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Do Hard Things, Change Tough Habits

Our daily habits are the most important factor in determining whether or not we hit all of our life’s goals and outcomes. And as such, they are incredibly hard to change. Every habit that we have can fall into one of three categories: additive, neutral, or subtractive. Ideally, we want to maximize our additive habits and minimize our subtractive habits, but that’s easier said than done.

In this episode, Russ explains how you need to radically change your destination in order to successfully demolish your toughest subtractive habits. Watch the episode below:

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Each week we release an Action Guide filled with relevant exercises from the latest Russ Perry Show episode to help you expand your sobriety across all core areas of your life: body, being, balance, and business.

This week’s Action Guide will have you audit your current habits and focus your attention on changing one of your subtractive habits in the next 90 days.

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BONUS: No need to take notes – we transcribed the episode for you!

– Oh, hello there. Welcome to the Russ Perry Show. I was just reading my number one best-selling book in gambling in the Amazon Kindle bookstore, The Sober Entrepreneur. Well, more on that later.

Welcome to the Russ Perry Show. I’m glad you’re here. In case you’re just joining us for the first time, this is a show where every single week, I talk about a topic, train on something, all about this conversation on why sober equals success. So today, we’re gonna be talking about habits.

I know, it’s something that you might be thinking to yourself, “Man, I got some bad habits.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I need to get some better habits.” Well, you’re in luck, cause what I’m gonna unravel today is a key, key strategy I use every year, actually, to be more specific, multiple times a year to totally change the trajectory of my habits in order to get more that I want or to get the things that I want.

So sit back, relax, and welcome to this episode of the Russ Perry Show.

[Intro] There’s a new way of living to give you the unfair advantage in all areas of life, body, being, balance, and business. Follow my journey each week and learn firsthand why sober equals success. Welcome to the Russ Perry Show.

Alright, so this episode is titled Do Hard Things, Change Tough Habits, but the question begs is like, what exactly is a habit? Because we hear people talk about it all the time. If you’re at all into any kind of personal development stuff, people will, you know, what’s your morning habits? What’re your routines? What are the things you do? What are the best habits you have?

And then we have the other side of the conversations where it’s like, “Oh, I have such a bad habit “of da-da-da-da-da, fill in the blank.” But when we need to get clear is conceptually, theoretically, visually, how do we understand what a habit is? Because if we don’t understand what a habit is, it’s gonna be impossible to change them.

And I can assure you, if you’re struggling with any form of addiction right now, whether it’s a substance, whether it’s just addicted to your phone, addicted to food, addicted to someone else, the only way for you to break free from those addictions is to change your habits. So we’ll get there. That’s kind of like part two, a little preview teaser for you, but first, let’s start at what a habit actually is.

So bring it down to my tablet here. The way I think about a habit is it’s like a pre-wired part of you. It’s like a pre-programmed part of you that is made up of actions. And when I mean pre-programmed, I mean that these are basically things you don’t really have to think a lot about to do. It’s like the operating system or like a computer program if you will. If you hit start or play or go on a computer program, it’ll run through the program itself.

My daughters, they got this little mouse programming game, and it’s kind of interesting, actually, I’ll draw it out. You basically have this grid of plastic tiles, now this is like you’re looking down on it. And then, you have this little mouse and on this mouse are these buttons and these buttons, basically, are movements, like move forward, turn right, turn left, move back. And the goal is to create a pseudo-maze, I’ll go in a different color here, with these other cards that you can stick in the slits and then once the maze is created, there’s a literal piece, like a funny little piece of cheese that this mouse is trying to get to.

So on the mouse, it’s basically to teach them programming at a basic level, so I hit this button on the mouse and then I punch in the movement the mouse needs to make and if I get it right, the mouse will follow the pattern that I set. So it’s like move forward, turn right, turn left, oh, sorry, I would’ve already messed up. So it’s move forward, turn right, move forward, turn left, move forward, move forward, turn right, move forward, and you get the cheese. So if you do it right, the mouse navigates the maze and you get to it.

So one could argue that habits are very similar to programming. They’re ways in which we program ourselves, how we approach the day, how we approach interactions with other people, how we approach our body and our mind, where we don’t have to think about it, just the program runs.

