Positive habits are tough to form, especially, after a certain age.
Streaks are powerful.
Notifications help nudge you towards your goals. It also helps to have someone (or something) to keep you on track, continuously.
Like most of you, I started my new year with new resolutions. One of them is to click a photo of myself running 5K every day, and, send it to a select group of my friends/family.
This resolution is inspired by one of my mentors - Rajib Roy.
My initial process was simple. I just started running, like Forrest Gump.
Then, I realized, it is very easy to get started, but, much tougher to keep going.
The January weather in Northern California was brutal, sub-zero kinda cold, cloudy, rainy and foggy. I had to wear everything except my blanket to my runs.
The three step process that I used, is as follows.
Step 1: Set simple goals — it is important to come up with a simple, measurable goal that you can monitor continuously. In this case, I set my goals using an Apple Watch. I didn’t realize initially, but, completing all the three rings, everyday, is a very strong motivator to keep me going.
Step 2: Assign people you are accountable to — One of my coaches from business school, Marshall Goldsmith, applies this tactic to help executives shed some of their bad habits. It helps a great deal if you are accountable to a person who asks you simple questions everyday about the habit that you are trying to form (or leave).
For me, this included my select group of my family/friends, who nudged me if I missed reporting details of my daily run to them.
Step 3: Report feedback, continuously — If you are not reporting back your everyday status in a visible format, then it will be hard for you to keep yourself honest. I used Apple Keynote to build a collage of pictures, that I report back, on a continuous basis.
Technology is not all about addictive bad habits, it can help you form new positive habits as well. My Apple technology stack that helped me for this process includes:
- Apple Watch to track my three rings
- iPhone to click my photos as a self-timed-selfie when no one else is around
- Keynote to quickly put together a collage of pictures to share
The same 3-step process can be applied to many different positive habits that you are trying to form. I am applying the same process to other behaviors I am trying to inculcate, including, writing (if you have observed, my posts every week), reading, learning to play tabla and coding.
Hope to see you on the trail soon.