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Modern Wisdom / #705 – Spencer Greenberg – The 5 Most Effective Techniques To Hack Your Habits | Modern Wisdom

#705 – Spencer Greenberg – The 5 Most Effective Techniques To Hack Your Habits | Modern Wisdom

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In this episode of the “Modern Wisdom” podcast, host Chris Williamson sits down with Spencer Greenberg to discuss the most effective techniques for hacking your habits. Greenberg shares his study on habit techniques, the effectiveness of different personality tests, and the importance of wisdom in creating effective habits.

Main Takeaways

The Effectiveness of Personality Tests

  • The study tested a new personality test called the “Young In Test” and found it to be more effective than the popular Myers-Briggs test.
  • Big Five Personality Model is considered the gold standard by academics, while Myers-Briggs is popular among lay people.
  • Researchers tested both models against each other and astrological signs to see how well they predict outcomes in people’s lives.
  • Myers-Briggs had 0% predictive accuracy for all 42 outcomes, while the Young Indian test had a .11 correlation and Big Five had a .22 correlation.
  • The number of factors in the tests did not account for the difference in accuracy.

Effective Techniques for Habit Formation

  • Motivation matters a great deal in forming habits.
  • Triggers play a key role in forming habits.
  • Consistency is key in maintaining habits.
  • Mini habits involve creating a smaller version of the desired habit to establish consistency and motivation.
  • Identity-based habit change is important in maintaining habits and avoiding negative patterns of behavior.

Understanding Values and Wisdom

  • Valueism is a personal life philosophy that helps answer the question of what to do with your life.
  • Values can be categorized into intrinsic and instrumental values.
  • Wisdom is about aligning intention, action, and outcome.
  • Wisdom as a virtue involves demonstrating certain virtues such as courage, honesty, and kindness.
  • Wisdom as a process involves exploring essential truths about life and applying insights to theoretical and real-life situations.

Trusting Intuition and Rational Analysis

  • Trusting intuition can be helpful, but it’s important to know when to override it.
  • The FIRE framework acronym stands for Fast decisions, Intuition in familiar domains, Reasoning in complex domains, and External validation.
  • Intuition is like a neural net, doing complex operations that are sometimes hidden.
  • It’s important to find a balance between rational analysis and intuition, and not completely ignore or solely rely on either.

Defining and Pursuing Wisdom

  • Wisdom is a fascinating topic to explore with no agreed-upon definition.
  • Wisdom is related to both knowledge and goodness, but it is more like a product than a sum of the two.
  • Wisdom as perspective involves seeing the strengths and weaknesses of every way of looking at the world and incorporating them into your worldview.
  • Pursuing wisdom can make your life and the world around you better, and is a universal solution to many problems.
  • Aspiring to wisdom is an ideal, and even achieving one definition of it is a great accomplishment.


Effectiveness of Personality Tests

Spencer Greenberg’s study compared the effectiveness of the popular Myers-Briggs test and the “Young In Test.” The results showed that the Young In Test had higher predictive accuracy than the Myers-Briggs test. The Big Five Personality Model was found to be the most accurate by academics.

Effective Techniques for Habit Formation

Motivation, triggers, consistency, mini habits, and identity-based habit change were identified as key factors in forming and maintaining habits. Understanding the role of these factors can help individuals create effective habits and avoid negative patterns of behavior.

Understanding Values and Wisdom

Valueism is a personal life philosophy that helps individuals determine what they truly value and how to create those things in their lives. Wisdom involves aligning intention, action, and outcome, and can be pursued through both virtue and a process of exploring essential truths about life.

Trusting Intuition and Rational Analysis

Trusting intuition can be helpful in fast and familiar decisions, but rational analysis is important in complex situations. Finding a balance between the two is key to making wise decisions. The FIRE framework provides a guide for when to trust intuition and when to use rational analysis.

Defining and Pursuing Wisdom

Wisdom is a complex and multifaceted concept with no agreed-upon definition. It involves a combination of knowledge and goodness, and can be pursued through different perspectives and virtues. Pursuing wisdom can lead to personal growth and a better world.


In this episode, Spencer Greenberg shares insights on habit formation, the effectiveness of personality tests, and the pursuit of wisdom. Understanding the factors that contribute to effective habits, questioning the accuracy of popular personality tests, and exploring different definitions of wisdom can help individuals make better decisions and lead more fulfilling lives.

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