key is to start with identifying the internal triggers, such as escaping discomfort in a healthier manner, otherwise they master us. As And in the tech-use context, being aware of ourselves helps. Like he said, “It’s not the devices, it’s that we’re escaping a sensation.”

Then it’s about learning how to respond to those triggers in a way that serves you positively. And it’s not a comfortable process. But after all, “discomfort is part of being a grown-up.”

3. Learn how to deal with discomfort

One key way to do that is to break the discomfort that triggered the need for distraction.

Instead of giving in to our distraction, keep in mind – it’s a signal. Check – is this trigger serving me? Or am I serving it? Once you learn how to take control, you can channel that energy into productive and/or creative pursuits, the trigger becomes a valuable tool for growth and fulfillment.

4. Make traction – If we don’t plan our day, someone else will plan it for us

When our schedule is blank and our to-do list is mile long, too many options exhaust us.

The next step is to plan our day and make traction. We should have a clear sense of our priorities and set aside time for our most important tasks and projects. Often distractions and interruptions are those that leave us feeling drained and unfulfilled.

Most people don’t ask themselves, what do I want to become? What kind of person do I want to be? And then they wake up 5-10 years later and say – what did I do with my life? I’m not living the kind of life I planned on living, that I dreamed of living.”

Having control over your schedules means having control over your day, and furthermore means having control over your life and reaching goals and having the life you WANT to live. But you need to start from somewhere – pay attention to a vision and know WHY; that’s the first cause of anything in your life and business.

Final thoughts

I’ve learned from Nir’s perspective that we’re all skillful at finding excuses. Especially when it comes to distraction and addiction. We all know that it’s harder to step out of our comfort zones (whatever they are) and reach our full potential. But implementing small changes to our behavioral patterns can help us become better versions of ourselves.

About the Author
Ronen Menipaz is an Israeli investor, entrepreneur, tech advisor, and founder of numerous business ventures in the entertainment, adtech, and fintech space, as well as the co-host of the Real Life Superpowers podcast. During his 25 years of entrepreneurial experience, Ronen has been involved with over 100 startups in Israel, 30 of which he founded or co-founded. Two of those startups went public, while five were sold and four more are currently privately profitable companies.
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