24 Mar, 2022How to Become Indistractable with Nir Eyal
“A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho
I’ve had a wonderful time with the podcast that you’re about to listen to today. In this episode, listen as Nir Eyal and I discuss how to become indistractable and how this can help you realise who you want to become–your future self.
✅ There is so much comfort in blaming the thing that is distracting you, if you don’t know the root cause of the distraction.
✅ The brain doesn’t do what feels good, the brain does what felt good. It creates a memory or association of what felt good in the past so that we desire it again in the future.
✅ Successful people lean on discomfort and use it to move forward, to be better.
Some important stories in the episode:
✍🏼(4:05) Nir gave the walkthrough how he started working on his book.
✍🏼(8:08) Nir shares about internal and external triggers that distract us.
✍🏼(13:33) Nir gives an example why happiness is fleeting.
Four Strategies on How to Become Indistractable:
✅ Master your internal triggers.
✅ Make time for tractions.
✅ Hack back external triggers.
✅ Prevent distraction by using pre-commitment.
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It’s then all about coaching you to remove the obstacles that are in your way and helping you install the habits of success.
Pete is the author of 20 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY, and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years.
Pete Cohen 0:00
Happy beautiful day. It is Pete Cohen. It is the Mi365 podcast Your Future Self. Now today, my guest is Nir Eyal. And he's the author of Indistractible, and his new book Hooked. This is so powerful what you're about to hear this guy is incredible. Please excuse my audio, we had a few issues with my audio. But you know what, it doesn't make any difference because the quality of the information that you're going to hear is amazing. I will see you after the theme tune.
Pete Cohen 0:59
Nir, thank you so much for joining me for the podcast. I've been super looking forward to this. Tell me how are you? How's it going?
Nir Eyal 1:06
I'm doing really well. Thanks so much for having me.
Pete Cohen 1:09
Yeah, you know, what was fascinating is I came across your book in distractible. And that was just a massive game changer for me. I love books. I've written 20 books myself. But I'm always looking for information that is inspirational, but just kind of based on something which actually makes a difference. And the whole traction thing when I understood what that was and where that word came from. That just blew my mind. I thought, Wow, this makes so much sense. Why doesn't everybody know about this the opposite of USAF distraction, people often think of its focus and know its traction. So please just tell me first off, how did you come across that yourself that that that Latin word? Well,
Nir Eyal 1:53
if we weren't separated by 1000s of miles, I would give you a huge hug, because that is actually what is most meaningful to me as an author. So I'm not an academic, I didn't do the research. In the book, there's 30 pages of citations to peer reviewed studies. My goal with the book was to dive into this deeper truth around why we get distracted in the first place. Because I think that becoming indestructible is truly the skill of the century, right? There's no area of your life that's not affected by your ability to sustain your attention and is truly how we choose our life. But there was just so much rubbish out there about why we go off track people blaming Facebook, and Twitter and television and all the things outside of us. And nobody was looking at the root cause of the problem. Nobody was actually saying, Well, what is the literature out there actually say, what is the psychology study say? And it turns out that the truth is much more interesting, I think. So my job was to take, you know, the 1000s of research studies that I read, which are a slog, they are not fun, they took me five years to write this book, because I, I read countless academic research studies, many of them are, you know, written so that nobody ever reads them. They're read by, you know, a few PhD advisors, and that's about it. And it was in that process that my goal was to explain what I was learning in a way that would be practical, right? So I didn't want some, you know, academic book that you read. Okay, that's nice. But I can't do anything with this. I wanted it to be extremely actionable, because I was writing the book for me. I was getting distracted, I needed a solution. So one of the things that that, you know, really gave me a lightbulb moment was to start it at first principles. Alright, I'm a big fan of Richard Fineman. And he always talked about first principles. And so I just started with the word what, what does this word distraction mean? What is that all about? And it's one of those words that we all think we understand. But when you poke and prod you realize, wait a minute, maybe I didn't understand. So I started with where does the word come from. And the word comes from this Latin root taharah, which means to pull. And you'll notice that the word distraction ends in the same six letters ACTA when which spells action, reminding us that distraction is not something that happens to us, it is an action that we take. So the opposite of distraction. If you ask most people if you really want to see if they know the meaning of a word, ask them the antonym. What's the opposite of distraction. Most people will tell you it's focus. That's not true. The opposite of distraction is not focused. The opposite of distraction is traction traction and dis traction. So traction by definition, is any action shares the same common Latin root of Tahara. It's any action that pulls you towards what you said you were going to do things that you do with intent, things that you do with forethought that move you closer to your values, and help you become the kind of person you want to become the opposite of traction. Of course, distraction. Distraction is any action that takes you away from what you plan to do further away from your value is further away from becoming the kind of person you want to become. So this is really important, because I think it helps us distinguish between traction and distraction for the first time without moralizing and medicalizing. Right I would argue, anything you want to do with your time, you want to play video games, you want want to want to watch television, whatever you want to do doesn't matter. We should stop moralizing and medicalizing this stuff and say, Look, whatever you want to do is traction, as long as it's done with intent. As long as it's done with forethought, that's traction. Conversely, anything that takes you away from what you plan to do is distraction. So now we can start talking intelligently about the difference between traction distraction, so that we can make sure we do what we say we're going to do in life.