So our actions, when they are running automatically, allow us to actually do things easier. We don’t need to think about stuff. We don’t have to exert so much energy when we’re trying to do something because when our habits are in place, these actions just happen automatically.

And I like to think of them as like an escalator. An escalator gets people up, you know, a hill or something or a mall entrance or whatever, and it’s automatic. You get onto the escalator and you move up and you’re at the top. And at the top of your escalator is your destination, it’s where you want to be, or as I will refer to in this analogy, results.

So in the literal analogy, now let me move this mousetrap here, this mouse. Where do I put this, Colton?

– [Colton] Bottom right.

– Bottom right. Okay.

So, if we think of the literal escalator and the steps in the escalator machines are habits, the escalator has a habit of getting people from one floor to the next floor. You just step on and it takes you right up to that destination.

So this model or this example is a great way for us to understand habits. We have a set of actions, AKA the escalator, that’s just running behind the scenes automatically. When we step into it, when the habit is triggered, AKA stepping onto this escalator, it takes us somewhere, which are our results.

Still with me? Good. I don’t know if you are or not. Maybe I should actually get my computer here like we did the other live streams so I can see anyone commenting. Actually, Colton, let’s make sure we do that for the next Russ Perry Show so we have the computer here. By the way, Colton, who I keep referring to, is our producer here for the show.

So the results are the end path of the sequence of actions, the sequence of thoughts, whatever that make up our habits.

Now, H A B I, habits. Still working on writing and talking. The catch 22 is, the results can be good and positive and add to our life, or the results can do the exact opposite. They can take away from where we’re at.

So this begs, this opens up the conversation of habits being good or bad, or in The Sober Entrepreneur, I talk about this extensively, habits being additive or subtractive.

So an additive habit is something where when you go through this sequence, when you ride the escalator and you get to your destination, those results add to your life. They help you, they increase life value, they expand who you are. This could be exercise, this could be meditation, this could be brushing your teeth, for example.

Then, the subtractive habits are things that you do where when you ride the escalator, it’s actually an escalator down. And by the time you get to where you’re going, these results have taken away something from you, taken away your time, your money, your energy, your happiness, your freedom, depending on where it’s at.

Both of these escalators are made up of actions and it’s the habits, is the habit down or the habit up? So in life, we are always evaluating, gotta move this mousetrap again. I’m not gonna delete it, though. Mouse maze, I mean, not a mouse trap.

So when we’re thinking about our inventory of habits, we really have this make-up of things that are positive for sure, and then some things we may not be so sure about. Not a negative, but kind of like a ha-hmmm.

And then we get down to the subtractive habits and they’re definitely things that are for sure not great for us. For me, drinking was on here. Now, right now, I’ll add social media here, but in recent months, social media has really become a subtractive habit, totally not serving me for what I need in my life right now.

So they can move, they can adjust, and the question that you have to ask yourself simply is this. Are the results that I’m getting adding to my life and getting me where I want to go, or are they taking away?

If they’re adding to your life, if they’re getting to that destination, super, then get after it and keep going. That’s a positive, additive habit.

If the results that you’re gaining are not, they’re taking away from you, you’re waking up realizing that you’re getting further and further away from what you want or what you desire, then that is a subtractive habit and you gotta fix that, you gotta change that.

So now we’re in part two of the conversation and the title of this whole segment today is how do we change the habits? Because changing habits are super hard. Have you ever tried to change the path of an escalator, the destination? I mean, honestly, without a major, major construction project, you can’t. Escalators, they’re built into the ground, you know, even a moving walkway, which kind of is a similar analogy, like it takes you somewhere, you can’t change the destination without a major operation, and the same goes for us.

So if I want to change the destination of my habits, I have to look at first, the results that I’m getting. I’m gonna redraw this here.

So let’s assume that I’m doing something, a habit that’s getting me kind of where I want to go. We’re just gonna use physically. Physically, I am working out every day and this result, destination isn’t bad. I have my whole sequence of habits, I wake up at this time, I get on these shoes, I go to the gym, I do this workout on my phone, it’s really cool, I feel like a fit guy. Yet I’m not changing my body composition, I don’t feel like I’m losing weight if that’s something or I’m not getting stronger.

Just wanting to get those results are not necessarily going to be enough. I have to get radically clear about a different destination that I want or different results that I want to have.

