What I’ve Been Excited About (& How I Work)

By Leo Babauta

The last couple of months, I’ve been super excited by a couple of projects.

I think I’ve been afraid to share them with all of you, as I work on them, because I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’ll struggle inevitably, give up, and embarrass myself. So I don’t let you behind the curtain.

But screw that. I’m so excited about all of this stuff that I have to share it with you, my sexy readers.

Today I’m going to share a few projects I’ve been excited about, then a bit about how I work on them.

My new book, Essential Zen Habits

A few months ago, I set out to write a revised version of my limited-edition Zen Habits book that I launched on Kickstarter last year. I wanted to incorporate reader feedback into the 2nd edition, and put it out for a wider release.

Then I struggled with the rewrite. For some reason, I couldn’t get it right. After talking with my coach Toku, I decided to rethink my approach … then I hit on a post by Derek Sivers called “Just tell me what to do.” It was like a lightning bolt in the face, and I spent the next 30 days creating a new version of the book.

The result is Essential Zen Habits — a distillation and revision of the first book, into a series of “just do this” statements. I’ve left out almost all of the explanations and stories, and just have a set of instructions. OK, there are a few explanations, but not very many.

I’m really excited about it, and I’m launching it next week!

I’ll probably release it on Monday or Tuesday, so stay tuned. I’ll have a print version, along with ebook versions. And it’s going to be a simple, easy-to-read, powerful book. I hope it’ll help many people change their lives.

What’s it about? Struggle. Changing habits. Learning to stay with uncertainty, discomfort, frustration, and all the other things we normally run from. And finding a way to peace, and love.

It’ll help you change your habits, overcome bad habits, but most of all, it’ll help you struggle with yourself less.

More in a couple days!

Sea Change Program, refreshed

In the last week, I’ve completely refreshed my Sea Change habit program. I’m so excited about it that I had to rush and share it with you guys.

What’s new? A bunch of things:

Courses: Starting in January, instead of sending you a bunch of articles, I’ll be releasing 6-week courses that are focused on different core habits for changing your life, with video and article lessons, quizzes, and a progress bar so you can see yourself making progress. New Design: with better typography, clearer navigation and more. Quarterly Focuses: I’ll release two habit courses with a specific focus each quarter — Mindfulness, Health, Simplicity and Creativity are the four quarterly focuses for 2016. Habit Mastery: I’m creating an advanced level of the Sea Change Program meant to help you master the skills to form any habit. You’ll go from white belt to black belt in different levels, mastering the basics before going to more advanced skills. This isn’t ready yet but I’m working on it! Habit Done app: I’ve been working with a designer and developers to create a new app (more below).

I see 2016 as an amazing year for all of you, and I’d love to be a part of it. Working together, we’ll become more mindful, healthier, with simpler lives and time for focusing on creativity. All in one year. That’s pretty bad-ass.

Habit Done app

I hired two developers and a designer to work on a new habit app that I’m calling Habit Done. It’s going to be rad.

At its most basic level, it’s a simple habit tracking app that will help you track your progress as you form a new habit, and send you email reminders. That part of the app is already working, and I have beta testers using it already.

But it’s going to be more than that. We’re adding accountability groups, habit tips and articles, nudges and encouragement, and a habit methodology that I’ve been working on for years. Very simply, this is going to be your personal habit coach.

The app is also going to get better as people use it. That means I’ll be learning about what works best to get people to form habits and meet their best intentions.

This is a hugely scary area for me, because I’ve never created an app and I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m also very, very excited about it, and it brings me joy to know that pushing into this fear will help all of you in your lives. More on this in the next couple months!

How I Work

You might be wondering how I work on all of this, what methods I might use. Well, I don’t have any brilliant answers, but I’ll share how I’ve been working.

I work on what I’m excited about. This goes in ebbs and flows, but if I’m incredibly excited about my book, that helps a lot. I lean on others when I get scared. It’s inevitable that my excitement fades and fear comes in, and I want to quit. I mentioned Toku, who has helped me through a lot of the fear, but I also email and call friends and ask them for advice. They often give me reassurance, which helps with the scariness. I take walks. When my mind is overwhelmed, when I’m struggling, when I’m fearful, I take a walk to clear my head. I try to go deeper into the difficult feeling, understand what I’m struggling with, what I’m attached to. It helps me get my head straight. I don’t plan too long term. It’s great to have a long term vision or mission … but I don’t like to have a structured plan that locks me in to a path for a year or even a few months. I like the flexibility of adapting when the landscape in front of me changes, depending not only on me but on how my readers and members react to what I’m doing, on feedback from everyone. So I focus on one or two projects at a time, and try to get them to completion. The danger is that I’ll jump around, so I have to be very aware of the urge to switch to something else. It’s good to develop this awareness. I keep lists. In all honesty, I can’t stick with one list system for very long. I’ve tried them all. What happens is that they get overwhelming, because they’re filled with so many to-dos. So I will always end up wanting to start a new, fresh list. And this works for me. Get everything out of my head, put it on a list, and start focusing on one list item at a time. I take breaks. Not only do I go on walks, but I’ll walk around, talk to my family, read with the kids. Do something to get my head out from the fog, and then I refocus myself. If I’ve been distracted or sidetracked, this break allows me to remember what’s important, and refocus. I work early. I get my best work done early. Later, I get busy with lots of little things, or spend time with the family. So I wrote my book entirely before 7 a.m., usually waking up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. to get the writing done. After I finished the book, I moved to 6 or 6:30 a.m., because I don’t have as much writing to do, but I still try to get the most important things done as early as possible. I get things out quickly. I try not to focus on perfection, and don’t let myself get caught up in one task or part of the project. Instead, I get stuff to people as soon as I can. I’d rather get an article out to my members or readers than spend a couple days agonizing about it, so I press publish as soon as I can. I put out a book or a course as quickly as possible, fixing it after the fact. This means that I make lots of mistakes, which is a downside. But it also means I’m less worried about mistakes, and stuck less often, and I get feedback very quickly.

I hope that was helpful. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I still struggle. But these have been working for me.

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