Either you develop habits, or you don’t. Several years ago, I made up my mind that the only way I will regularly go running, is if I run regularly. I committed to myself to make running a habit.
Almost every single weekday since, my alarm has gone off at 5:00 a.m. Every day, I wake up and get out of bed. Most of those days I go for a run. Some of those days I actually run for the distance I set out to run. It took several months for this new practice to become a real habit. Now, most weekdays, I wake up before the 5:00 a.m. alarm and feel guilty if I don’t get out of bed.
My victory is not in the run itself, but rather in the habit I have created for myself to get out of bed early to provide the opportunity for the run. That’s one habit. One victory. Lying in the wake of this one victory though is a battlefield full of wounded and dead habits I have tried to create, or even harder, break, to make a better life.
In week 7 of Working Out Loud (WOL), we evaluate whether or not we have created the habits necessary to create our goal. This week, I asked to be the first one to speak during our meeting to express my frustration with myself. I have clearly seen what I need to do to succeed in achieving my goal, but I have yet to create the habits.
This week, I sat down in front of the Twitter screen, and told myself it’s time to connect to more people who manage external Yammer networks (my WOL goal). How do I do that? I sent out a Tweet.
Much to my surprise, this simple Tweet resulted in a number of re-Tweets, and I got added to a Twitter list of other Yammer professionals. Though I am happy about this victory, my challenge now is to turn it into a sustainable habit.
During our WOL meeting today, another person in our group pursuing a goal of finding more of a work-life balance, talked about the Pomodoro technique, which encourages you to plan your day so you are working non-stop for shorter periods of time, with planned breaks in between. The technique is named after the classic Pomodoro kitchen timer, and has developed a dedicated following over the years.
In pursuit of a work-life balance, this member of our group has started to use the Pomodoro technique, and has even begun to use it at home. Though she lives in a clean, well organized apartment, she told us how much she hates to do the actual cleaning, and how she always feels like she has to set aside hours of time to get the task done. So, what did she do? She tried the Pomodoro technique.
In 3 short, 25 minute bursts of uninterrupted activity, she had her apartment completely cleaned in only an hour and a half. She did not feel overwhelmed, she did not feel lazy, and she had much more time for other activities throughout the rest of the day. In other words, she created a new habit at work, found an application for home, and found new time and new balance.
Although she has found new time and balance in her life, the challenge will be if this victory of hers can turn into a meaningful habit. The challenge will be if I can turn my Twitter success into a habit of regularly sharing, learning and connecting.
The good news is, we still have five weeks of Working Out Loud left to go. On to Week 8!