Pete Cohen 5:31
I mean, there's so many overheads. And believe me, I've got a lot of hairs on my back. They're all just standing up on end, I figured all their hair I once had on my head is, is all gone south and it's coming out my ears and my back was all just literally standing on end. For so many of the things you said one of the first things he said about you know the truth, the truth is really what's going on the truth of being a human being what is that experience like? And I love the the podcast he did with Lewis house, because you kind of you put him on the spot, you're like, hang on a second, let's talk about you. And I really loved that because you made him look at what he was doing. And you made me look and what I was doing. That was the real key thing for me with the book in distractible I just really put a spotlight on myself. And then I just saw it look your only other going one way. You're going one way, it's your choice. Are you moving forward? So you're going back? Everyone talks about that, right? Are you? Do you have traction? Or do you have distraction? And then what I loved what you said, which has also been a big deliberation for me is that if I'm going to do something like scroll on the internet or watch something, enjoy it, don't see that as something that is oh, I'm distracting myself from from something. But I suppose one of the things I really wanted to ask you is, you know, you talk again, you kind of confirm lots of things, I almost wanted to be confirmed because I can't find too many people who are singing from the same hymn sheet as I am. And that's why it's been really helpful if you don't know this, but you actually inspired me to create an app, we created an app. I basically created it, I decided to create it after finishing the book in distractible. But I'll yeah, no, I mean, it's and then I didn't even know I'm sorry, I didn't know about some of the work that you actually did. Because I didn't dive into the work that you're doing now, which would be great to talk about. But guys, all of you that listen to this, go and buy both of the books, my recommendation would be in distractible or hooked because especially if you're in into understanding what is going on within you, and what is stopping you. So I want to ask you two questions about this. One of them is quite deep. So maybe I'll ask that question second. But the first question I wanted to ask you is and you talk a lot about this about pain that people are in, that causes them to get distracted. And I love the what you when you talk about smoking about why people smoke, but just talk to us a little bit about what you found out about the type of pain people experience that would then make them want to get distracted away from their pain.
Nir Eyal 8:05
Right, right. So you know, the mental image you should have in your head when you're thinking about distraction is that the opposite of traction of distraction is traction. So you can think of two arrows pointing to the left and to the right, traction and distraction. Okay, now we have to ask ourselves, what moves us towards traction and distractions. So you can pick your two arrows point to the center of that number line. And here we have our triggers, we have two kinds of triggers, we have external triggers. These are the usual suspects, right? The pings, the dings, the rings, anything in our outside environment, that can lead us towards traction or distraction. This is what people tend to blame when they get distracted. They say oh, you know, I was going to work on that big project. But then my phone rang or I got an email or my kids interrupted me, right? We we tend to blame the things outside of us. However, studies find that that is only 10% of the time that we get distracted. 10% Okay, it is a source of distraction, but only 10% of the cause. So what's the other 90% the other 90% of the time that we get distracted, we don't get distracted because of what's happening outside of us. But rather we get distracted because of what's happening inside of us. These are called internal triggers. What are internal triggers, loneliness, boredom, fatigue, stress, anxiety, uncertainty. These are the emotional triggers that lead to 90% of our distractions.
Pete Cohen 9:27
And that's why again, when you get to the truth is like look, forget time management, and I love all of the stuff you said about to do let's, let's just have a proper conversation, right? How do you feel about where you are right now? What is the experience like of being you? In fact, I found this out years ago that the origins of how are you actually biblical? I mean, how are you with God? And not that we're gonna have a conversation about God but for me is how are you with yourself and to acknowledge the fact that, like you said that you might be feeling stuck, lonely, depressed, that's the place to start off with, but why Do you think very few people actually want to address the real nitty gritty?
