A quick story for you.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I’ve been without a car for going on 2 years now. The impetus for doing so was that I felt I was becoming “too soft”. Reliant upon a technology that, 90% of the time, I didn’t need.
I was sacrificing a good bit of daily movement opportunity for the sake of ease and convenience. And the “ease and convenience guy” is not who I want to be.
I made a plan and “scripted” my outcome (we’ll get into that in a bit) and soon thereafter I was riding 50+ miles per week.
Not bad. Ease and convenience? Not this guy!
Now since that time I’ve moved both my home and the Paleo f(x) offices twice. New routes; new routines. I had to become familiar with the city bus system. A little-known fact: you can get just about anywhere in the greater Austin metroplex with an easy combo of bike and bus.
This last move though, was especially challenging. In the midst of moving itself, I had to deal with an especially challenging travel/speaking schedule and the taping of our Health Hacker f(x) summit.
The long-story-short of all that is the master of systems and processes – me! – failed to establish a new system and process to make getting on my bike fool-proof here in my new environment.
The result? I slipped back into the habit of reaching for those goddamn car keys!
It’s been a great re-education, though. The master never stops learning. Or if he does, he doesn’t remain the master for long.
So, what was different about my new digs that I had apparently figured out in my previous environment?
In my previous environments, my bike, bag, helmet and shoes, jacket… EVERYTHING was all placed by my tools/workbench (for last minute tweaks) which itself was stationed in the garage and on the same route out of the house I would take no matter what mode of travel I’d opted for. This is the same path I would take if I were driving, walking, Ubering or biking. If I were going to take any other mode of travel, I would have to pass directly past my perfect biking set up.
Was it foolproof? No. Nothing is. There were times early on where I misplanned for meetings and had to drive to make the destination on time.
And I’m a stickler for time. If you’re not 5 minutes early, you’re late!
BUT in doing so, I had the reminder of my ill-planning right there in my face. My bike and gear sitting there like a sad, neglected puppy.
It sounds stupid… but it works.
In my new environment, I hadn’t yet taken the time to set up the same triggers. The same staging. The tools of my trade, so to speak, were scattered all around my new place.
Where’d I put my helmet? Where are my goddamn shoes!? It was now a pain in the ass to get on my bike.
We can call the systems and processes established for the support of a given habit “scripting”. Just as I prepare for a presentation delivered on stage, I “script” the habit outcome I wish to achieve.
The biggest mistake I see people make when it comes to establishing new, good habits (or breaking bad ones)? Thinking they can just “logic” their way out of it.
Logic won’t work, because that’s not the part of you that needs to be trained. And this has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact, oftentimes, the more “intelligent” a person is, the tougher it is for them to make a habit change. Precisely because they see themselves above the need to script in the appropriate way.
“I’m smart enough not to need to do that”, they’ll tell me.
And sooner or later, they fail.
Oh they’re very good at conjuring excuses as to why they failed (the conscious mind is very good at creating “just so” stories to support an outcome). But they fail just the same.
I have to write, everyday, to feel whole. I need that creative outlet. Otherwise (like missing a workout) I can become a whiny little bitch by the end of the day and not know exactly why.
My conscious mind then goes to work to find a reason:
Michelle (AKA, meesus TTP).
One (or all!) of our four dogs.
The dishes in the sink.
Shit’s not perfect with any of my entrepreneurial endeavors.
The political scene!
The list of possibilities is endless…
9 times out of ten, it’s never any of those. It’s the fact that (1) I wasn’t creative, or (2) I didn’t MOVE in some form or fashion.
Now for the movement part, I’ve set up my bike routine. And I have weight training options scattered throughout town and in my garage.
But the writing thing? I’d just try to “squeeze it in” when I could.
Wrong answer. Script for the outcome, or it won’t happen.
So this is what I did:
I’ve scripted my process such that I end every writing session in the middle of a sentence (hat tip Hemingway, for that trick).
Then, in the evening, I stage my computer so that the first thing I see when I sit down in the morning is that unfinished sentence staring me in the goddamn face.
Now for me, the world can burn the fuck down before I let that sentence go unfinished!
And that sentence inevitably leads to another. I’m off to the races at that point. And I haven’t even made coffee yet.
Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world –