In September 2014 the Wall Street Journal magazine asked six well-known people to weigh in on a single topic—Habit. Below are their answers. I love habits (well most of them), because they can make your life easier, more productive, and take you in the direction you want to head.
I loved a few of the below comments including:
–We’re all looking for greatness. And in order to be great, you have to be consistent. -Thomas Keller, Chef
–It’s important to turn disciplined behavior into a habit. -Maria Sharapova, tennis player
–One of the reasons I started traveling at an early age—on my own, and for work-is that travel has always been a way of stepping out of habit. -Paloma Picasso, designer
Bottom line: Make sure your habits are good ones.
Rule #13 from my book The Fantastic Life: The 2% Rule
Create your habits to get you a win. One win can lead to another, and habits are a great way to position yourself to move in the direction you want.
WSJ. Magazine September 2014 Men’s Style: The Columnists
WSJ. asks six luminaries to weigh in on a single topic. This month: Habit
“In my day-to-day life I am a person of habit. I come to the studio every day around 8:30 a.m. and I leave around 5:30 p.m. I have a strict diet—every day I have the same amount of pistachios and the same amount of Cheerios and I’ll eat two Zone bars throughout the day. I try to be right on the edge of getting the exact best proportion of fats, carbs and protein. I enjoy the discipline, and it lets me not really have to think about my diet, so I can think about other things. I train five days a week at lunchtime between noon and 1 p.m. I have a gym at my studio and I go there for one hour, and it lets me forget about everything else. When it comes to my work, I would say that my process, the way I go about starting to think about a work, is the same—I just follow and focus on my interests.”
—Koons is an artist.
“I resist habit. One of the reasons I started traveling at an early age—on my own, and for work—is that travel has always been a way of stepping out of habit. If you’re in a different place, you do things differently. When designing a collection, I often use high tables; but I’ve also worked while lying on the floor or sitting on a plane. I’m not a person who needs to design out of a special studio or with special tools. My father [Pablo] never had a special hour for working; there was nothing he did particularly geared towards habit. I created a perfume as a self-portrait that I wear almost every day. But the problem is that the smell becomes so much a part of you that you can’t smell it any longer. So I have one or two other scents that I put on every now and then. When I break the habit, I can smell my fragrance again, which is really a part of me.”
—Picasso is a designer famous for her jewelry collection for Tiffany & Co. and her namesake perfume.
“I’m a naturally habitual person. I find that I’m comfortable in situations or environments where repetition is the norm, and I try to establish that wherever I go. In kitchens, we’re all looking for greatness. And in order to be great, you have to be consistent. Do you want to be a Peyton Manning, a Derek Jeter? What makes these guys who have been in the game 20 years great is that they’re great every day they go out and play. Does habit interfere with inspiration? Not at all. If I’m cleaning a salmon, in the first two years of doing that I’m really paying attention. But after a while, I don’t have to concentrate so much. It becomes habitual, which allows me to start thinking about what I’ll do with the salmon once I’ve cleaned it—look at the fat content of the belly or what to do with a fillet. That’s when you can start to be inspired by the salmon. You become liberated by repetition.”
—Keller is the only American chef to have earned three Michelin stars at two restaurants, Per Se and the French Laundry.
“I’m currently playing Billie Holiday on Broadway, and she’s someone who had terrible habits. One thing I do before I go onstage is I have a bottle of gin in my dressing room and I take a little bit of it and put it behind my ears, on top of my mouth between my lips and nose and on my wrists and neck so I have the smell of gin around me. It reminds me that she’s slightly inebriated when she starts the show. As actors, we do these little magic tricks to get out of our own way. During a long run of a show, it’s very easy to get ingrained in doing things certain ways. It can lose spontaneity. I always say, if you usually look left at a certain point, look right. It changes perspective and all of a sudden there’s freshness. Billie Holiday never sang a song the same way twice, and that’s what made her a true jazz artist.”
—McDonald is an actress and singer who has won six Tony Awards, more than any other performer.
“At the end of the day, my most consistent habit is that I’m a contradiction. There are parts of me that fully fall in the comforts, the rhythms of life. Iced tea is a constant in my hand—doesn’t matter what time of day or year. When I travel to places I go to often, I always go to the same place: I think I’ve stayed in the same room at Claridge’s in London for 20 years. I can only draw with a Sharpie and I like to sketch on lined paper; I’ve been sketching like that since I was a teenager. But, at the other extreme, I have the attention span of a gnat and I want something new and I’m curious about what’s next. It’s always a swing between the two. I’ve been going to Peter Luger’s steakhouse since I was four, and the steak sauce there is like Proust’s madeleine. But if there’s a new restaurant and they’re not open yet and there’s no phone number, I’ve got to go there in the first three days. It’s one extreme or the other.”
—Kors is a fashion designer.
“It’s important to turn disciplined behavior into a habit: early to bed, not too many splurges in my day-to-day routine. However, as a professional athlete it’s really important not to fall prey to habit. Success on the court means being able to adapt to changing conditions, to different players, playing styles and more. One of the things I love most about tennis is that it’s an ever-changing game. No two matches are alike, and the responsiveness to change is what sets great players apart. For me, a huge part of recuperating from my shoulder injuries was about being in touch with my body and every action’s reaction. The ability to tune in and edit my response was the way I was able to unlearn the bad habits I’d fallen into from my injury. Being able not only to adapt but to anticipate the need to adapt is more important to me than habit.”
—Sharapova is the sixth-ranked female tennis player in the world.