Nir Eyal 10:05
Because there's so much comfort in blaming the thing that is distracting you. But of course, the truth is whether it's too much news, too much booze, too much food, too much Facebook, too much football, you will always find something to distract you, if you don't know the root cause of the distraction. So it's not until we acknowledge this incredibly important fact that time management is pain management. And I would also add to that, weight management is pain management. Money management is pain management. Everything you do, you do for only one reason we used to think that the the seat of human motivation was about the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Yeah, a Freud said this Jeremy Bentham says this, Tony Robbins. Tony Robbins said, it's not true. Neurologically speaking. It's not true. In fact, everything you do everything you do, you do for only one reason. It's not about the pursuit of pleasure in the avoidance of pain. Everything you do is about the desire to escape discomfort. Yeah, everything you do. And so once you realize that fact, right, if you don't believe me, this is called the homeostatic response. Right? So if you, if you go outside, and it's cold, the brain says, Oh, this is uncomfortable, you should put on a jacket. If you walk back in and it's too hot, the brain says you should take your coat off. If you are hungry, you feel hunger pains. So you eat and if you're too stuffed, you ate too much. The brain says, oh, that's uncomfortable, stop eating. So those are homeostatic responses, right physic to physical discomfort. But the same goes for our psychological discomfort. So when you're lonely, check Facebook, when you're uncertain. Google when you're bored, Oh, lots of solutions to boredom, right? We can watch sports, we can look at stock prices, we can check the news. So we can worry about somebody's problems 1000s of miles away as opposed to having to think about what's going on our own life. So once you understand this lens, that every action you take is because of a desire to escape discomfort. Even I know somebody's out there saying, Well, what about the pursuit of pleasure, right? Don't I? Aren't I motivated by the Get out? Exactly. Even the desire to feel good, is psychologically destabilizing, wanting craving, desire, lusting, there's a reason we say Love Hurts cycle. I mean, neurologically speaking, that is exactly how the reward system works. It creates this itch that we seek to scratch. So everything you do Managing Your behavior is fundamentally about managing discomfort. So you
Pete Cohen 12:28
know, actually, you know what, I had one of those, I had that voice in my head thinking, I hope we're recording because we're recording this on multiple cameras. But I just had that voice in my head going, I hope we're recording on here. And I'm so glad that we I can hear that the pain in my body and go, I hope this isn't happening. You know, there's so much I want to say and ask you, I love what you said about happiness as well. Right? I love that. Because I think it's so important. In 2003, we designed an equation for happiness, and it got broadcast in 27 countries around the world. It was a publicity stunt for a holiday company. But I even remember back then thinking, what is the point of life? is life all about happiness? And I thought, no, no, no, life isn't about being happy all the time. But surely we're not designed but to be happy all the time. And I put that thought to the back of my mind. And then when I heard what you said about that, I just thought, oh my God, that's exactly right. Can you explain that in terms of how you see how human beings, what are we wired up to actually to do?
Nir Eyal 13:30
Yeah, yeah, I would argue that we're not designed to be happy for very long, that, in fact, we the brain doesn't do what feels good. The brain does what felt good. So the way the brain gets us to do things is to create an association, a memory of what felt good in the past, so that we desire it again in the future. So the brain gets to do what felt good at the memory of what felt good. So happiness is designed to be fleeting. Think about this for a minute, let's say there was a group of Homosapiens, who was designed who was who had a special gene that made them always happy. There, they were always content. They never wanted more in life. They just were perfectly Zen, what would happen if a group of our ancestors without that gene, without that perpetual bliss gene met these people? I'll tell you what would happen to them, they would kill and eat them. That's what would happen to them. Because having a satisfied species, a satisfied race that you're perpetually happy all the time, is not evolutionarily beneficial. So I argue, we are designed to be perpetually perturbed, right that evolution has given us this gift of dissatisfaction. So as opposed to saying, Oh, that's a bummer. I can never be always happy. No, no, the idea is, stop putting so much pressure on yourself to always be happy. Why is that the bar something that's temporary, it's like thinking that SEC should be a constant orgasm. No, it's it by design. It is fleeting, and successful people, high performers, they use this discomfort, right? They, they lean into it, they don't what most people do low performers. Every time they feel bored, lonely, sad, uncertain, fearful, stressed, they escape it, they take a drink, they scroll, a feed, they turn on the TV, they look for escape with distraction, high performers, they take that discomfort, and they use it like rocket fuel, they use it to push them forward. Right. So that discomfort makes them want more makes them want to do better makes them want to create invent a contribute to the world. So I would argue that if we know how to harness those internal triggers, it can actually help us get to our goals, it can help us make the world better.
Pete Cohen 15:47
Yeah, you know, Bob Proctor passed away a few days ago. And he said some amazing things. And one of the things he said about satisfied being satisfied, because I'm never satisfied, because if I'm satisfied, I will then become comfortable. And if I become comfortable, then I just, it's so easy just to give into temptation. And again, there's so much I could ask you about. And you know, that's how hershfield, you've probably come across Sue, who's a researcher, he talks a lot about the science of a future thinking future self. And he said something which I found really fascinating about how we were also designed not to think about retirement, you know, we were just designed to literally survive. So most people's relationship to their future doesn't go very far. You know, we know people we know who we're going to be Tonight, or tomorrow or, or next week or next month. But beyond that for most people. And then there's a clinical psychologist called Meg J, who talks about the empathy gap. She says, you can't have empathy for someone that you don't know. And this is where for me, it starts getting really interesting, because again, I've heard you talk about, and I love this, because there is some great real research that shows thinking about the future and fantasizing about it is a complete waste of time. In fact, it can be even more harmful. I like the idea. And I'd love to hear what you have to think, again, around our ability to see a future beyond where we are that then would inspire us to go, I want to do that. And I want to go through all of these obstacles to actually get there. I'd love to hear what you have to say. But also, I would love to hear about where you see all of this going for you and your vision and your mission of what you're doing. You know right now and how we can actually help you with this. So feel free just to say what?
