I don’t know about you but I practically go into hibernation in the winter. It seems like right around Thanksgiving I start drinking more beer, eating more cookies and generally doing a lot less for my body and health.
This year was particularly rough (in terms of ‘me’ focus) as we welcomed my newest son to the world in the beginning of December, shortly thereafter nursed our other kids through stomach bugs, had Christmas followed by unplanned house renovations, followed by the flu…
The point of this post is not however to gripe about my life, not in the least, the point of this post is that there are a lot of things that happen in life that will pull and push you in different directions and if you’re not looking at where you’re going then before too long it’s easy enough to find yourself somewhere else.
Discipline isn’t something that comes easy for me. From the outside you might look and say “well, but, you built a whole new business while running another one how is there not discipline there?”. The truth is that doing that didn’t requir
e much discipline at all. I was (and am) passionate about building something and I only on rare occasion thought of any of it as work.
Self-discipline is doing the things you don’t want to do because you know you should.
It’s the things that I don’t necessarily want to do or I’m not overly enthused about or the things where the pay-off isn’t immediate. Those are the things that are hard to do and do consistently.
I need exercise. I love riding my mountain bike. I don’t, however, love riding in the New England winters and a stationary bike isn’t exactly the same as single track with drops and features add to these de-motivators the inner seasonal clock though that tells me it’s time to drink beer until mid-March and it makes for a slow me in need of a change.
The 30 Day Challenge
If you’ve ever heard of Matt Cutts you’ve probably heard of his 30 Day Challenges. Each day for 30 days Matt tries to do something new.
Now I’m going to be the first to admit that riding indoors for me is not something new. It is however a suitable alternative to riding trails, in terms of building or maintaing fitness but it’s boring and that’s why it requires self-discipline.
So, in order to stay on track I’m using a few queues and rewards.
If you’ve read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg then you know that he talks about queues and rewards and how these are the building blocks of good and bad habits.
In the winter my queue is about 4 – 4:30 it’s almost dark, the dog wants to walk, I want to stop working, maybe I have a couple of Highlife’s in the fridge – take said dog and 2 beers and go for a walk, turn on Mixergy, or Startups for the Rest of Us, or the Lifestyle Business Podcast or whatever and walk for about 40 minutes.
How I’m Going to Make it SuccessfulWhat I’ve realized is that a big part of the reward that happens after that queue is the podcast listening. That might sound ridiculous but the fact is as a solopreneur with VAs and contractors and not a lot of humans to look at on a daily basis other than my lovely wife and children, it can be pretty isolating. So I’ve come to recognize that the podcast connection is really a huge part of my unhealthy routine. I crave hearing about other people’s efforts, success, and failures in business because it allows me to reflect more deeply on my own.
Second, I use a super-sized post-it note to manage my weekly goals in business I’m doing the same thing with the riding. I’ve posted it big and clear as you can see in the attached image so that there’s no mistaking whether or not daddy is going what he said he was going to. I blocked off 30 days starting on january 31st because February is a short month and each day I’ll write the amount of time I spent on the bike.
This is important and it really calls on a couple of forces.
- I’ve made my goal public, anyone who walks in my house can see it
- I’m using the Jerry Seinfeld “Don’t break the chain” productivity technique
- I’ve setup the “workout area” so that I have to pass by it to get to my office, there’s no ignoring it
Third, I’ve posted it right here so now the whole Interwebs knows.
Fourth, I’m keeping the necessary components (cycling shoes, socks, etc) right there where I don’t have to look for them
Sixth, I’m using a timer to ensure that I’m honest
Finally, before I go to bed I’m laying out my riding shorts
My aim is to post one of these per month and to report progress from the prior month. This year the challenges I’m considering include the guitar, writing daily, coding daily and we shall see what else.
If there’s something that you’ve been thinking you need to add to your life or that you’ve always wanted to do or that you simply know you have to do for your physical or mental health, try this.