I also learned that I was often failing because I didn’t believe in myself — I would give up when things got hard, because deep down I didn’t really think I was going to succeed. I didn’t believe, because past evidence from repeated failures told me I most likely wasn’t going to succeed. I had proven to myself over and over again that I sucked at habits, and this belief got in the way of future habit successes.
What’s the way out of this negative feedback loop? You change the message. You tell yourself you’re going to succeed no matter what, and that your past failures don’t count because this time you’re going to put everything you have into it, and not allow failure. You change a habit that’s so easy to do that you can’t possibly fail … and then you let that habit success redefine your belief in yourself.
Excellent post talking about why we suck at habits. Part of what we do is that we tie our belief in ourselves to our success in a habit, especially if we go through habit failures and then do the "I'm going to get it this time" thing, and the cycle continues. The power behind tying our beliefs (/trust/esteem) in how successful we are in our habits might be good, but only if we succeed in doing that habit.
So how do we do that? The time-tested tactics: start small (so it's achievable), hold yourself accountable and have others hold you accountable (so you achieve it)—whatever it takes. This kind of reminds me of Daryl Bem's Self-Perception Theory, which is looked down upon in the psych community now, but basically, we might look back at our past performance on our habits to see how likely we are to achieve them in the future, though we might have some bullshit where we make excuses and justifications for not doing well, but that actually denies us the impetus to make a lasting change to how we actually do our habits.
All of the 11 points that Babauta talks about in this are great building blocks for habits. If only there was some sort of software that put these ideas together to make the framework easy-to-use, which might reduce the friction to creating a new habit that might lead to disproportionate increases in habit ability. (Of course, the execution is more important than the framework, but we can make some impact with the framework.)
Negative feedback stabilizes a system and it's necessary. (See graph.)
Negative feedback like this sticky-note – don't see them as judgments of character, just individual instances. This relates to what I'm thinking about lately is that most people don't mean to be assholes (and thus we can't judge their character if they do asshole actions) but they may be unaware (and we can judge that part of their character, but that is way more of a shallow judgment (not on our part, just that it's not a deep representation of their character) than that they're an asshole through and through.)
Through that lens, the sticky-note leaver isn’t trying to say anything about the individuals in the system, but merely to nudge the system as a whole in the right direction.