Nir Eyal 17:30
Yeah, yeah. So so there's a lot there to unpack. I think the the most helpful place to start is to understand the strategy to become in distractible. First of all, let's acknowledge that this is the most important skill of the century, that the world is only going to become a more distracting place. So we have to become indestructible if we want to have the kind of lives that aren't lived with regret. I mean, this is really why I do what I do. I don't want to regret how I spent my days, right. And I don't want others to regret how they spend their days either. And the only way to do that is to be in distractible to become indestructible means that you are as honest with yourself as you are with others. Because today, we all know what to do. There is no shortage of information, right? Does anybody not know that to get in shape? You have to eat right and exercise? Do we really need another book to tell us that we know Does anybody not know that to have good relationships with people, we have to be fully present with them? Does anybody not know that if you want to accrue wealth, you have to make more and spend less we know this? Does anybody need a refresher? If you don't know any of this stuff, Google it. This is the first time in history where all the how tos are accessible at your fingertips on your phone. The problem is that we it's not that we don't know what to do. If we don't do the things we know we should. Yeah, it's that we don't follow through. That's the challenge of our time. And the reason we don't follow through. And by the way, interestingly enough, this is the same question that Plato asked 2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato 25 years ago, he called it a classy and the Greek the tendency to do things against our better interest. So we have always struggled with this. It's not a problem caused by technology. It's something about our species that we take the short road, we take the easy path, and we look towards distraction. And unfortunately, when we do that, we look back and regret and we say, why didn't I read enough? Why didn't I exercise enough? Why didn't I spend enough time with my kids? Why didn't I work on that project? Why didn't I start that business? Why didn't I do that side hustle, and we look back and we didn't live the kind of life we know, we could have lived and that you know, there's a I can't rember who said it, but that somebody once said that, you know, that hell is realizing the kind of life you could have had. Right? And that's, that's the mission I'm on. I want people to live the kind of life they want to live, which by the way, if it's I want to play video games all day, right? If that's your if that's consistent with your values, awesome. You should do that. So we need to stop moralizing and saying oh, the way you spend your time is bad, but the way I spend my time Oh, that's okay. No. Anything you want to do with your time, as long as done with intent with forethought? Is traction, anything As distractions. So these are the four strategies, right? A lot of people get into tactics, oh, turn off your notifications, blah, blah, blah, that's cheap, okay? Anybody can do that. I want to teach you the strategies. The tactics are what you do strategy is why you do it. So the four big strategies that I want everybody to take away who's listening to me today, I want you to remember these four strategies. Number one, the first step is to master the internal triggers that if you don't master your internal triggers, they become your master. And so there's dozens of different techniques I talked about in the book about how you can do this, anybody can use these techniques. So that's the first step, that's the most important step. The second step is to make time for traction. That, you know, oftentimes, I've worked with people over the years, and I used to do this too, who have an empty calendar,
Nir Eyal 20:47
an empty day, and they say, Oh, I'm gonna accomplish all this stuff on my to do list, I've got an empty, I've got a full day ready. And the fact is, those are our least productive days. Because if you don't plan your day, somebody is going to plan it for you. Right? There are too many interests out there, the media, your boss, your kids, your customers who want your time and attention. If you don't plan your day, someone's gonna plan it for you. And you can't call something a distraction. Unless you know what distracted you from, let me say this, again, you can't call something a distraction unless you know what it distracts you from. So you have got to plan your time, if you don't do this, and this is not something that I invented. This has been around for decades. In fact, there are 1000s of peer reviewed studies that show this technique called Making an implementation intention, which is just a fancy way of saying planning out what you're going to do. And when you're going to do it. This is no longer optional. Okay, maybe children, and retirees don't have to do this. But if you want the kind of life you're proud of, if you want to look back and not have regrets, you must plan your day. And I tell you, I teach you exactly how to do this, it's pretty darn easy. You do it according to your values. We could talk about that in a minute. The third step is to hack back those external triggers. So this is where we dive into that 10% of distraction that comes from our outside environment. We hack back our phones, our email, that's the simple stuff. What about the more complicated stuff like meetings? How many of us spend time in boring, distracting meetings that didn't need to be called, especially now that so many of us are working from home? How do we hack back meetings? What about our kids if you're working from home? Well, you know, we love them to death, but our kids can be a huge distraction. What do we do about that? So I show you systematically one by one, how to go through each and every one of these distractions, the last step is to prevent distraction with PACs. And so this is the last line of defense. This is the firewall against distraction, where we make what's called a pre commitment to make sure that if everything else fails, there's a barrier to that distraction. And it's when we use these four strategies in concert, this is how we become in distractible.
