Milton Keynes Personal and Professional Development Book Club

Post-event update

Habits are an important part of life – some would say they make up life itself. It was Aristotle that said:

“we are what we repeatedly do…excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”

Reading Gretchen’s book on mastering our habits definitely reinforced this to me.  Thinking about how the small steps I take every day are what will lead to who I am in the future has been a powerful motivator to clean up some of my unwanted habits.

At the book club, we had an enjoyable discussion about this book over some drinks and dinner at the Harvester, which helped us reinforce some of the ideas in the book and think about how to implement them in our day-to-day lives.

I, for one, love Gretchen Rubin’s organisational skills and would love to learn from them. She even had some questions ready for different types of book clubs, which made my preparation really easy this month!  Members of the book club shared that her podcasts are a good listen too, and I am looking forward to checking them out. You can find her material, including her blog, summaries of the books, and podcasts here

Gretchen’s main premise is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to habit formation, and around the table we found just that. We all had different preferences on how to form habits, different motivations and different pitfalls. Knowing ourselves really well helps us form good habits. Gretchen splits people into four categories of people – questioner, upholder, rebel and obliger, each of whom are motivated by different things. This helped us think about where we fitted in and also how to work with people we know.

It was really helpful to reflect together on good habits we’d fostered, and how they’d come about – and get ideas from each other on how to use the ideas in the book to improve our habits in the future. Some of the things we discussed were:

  • How some people find it easier to completely abstain from something (say, chocolate), whilst others find it works better to allow themselves a moderate amount of chocolate every day. I found that I’m different with different things – there are some things I could eat or do in moderation, there are others where…well, once I’ve popped I can’t stop!
  • How motivation plays a really big part in how quickly a habit is formed. A lot of people around the table had changed their diet almost overnight because they had a strong motivation to do so, whereas other habits took longer to form.
  • We discussed the helpfulness of habit tracking devices and apps such as the Fitbit and Habit Loop to monitor how we’re doing
  • Having an end-date (e.g. ‘I’ll give up chocolate for 30 days’) makes it pretty likely that you’ll eat chocolate on day 31. Rather, ‘counting up’ is more effective – e.g. ‘I’ve been chocolate-free for 15 days’.
  • Multi-tasking is a great way to add new habits into your life – e.g. listening to an audiobook at the gym.
  • Your habits should make you happy – by improving your health, freeing up time and mental energy and reducing the number of decisions you have to make a day. If they don’t, do something else!

Those are little snippets of what we discussed. If you’ve read the book or have some thoughts to share on habit formation, feel free to add your own comments below – whether you were at the book club or not!

It seems that chocolate is on my mind today, so I’ll be off to satisfy that craving….In the meantime, see you at the next book club, and have a great day all!

Contact me if you have any questions or need any help with your habits – or 07545812477


23rd May 2017 7pm-9pm at The Fountain Harvester, London Road, Milton Keynes

To join, click here (link opens in

Available in paperback, kindle and audiobook


Most of us have a habit we’d like to change, and there’s no shortage of expert advice. But as we all know from tough experience, no magic, one-size-fits-all solution for everything from weight loss to personal organisation exists. In Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin answers the most perplexing questions about habits with her signature mix of rigorous research and engaging storytelling (and a  personality quiz):

– Why do we find it tough to create a habit for something we love to do?

– How can we keep our healthy habits when we’re surrounded by temptations?

– How can we help someone else change a habit?

Rubin reveals the true secret to habit change:

first, we must know ourselves

. When we shape our habits to suit ourselves, we can find success- even if we’ve failed before.

Whether you want to eat more healthfully, stop checking devices, or finish a project, the invaluable ideas in Better Than Before will start you working on your own habits – even before you’ve finished the book.

Some reviews:

This takes on every unhelpful habit you’ve ever had at home or at work and shows you how you can fix it. A life-changer. I more or less lost three stone as a result of reading this book. And it changed completely how I process email which has saved me thousands of hours. A revelation. (Viv Groskop The Pool)

Rubin’s book is about liberating yourself from destructive habits…she is realistic, saying that no one-size-fits-all solution exists (Evening Standard)

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