The Importance of Habits

I’m not breaking any new ground here, but I’m the latest convert to the importance of habits.

As I get older, I realize that my body and brain would like to spend more time on auto-pilot.  I tell them every morning what I want to do, and they respond with “Ok, sounds good” in that condescending way a teen-age responds when you ask them to run an errand. Then by the middle or end of the day, as I’m pleading with my brain and body to do the things we agreed upon, I discover they have taken the rest of the day off and I’m stuck in whatever pattern has been established for me after thousands of  hours or days of practice.

Thus, my renewed effort to create new habits. I find that the most successful people I know do things that make them better naturally – as if their body knows to do them. They don’t have to find time to get to the gym, they have to find time to meet you for a drink.  They don’t have to make a conscious decision to skip the fried chicken, they already have a turkey wrap sitting in front of them. It’s these little things that they do automatically that seem to give them the extra time and energy to do the really hard things.

So here are some habits that I’m going to spend July and August employing:

  • Meeting people who want to brainstorm for walks around Greenlake or down on the Waterfront, rather than for coffee or beers.
  • Getting to the gym every day.  Even if it’s for a 10 minute walk on a treadmill. Just getting there.
  • Picking 4 hours a day of computer time in which the email and IM is turned off.
  • Writing on the blog at least 100 words a day. Even if I only get those 100 words down, at least I’m 25% of the way to a 400 word essay.
  • Throw away 10 things per day.  I know my friend Liz Pearce does 15 per day, but I need to start somewhere.

Now there is a difference between rituals and habits.  I think a ritual is something you do at the same time every day, like getting to the gym at 6:00am.  I just want to start with habits. Maybe I’ll evolve to ritual.

So if I seem like I’m blowing you off for coffee to suggest a walk up and down 2nd Ave instead, don’t take it the wrong way. All I’m trying to do is build in some habits that make me healthier and more efficient. And that doesn’t mean I’m not going to meet you for happy hour.  It just means I’ll do so if I make it to the gym earlier.  We’ll see how it works out.

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