Pete Cohen 22:39
I cannot recommend highly enough. People just listening back to what you just heard. And getting the book I'm like, I, I've spent, I'm 52 this year, right. So I've spent 32 years of my life as a coach as working in the field of psychology. And what you've just said, there is what everybody needs to know. And maybe it's not for everyone, you know, but this is why I also wanted to ask you there was a guy who won the Nobel Prize in 1937. It was a Hungarian guy and his theory was basically something called Sintra, P, I knew nothing what this thing was, and then I've delved into it. And his philosophy, his idea was basically saying everything lives for one reason, only one reason, it lives to grow and express and expand everything, whether it does, or whether it doesn't, who knows. But when it comes to I mean, first of all, do you think that I mean, is that do you think that's why the point of life the like life, for it to express to grow to advance?
Nir Eyal 23:43
Right, so I think this is I'm not sure if he won the Nobel Prize, but it sounds like what Schroeder said around that the goal of life is to fight entropy, that, that the that that is the that's, that's what defines life is the the the the resistance against chaos.
Pete Cohen 23:58
It's fascinating, isn't it? Because they're obviously thinking of someone like Viktor Frankl who's in a prisoner prisoner of war and in Auschwitz and finding meaning in the experience and finding the ability to overcome the challenge of where he actually is. And as you said, we live in a world right now that is, there's too much information. And I think the guy who won the Nobel Prize in 1971 I think he said the biggest problem in the world is basically there's too much information. Maslow said in 1966 You know, our television was a destructive influence on children. It's like all of this is there and I think now is the time probably more than ever we we need to become aware of what is our what's the word I'm looking for our has been sold to the highest our attention is being sold to the highest bidder. I mean, we know this so I heard you talk about the the Facebook blower and but in your mission right now, so tell me I'd love you to tell me where do you see this all panning out for you tell me about like in five years time How do you see this old evolving view? You know, people reading more of your books, people getting engaged more with the work that you're doing. And I know this is only one aspect of what you do but where do you want to see this all go and how and how can we all help you? Apart from you know, buying your books? What can we do?
Nir Eyal 25:18
Well, it's okay. So I'll tell you the story behind the title. So the reason the book is called in distractible, it's a made up word I made it up right? It's a new word. So in distractible is meant to sound like indestructible. It's meant to sound like a superpower. It's meant to sound like an identity because I came across this fascinating research around the psychology of religion that showed that when someone has a moniker when you have an identity, when there's some kind of a noun, you can call yourself, you become much more likely to conform to the values of that identity. So when someone calls themselves a devout Muslim, or a member of a particular political party, a Democrat or whatever, or, or even if somebody says that they're a vegetarian, that is an identity. Yeah, right. And so just like a vegetarian doesn't wake up in the morning and say, Hmm, should I have a bacon sandwich for breakfast? No, it's who they are. Right? They don't do that. They don't eat meat, it is part of their identity. So everyone listening to me don't have to read the book. You can become in distractible you can proclaim yourself to be the kind of person who does what they say they're going to do.
Pete Cohen 26:26
Surely, surely, surely. Sorry to interrupt you. Surely that has to be one of our greatest ever achievements. I mean, maybe it's just me that thinks that but I like to think that the majority of people in the world would like to be able to say I'm indestructible you can't distract me I know what I'm doing. This is what I'm gonna get out of my way. Do you don't think that that's what most people deep down perhaps one.
Nir Eyal 26:51
And that's what I want to enable. And he asked me what's my mission? What's my goal here? My My goal is to is to liberate people from being distractible and let me define what that term means. So it doesn't mean being in distractible doesn't mean you never get distracted. I made up the word so I can define it. So being in distractible doesn't mean that you never get distracted. It means you know why you got distracted, and you do something to prevent it happening again. So Pullela Coelho had a wonderful quote, he said, a mistake repeated more than once as a decision. Mistake repeated more than once as a decision. So distractible people keep getting distracted by the same things. How many times can we complain about Instagram? How many times can we complain about our kids distracting us? How many times can we complain about the phone, the email, the drinks or whatever? Before we say enough, right? You're deciding to be distractible unless you become indestructible and in distractible person says, Okay, I see what happened to me there, right, I understand why I got distracted. And now I know what to do about it. Because every distraction only has three causes an internal trigger, an external trigger or planning problem. That's it. And once you break down the problem, you can take steps today to prevent getting distracted tomorrow. So my goal is to liberate people from this victim mentality that this is being done to them. Who doesn't know that the way the media makes money is selling your attention? Does anybody not know that the BBC and the New York Times and The Guardian and and Facebook and everybody in the media business makes money by selling your attention? That's not unethical. There's nothing wrong about that. Right? Unless you let them do it to you. So if you want to watch television or read the news, great, there's nothing wrong with that. But don't let them suck you in in a way that leads towards distraction, do it as traction, you can turn distraction into traction by becoming in distractible.