Now, this kind of proves to become a challenge because if our results aren’t bad, they’re not really hurting us, I think it’s super easy to talk about over here on the left, when things are tough and things are bad, you’re like, “Look, I don’t wanna be in the dumps, I wanna be up here.”

I talked to one of my friends before this, he’s been having problems with drinking, his life is not working when he drinks so it’s super easy to be like, “Dude, don’t drink. “It’s not working out for you. Let’s change those habits. “Let’s get to a different destination.” However, the problem is is that it’s not easy to change our habits at all in general and it’s even harder to change them when the end destination isn’t that bad.

So how do we change it? How do we get out there and basically demolish the set of habits that have been getting us toward the destination, which we may not say is bad, it’s just not where we wanna go? We don’t wanna go here. We wanna go here.

The answer and the clickbait-y solution for you is we have to challenge ourselves, and not just challenge ourselves in a small way. We have to get out there and drastically challenge ourselves in the area of the habit that we want to change.

Let’s go back to body. There’s a big conversation around the office this week because it’s a new quarter, we’re talking about things we want to do, and we talk about things we want to do with our body. It’s part of the Warrior training. And there’s a lot of people who are like, “I’m gonna do some push-ups. I’m gonna do some pull-ups.” And I say that’s great.

Like, that is a good habit to create. The problem is the results that you’re going after, that probably is more like the walkway. You’re gonna do push-ups, you’re gonna create the habit of push-ups, and the result you’ll get is that you can do more push-ups.

There really isn’t a challenge in that. There may be some time management, you know, just kind of the effort. Versus something way up here that’s super hard which requires a total demolition of the moving walkway and actually building a new escalator with new habits and a new challenge that can get you where you want to go that is far, far, far above the current end destination of the current habits.

So physicality, this is always an easy one to have a conversation around because it’s saying, look, your body’s one way, you feel one way, why don’t you commit to something that seems impossible at this moment, like a marathon or a tough mudder or a vegan diet or something that’s so out of the realm of possibility that you basically are taking the jackhammer and the demolition crane to your current habits because the only way for you to get there is to radically change the current path that you’re on. You have to leave that path and create a new one.

That is how we create massive change in our lives and that is how we create massive new habits and destroy massive old habits. It’s with big ass outcomes and challenges that we’re working towards.

Let’s go to relationships. If I want a radical transformation in my marriage with my wife, I have to evaluate and look at the habits that I currently have and the patterns that I currently have and smash those, because I am looking to get something else out of that relationship. Now, I’m not talking about physically, although if you’re not having sex, if you’re not being physical with your wife at all right now, that could be your hard thing that you want to accomplish.

Perhaps it is as simple as going on a date night every single week. For you, you’re like, “Russ, I’m sorry. “You know, I can do a marathon, I can climb Mount Everest, “I can go vegan, I will only eat fruit “that falls off of trees, but you’re asking me “to find time to go on a date night every week “with my wife or my girlfriend or my husband?” “Now you’re asking too much.”

Whatever the hard thing is in your life that you think is tough or challenging or you’re not sure you’re capable of, that’s what you must go after because that is the only way you’re gonna smash this escalator and create a new one.

Maybe it’s not even an escalator. Maybe it’s one of those bullet tube things you find at the bank or Elon Musk is trying to create, a hyperloop, that’s what it is. Maybe it’s a hyperloop to your destination.

The point being is that whether it’s a hyperloop or an escalator or an elevator, it’s a new set of habits that must be created and for that new set to be in place, whatever else that is in place has to be destroyed.

So this is a long conversation, I talk a ton, I’m definitely promoting the book this week because you know what? It’s all in here, Sober Entrepreneur. You can go to and get a copy of my book, get the book for free, just pay for shipping and handling, whether you’re here in the states or internationally, we’ll ship it anywhere, and you can learn all about the habits that I had, how I shattered them and destroyed them and then built new ones on top of a framework known as the Warrior’s Way.

So probably went a little long today, but thank you for tuning in. I really wanted to share this with you. Wherever you’re at in your habits, I want you to challenge yourself to do some hard things to change those. We’ll have more in the action guides, which you can get at We’ll see you next week, same time, same place. Take care and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram.

[Outro] Check out past episodes and download custom action guides at

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