Shower Power

3 simple steps to guarantee you’ll do what you say you want to do, far more often than you do right now

Photo Credit: modenadude Flickr via Compfight cc

The question has been raised plenty and most of the scientific answers are pretty straight forward:

  • Triggers like music, exercise and showers release dopamine in the system which makes humans more creative.
  • When we’re relaxed, we’re more creative and showers are more likely to put you in a relaxed state.
  • Showers distract us which in many cases can give us a new context from which to think about a problem from a fresh perspective.

Notice that in each situation, the correlation is having a shower, but the causation is actually more about dopamine, being relaxed and being distracted.

If that’s true, why can’t we just create scenarios where those kinds of triggers happen more often?

The idea of creating more moments of opportunity in the shower isn’t the point. What I want to actually do is consider how can we set up every moment in our day for maximum return… or in many cases, just do what we say we want to do.

For example, each morning after I wake up, I make the conscious decision to look over my commitments for the day, decide in advance what will happen and write down how things will go, regardless of circumstantial challenge.

Intention is locked.

But, like all of us, things get in the way. I wake up late. My intentions get interrupted. Distraction throws me off my game.

That’s why I decided that I don’t get breakfast until I write out my list. And, I love breakfast. So much so, I get my list written every single morning without fail. It doesn’t feel hard anymore either. It’s my meal ticket that delivers a lot more than food.

When I integrate good triggers, causation kicks in. And my execution cranks up to an entirely different level.

Imagine how much more potent your life would become if you engaged each moment with intention — plus intelligent triggers — that give you the biological fuel for maximum performance?

The following are 3 simple steps I suggest to improve your chances of doing the things you say you want to do, with creativity and grit:

  1. Take stock of the habits you want to cultivate in the upcoming season of your life. This list should be actual habits formation, not productivity stuff. My list includes mundane activities like flossing my teeth, writing 1000 words a day and deciding my days before they begin. With a nod to Stephen Covey, stick to the important and not urgent stuff if you can. Keep your list small, especially at the beginning.
  2. With your ambitions clear, you’ve established your good intentions. Now, envision a routine that will set you up and increase the likelihood of success. One trick I learned from James Clear is to habit stack. Simply insert a ‘so easy you can’t ignore it’ mini-step between the habit you want to knock out every day and inactivity. These mini-steps cue you to get moving and are easy to implement because they’re things you already like to do. Examples abound… Put a hold on breakfast until your list is written out. Make a rule for yourself that you can’t use the restroom until you put your running shoes on or floss your teeth. Don’t let yourself have a sip of coffee until you’ve written your first 25 words. By creating metaphorical pilot holes, you make the drilling easier every time.
  3. Practice. Set a ritual for each habit right now and give it a try. Imagine taking a few minutes right now and thinking through a few habits that would change your life forever, if they were your own. Now, take some time and creatively invent the triggers you suspect will move you toward those goals every time you do them. Consider things you already like to do and stack the new habits next to the old ones. Write out your plan and do complete your first day right now. The point is to chunk your habit goals seriously and establish a plan you can count on. If it helps, you might even want to grab a shower to get the juices flowing.

Post Script: When I suggest these kinds of incredibly doable vehicles for developing the habits people say they want in their lives, most respond in one of two ways…

  1. The first is they just do it. No kidding. They just get after it and get what they want out of life through a methodical process of transformation. It’s awesome.
  2. The second is they come up with excuses for why they can’t. They’re too busy. They have trauma or drama going on. The perceived expectations of people in authority over them are in the way. They don’t actually want to make the change they’ve said they wanted. The process is perceived as too hard and believed better left untried.

The reason these two opposite responses are remarkable to me is because whether you decide change is possible and you leverage intention plus proven techniques in habit formation; or if you decide change is not possible and there’s no point in even trying… you’re right.

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Idea wrestler. Epiphany chaser. Host of convergepodcast.com. Founder at fastermind.co and danesanders.com.

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Dane Sanders

Dane Sanders

Idea wrestler. Epiphany chaser. Host of convergepodcast.com. Founder at fastermind.co and danesanders.com.

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