Pete Cohen 28:45
And that's one other thing that I love about you the fact that you're helping companies develop the tech, you know, the technology around being hooked, but not being addicted. In fact, Louis, could you pass me a copy of inspro, because I just want to show and you might want to stop the camera on the phone for a second, just in case the battery runs out. Because you came up with a word. And I came up with a word as well. I think it's down there, the bottom down there, I came up with a word called inspirator. So this was the second to last book I wrote is called inspirator. So I don't actually know whether that's a word, but it's about you know, people who decide to breathe life into you know, the future that they see in front of them. But just in terms of so how we can how we can help you with that is the best way for people that are listening to this is it for them to it, I know that you've got a free course is it for them to buy your books. What is the best way for people to kind of get into your thought leadership and I'm not an officer, I'm sorry, your blogs as well
Nir Eyal 29:46
as visit the blog, my blog at near and far right calm but the most important thing you can do is to start thinking of yourself as in distractible and tell others that you're in distractible because here's the thing when you tell us right there's a reason that every religion has prostate not every religion that most the all the major religions have an element of a proselytizing. Why is that? Why does every religion have missionaries, every major religion have missionaries because it's not just about converting new people to the flock. It's moreso about reinforcing the faith of the person doing the proselytizing. So by calling yourself in distractible, it's okay, you don't need to read the book. If you're listening to the sound of
Pete Cohen 30:28
my voice, read the book.
Nir Eyal 30:30
You don't even need to do that by calling yourself in distractible, you are not only holding yourself accountable, you're not only more likely to be indestructible, yourself, you're sharing what I think is absolutely necessary, a what we call a social antibody, right that we have what we call social antibodies, when when we see in society, there is a an unsafe, an anti social behavior, something that harms people, we adapt and we adopt, okay, we adapt our behaviors, we adopt these social antibodies so that we can spread better ways of doing things, better manners, better norms of doing things so that we reduce this social harm. And we adopt new technologies that fix the last generation of technology. And the good news is we've been here before. So I remember in the 1980s. So I was born in the 70s. But I remember the 80s. And I remember in the mid 80s, we had ashtrays in my house. Now my parents didn't smoke. But I'm telling you, your younger audience members won't believe this. But there was a time where you're back in the 1980s. People would walk into each other's homes and expect to smoke a cigarette there. If you didn't have ashtrays, people collected ashtrays. They displayed them. Everybody had ashtrays. Can you imagine what would happen if someone walked into your house today and lit up a cigarette? That'd be crazy. Yeah, right. You kick them out. That would never happen today. Well, what changed? Was there a law that says you can't smoke in someone's private residence? No, there's never been such a lot. What changed is that we adopted these social antibodies, we adopted a new identity. I remember when my mother threw away the ashtrays, and someone came over and expected to smoke. And my mother told her Oh, I'm so sorry. We are non smokers. You see that identity, right? That's who we are. We are non smoking. If you'd like to smoke, you can kindly go outside. And at first this woman was shocked. You're gonna ask me to go outside to smoke. Of course today. This is common, right? It's rude to even do you could smoke in someone's house today, right? Well, we don't even ask if you can smoke outside. It's also true, right? So this is what we need to do with industry. So if you're asking me how can we help? join this cause? Tell people you're in distractible? You know what? I'm sorry. I don't respond to every text message in 30 minutes in 30 seconds. I'm in distractible. Yeah, I make a schedule for myself and I stick to it because I'm in distractible, right. Is this any more unusual? Is this any more uncomfortable than telling someone to go smoke outside, or someone who has a unique diet like a vegetarian or someone who wears a religious guard like a job if they're Muslim, right? There's nothing particularly outrageous about this. We just need people to have the courage to say I am in distractible, which doesn't necessarily mean you don't like technology. I love technology. Yeah, I use Instagram and Facebook and email. I love technology. But I use it on my schedule and according to my value times, exactly. Because
Pete Cohen 33:18
I love what you say about you know, getting kind of getting in the game. And it's not about finishing something, it's just about love. This is my window. This is like what it is 20 minutes, half an hour, just do what you say you're going to do. Because we know that the brain remembers everything that we say. And if you get into the game, like you said about you're lying to yourself, let's stop lying. And let's face the truth of who we are what we can actually do with what we have
Nir Eyal 33:40
and hold on to a lot. You know, I one of the things that kills me these days is when I go to a restaurant, oh, every restaurant I go to I see this. I'll see a family of people, you know, parents and children. And the parents will stuff iPads in front of their kids faces or phones in front of kids faces just to shut them up. is a big mistake people. Right? We got to stop doing that. We have to understand that iPads are not i nannies. Okay, that's not what they were designed to do. And so we have to make sure that we teach our kids how to also manage their discomfort. Is it okay that it's a little bored before the food gets here? Yeah, that's life. Yeah, right. We have a conversation. Let's draw together. Let's let's do some of those tell jokes. Let's do something to pass the time. It doesn't require us to space out into an app. So we have to be very conscious, not only for ourselves, and again, I'm not anti tech. I'm anti Yeah, misuse of tech, but that's on us. Yeah, the tech companies fault.
