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⚙️ Catalytic mechanisms: How Bryan Harris builds instant habits

and James Clear’s anti-social media strategy

A couple weeks ago my wife bought me a new insulated water cup with a straw and apparently that’s all I needed to double my water intake 😅

Funny how the simplest things can make the biggest difference.

With that, hope you enjoy Habit Example #56!


⚡️ Estimated read time: 2 minutes 3 seconds.


Habit Example


Bryan Harris may be the king of getting your online business new clients, but he struggled for most of his life to consistently hit the gym.

Until one day, he got desperate.

Or, became a genius.

A desperate genius?

He wrote a check for $1,000 to his trainer Joey. (Separate from what Bryan was already paying him)

“If I don’t show up to the gym, cash the check.”

From that day forward, he didn’t miss a day at the gym for 4 years straight.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (the best selling book of the last 3 years), isn’t immune to bad habits either.

When he found himself doomscrolling Instagram and Twitter more than he cared to admit, he gave his assistant the keys to the kingdom.

On Fridays after work, she’d change his passwords and he’d have to ask her to login for him on Monday of the next week.

This way, he could use the apps for work during the week but go all in on his family over the weekends.

Bryan and James both used a version of something author Jim Collins calls a “Catalytic Mechanism”.

When James was in a good mental space, he made a decision that guaranteed his desired action no matter how he felt about it later.

Just like “good Bryan” wrote the check while in good headspace, so “5am Bryan” couldn’t sleep in and miss the gym (without a serious and very real consequence).

“But Kody, I can’t use catalytic mechanisms cause I don’t have an assistant and I can’t afford to lose $1,000.”

Don’t overthink it. You don’t need those.

7 years ago I was out of shape and for no particular reason decided I really wanted to run 15 miles.

One of those, “just wanted to prove I could do it” moments, ya know?

But I knew just setting the goal wasn’t enough.

So I decided to publicly sacrifice my nectar of life: Ice cream.

And by “publicly sacrifice”, I mean when I was in a good mental space, I quickly told as many friends, family, and coworkers that would listen my new promise:

“I will not eat ice cream until I complete a 15 mile run. Please ask me about it next time you see me!”

And since it’s painful for me to go even a few days without some form of ice cream (I know, I’ve got issues), the self-induced peer pressure was all it took to kick me into gear.

Week 1 I did my first ever 5 mile run.

Week 2 I did 10.

Week 3 I did the full 15.

Just like that, I went from zero miles to over a half-marathon in 3 weeks flat. (not recommended for everyone!)

It wasn’t some fancy workout plan.

It wasn’t a habit tracker.

It wasn’t a life hack.

Just a solid, catalytic mechanism to propel all necessary action toward my goal.

What’s your catalytic mechanism?


Try it


Read Jim Collin’s book (originally posted as a Harvard Business Review Article): Turning Goals into Results

Remember, it’s best if your catalytic response includes ingredients like:

  1. Delegating the responsibility of keeping you accountable to a 3rd party AND incentivise them to enforce it.

  2. A fast, real, serious consequence for when it fails (that you’d do almost anything to avoid).

  3. A simple implementation that after setting up once, could continue working for months or even years to come and keep you on track.







Actual quote from my 4-year-old


Did you know horses can change colors and fight aliens? My friend told me that. Their heart changes their colors and if they bump it then it makes them strong to fight the aliens. So yeah, that’s how they do it.”


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Not ready to go back to reality?

Check out the Habit Example from one year ago today.

- Kody


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P.S. This took 5 hours to write. It only takes you 5 seconds to share.

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