The Three Alarms by Eric Partaker

Eric Partaker was a workaholic who had a heart attack on a flight and nearly died. This wake-up call caused him to re-examine his life and seek balance. In his book, The Three Alarms, he shares a simple system for reaching your full potential in the three domains of life – health, wealth and relationships. Partaker calls it IPA: identity-based change, productivity and anti-fragility.

To create new habits, it’s easier to step into a new identity because behavior follows identity. The idea here is that if you want to be more healthy, then think of yourself as a “World Fitness Champion.” Or, for example, in your work as an attorney, think of yourself as the “World’s Best Litigator” and describe your best self as creative, tenacious, convincing, and caring.

To become more productive, you need to design powerful routines into your day. Partaker divides his days into maker (creative) mornings and manager afternoons. Partaker also believes in the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The great thing about this principle “is that it reduces the set of actions you could take down to the most important, meaningful ones.”

Anti-fragility is the idea that stress builds strength. Partaker provides ways that can improve your ability to handle the unexpected. For example, visualize all the things that could potentially go wrong in your day or with your presentation and how you would respond.

The three-alarm method is a way to organize your day using IPA across the three domains. Partaker’s technique is to set 3 alarms on his phone. Each alarm is for a specific time of day, and labeled with the identity he aspires to:

6:30 am: World Fitness Champion;
9:00 am: World’s Best Coach; and
6:30 pm: World’s Best Husband and Father.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.