Pete Cohen 34:37
You know, I've got a challenge for everyone who's listening to this to do some sort of oppose, do a story tag near in it and just basically saying I'm in Disrupt. Yes. So let's see how many people do something on the back of this. Let's let's create more of a movement because there I think also in life, there's so many people you can follow. I think the greatest person to follow personally is the person that you choose to actually be. You know, I love what you said about identity, you gave me another perspective of that which I, which I didn't know. For me the word identity means you know who you think you are. You've probably heard Dr. Dr. Joe, not Dr. Joe Dispenza. He talks about, you know, the possibilities that access, but they get the guy who I know you talk a lot about willpower, about the fact that the misconceptions about that, yeah, but the reality of trying to create a new personal reality, but the same personality if you decide to become in distractible, it's sort of I would say, as a lot being perfect, but that's a decision that you're making. And I want to share with you the impact that you have Amin, you know, and I love what you said about labels. So I was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention and attention deficit disorder, I don't really talk about I don't use that anymore as like an excuse. I know, I've got very active minds, and my mind will go all over the place. But I've had to work really hard to take my attention and focus it. But when from reading your book, it just made me really think about that traction. So every time I'm being distracted, what am I stopping myself from doing what I really, really want to do? Right? Right. So that in 2020, in my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, she wasn't given that never smoked. I thought, You know what, I got to do something. So I created a program, which is free, where it's all about developing a relationship to your future self. And we had 8000 people sign up to this program, but we only had 2.8% of people completed absolutely free. And the people that completed it was like game changing. So again, I was thinking Hang on a second, what do we have to do to help all these people and at that time, I was reading your book. And I thought, how can we gamify this experience, and what we've done, and are happy to share this with you, we created an app where we help you identify a little bit of the person you want to be. And then it's about starting something and stopping something, just one, one. And every time you do the start and the stop, you get a coin. Right? So you're building what some people might call identity capital you're seeing, and this has only been out a few weeks, but the people that are using it, you know, it's becoming something where, even myself, there's been a few times, I wouldn't have done the thing. But now I'm kind of recording. And I know you talk about, you know, the tracking as well. But I'm not, I'm not, I'm definitely going to show that to you. I'd love for you to look at it. But tell us a little bit about the work that you're doing now. Because when I started to pay attention to that, I just thought, Okay, this is really interesting. So tell us about the work that you're doing now in terms of technology and getting people hooked.
Nir Eyal 37:54
Yeah, so we can use this technology. You know, I wrote the book on how these companies get you hooked. And the idea was that we can steal their secrets, right? That it shouldn't just be Facebook and Instagram and the video game companies that get us hooked, we can steal these techniques to make you know, apps like yours that improve people's lives, something that they do engage with, but they they can't benefit from it unless they use it. So I've worked with 1000s of companies in from healthcare to educational products, right apps that teach you a new language or help kids with their, with their studies, financial services, products that get people into the habit of saving money by getting them hooked to an app that facilitates that. So there's all kinds of ways I mean, that's really the focus of my work. I've never worked for social media companies I the book wasn't written for them. They know this stuff. Well, before I published it, my goal was to get these secrets out so that the rest of us can use them for good. So that's what hooked is all about how to build habit forming products, to build healthy habits in people's minds. And of course, we have to do that ethically. And then in distractible is about how do we break the bad habits, right. So it's for different products hooked is for building health tech, Ed Tech FinTech products that improve lives, through healthy habits and in distractible is about how do we break those bad habits.
Pete Cohen 39:09
So let me ask you one more question. And guys, honestly, please follow near go and check out what he's got on the table for you that you can learn to become in distractible. What a great thing to strive towards that you decide where your attention goes to. But let me ask you just in terms of personal development, obviously, it's a big market. Why do you think so many people struggle to you know, if they buy the book to finish the book, you know, they do a course Why do you think to lose weight? Why do you think that? Why do you think that happens?
Nir Eyal 39:42
I'll tell you why. Because most people prioritize intensity over consistency. And one of my life mantras is the opposite consistency over intensity. Then buying the book or you know, listening to the course or you know, start Something is super easy, right? You know, we're in February here. So last month, everybody made New Year's resolutions. And of course, we know the gym membership spikes. Everybody goes to work out for like a few weeks. And they're really intense. We see these, you know, weekend warriors that come in and they sweat, they leave puddles of sweat behind them. They work really hard, two or three times. But of course, you know, to get healthy, we can't work out once or twice, we have to do so consistently, year after year. You know, diets don't work because they're temporary, right? It's, oh, I want to fit into that dress, or I want to get into that suit. And then what? Go back to your old ways, your old habits, you're gonna, you know, bounce right back to build a great relationship, right? You don't build a great relationships over saying, honey, I'm going to take you to an expensive dinner, that's stupid, that doesn't work. Great relationships are built over time consistency, putting in the time being totally present a business right when you when you start a business, you don't do it in a weekend, you work on it consistently, you show up, you do the hard work that other people are not willing to do. So it's really all about consistency over intensity. But that but that consistency is is is not easy. And you know, this is probably, if there's one piece of pushback I get from the book, is that people say it's hard. Right? I didn't do it because it's it's difficult. And it's true. There are steps now you don't have to do everything all at once. Right? Sometimes it becomes overwhelming. So there's I think it's a little bit of a misunderstanding that you have to, you know, do every single thing in the book. No, no. Like one of the first steps is to just plan one day, part of the reason we you hinted at this a little bit earlier, part of the reason that we find that that that vision boards and 10 year plans don't work is that there are a lot of effort, right? I don't know what I want to do in 10 years, I don't know my life mission. I don't know my values. It's hard, right? So as opposed to doing something that's so far out in the future, we start with tomorrow, right? Just start with tomorrow, by looking at our values, what are values, values, or attributes of the person you want to become values or attributes and person you want to become? So we ask ourselves, how would the person I want to become spend their time tomorrow. And I divide this into three life domains, you you are at the center of these three life domains. If you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others, you can't make the world better. So you ask yourself, how would the person I want to become spend time taking care of themselves? Right? We all know how important sleep is. We tell our children you have to have a bedtime because it's important for your brain development. But do we have a bedtime? No, we're hypocrites, right? You got to put that time on your schedule, just like you would tell your kids have a bedtime. Gotta have a bedtime. If reading is one of your values. If growth is important to you, do you have that on your schedule? If exercise if proper nutrition, if video games are important to you, that's part of your values. Great got to be on your schedule, then relationships part of the reason we have such a problem with loneliness in the in the industrialized world is that people don't plan time for relationships. It used to be people had the church group, they had the Kiwanis Club, they had the bowling league, those institutions are dying, we don't have those regular cases on our calendar, kind of bring that time back. And then finally your work domain, right. So there's two kinds of work we have reactive work and we have reflective work, reactive work is reacting to stuff. This is how low performers spend the time they they spend it reacting to emails, reacting to notifications, reacting to messages, reacting reacting all day long, high performers make time for reflective work, right? They sit down, to plan to strategize to think, win. And that kind of work can only be done without distractions. So that's that's what we do we plan our next step by planning our day tomorrow by making these trade offs. And this is why timeboxing is so much better than to do lists. Because when you have high box, you have to make trade offs that part of the problem with to do lists. This is why I hate to do list is that there's no constraint, you can always add more, more more, more, more more. Whereas a to do a time box calendar on the other yes forces you to make trade offs forces you to understand that, you know, you only have 24 hours in a day. And so that's one of the many reasons that to do lists suck as a productivity tool. And time boxing is so much better.
Pete Cohen 44:05
I think you've really covered so much of what is in the book. But honestly, I would really encourage people to read it. Thank you. And just to reflect on you don't have to thank me. I'm thanking you because honestly, I have followed a lot of people in my life and you have really inspired me I'd even if I tried to explain it. I don't think it would do it justice in terms of the impact that you had on me. And then the impact that's had on everybody else has been massive. And I just can't thank you enough and I love what you said there's two things I love what you said there right at the end there about values when we look at ancient wisdom and we look at the work of you know Seligman about those virtues around you know, it takes courage I can said and it is hard sometimes to get started and and justice you know, standing up for your rights, the rights of others wisdom of what we have learned Also that whole thing, the biggest one, which is why I love your work, which is about that temperance thing, that's self control. That's it. That's where the magic is, even in the Lord's Prayer lead us not into temptation, you know, or Adam and Eve, don't eat fruit from the forbidden tree. There's this distraction everywhere. But the greatest thing is the traction and children have that naturally, you know, they do have that the traction, there's something that they want to do. And you just didn't you inspire me to continue to do what I'm doing. And I'm really grateful to you and we'll put the show in the show notes. We'll put the links to the books I actually bought, bought, hooked yesterday, because I've listened to it. But I bought the book on Amazon, because I want to actually have a physical copy of it. But Nick, thank you so much. So before going to your website, right is a good place to start. I see you've got a free course on there as well. Yeah,
Nir Eyal 45:54
yeah, absolutely. So if you go to in distractible.com, that's the book website and that's spelled i n, the word distract a BLE. So in distractible, there's actually a free 80 page workbook that we couldn't fit to the final edition of the book. So it's yours for free. It doesn't matter if you buy the book or not. So you can pick that up at indestructible calm and to follow me in my writing in my next project, then then go to near and far calm and near again, a spell like my first name and I are near and far calm.
Pete Cohen 46:23
Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. And I know you're going to have a family dinner now. And I'm sure you'd be very present and not giving into distraction. So thank you so much. Now we really appreciate you wish you a happy, healthy, happy, beautiful day. Thank you so much. My
Nir Eyal 46:40
pleasure. Thanks for having me. Great talking to you.
Pete Cohen 46:42
Thanks for listening to the podcast. Make sure you check out the Mi365 Stop One Start One challenge. This is your unique opportunity to get coached by me to get your mind right. My intentions now delivered as you start to stop doing the things that are holding you back and you start doing the things that will guarantee your success. So you achieve your goals, your dreams and your ambitions. Head over to Start One Stop One dot me. That's a Start One Stop One dot me. Let's do this