Month: October 2010
Next month, the following new rules are now available:
- Study (something interesting)
- Go to bed before (you specify the time)
- Spend (however many minutes you want) minutes of quality time with your kids
- Stop using the computer after (you specify the time)
- Volunteer (however many hours) a week
- Save $(however much you want) every day
- No gluten
As you can tell by the parentheses in there… I’ve also added a new ability to specify a bit more detail about some of these rules. You can now specify how many minutes of exercise to do per day (rather than relying on the default 30 minutes), you can specify which musical instrument you want to practice, how many hours of sleep you need a night, how many minutes of meditation you want to do a day, how much reading you want to do, how much writing you want to do, etc.
Check them all out now and start choosing your rules for November!
- Set your own goals. Don’t accept standardized, cookie-cutter exercise plan. Create one that’s tailored to your needs and fitness level. (You can work with a professional on this, but you make the final calls.) Equally important, set the right kinds of goals. Ample research in behavioral science shows that people who seek to lose weight for extrinsic reasons – to slim down for a wedding or to look better at a class reunion – often reach their goals. And then they gain the weight back as soon as the target event ends. Meanwhile, people who pursue more intrinsic goals – to get fit in order to feel good or to stay healthy for their family – make slower progress at first, but achieve significantly better results in the long term.
- Ditch the treadmill. Unless you really like treadmills, that is. If trudging to the gym feels like a dreary obligation, find a form of fitness you enjoy – that produces those intoxicating moments of flow. Gather some friends for an informal game of tennis or basketball, join an amateur league, go for walks at a local park, dance for a half-hour, or play with your kids. Use the Sawyer Effect to your advantage – and turn your work(out) into play.
- Keep mastery in mind. Getting better at something provides a great source of renewable energy. So pick an activity in which you can improve over time. By continually increasing the difficulty of what you take on – think Goldilocks – and setting more audacious challenges for yourself as time passes, you can renew that energy and stay motivated.
- Reward yourself the right way. If you’re really struggling, consider a quick experiment with Stickk, a website in which you publicly commit to a goal and must hand over money – to a friend, a charity, or an “anti-charity” – if you fail to reach it. But in general, don’t bribe yourself with “if-then” rewards – like “If I exercise four times this week, then I’ll buy myself a new shirt.” They can backfire. But the occasional “now that” reward? Not a problem. So if you’ve swum the distance you hoped to this week, there’s no harm in treating yourself to a massage afterward. It won’t hurt. And it might feel good.
The Kindle app on my iPad doesn’t have page numbers… percentages are the new page numbers perhaps. The above passage is from 75% of the way through the book, Drive, which I highly recommend to anyone at all interested in learning more about how to motivate themselves.
A couple interesting notes as it all relates to Health Month.
The first point we’ve got covered. You get to choose your own rules, and even choose your own difficulty level for those rules.
I’ve often said that the best way to play Health month is with the long view in mind. Life is long… we can take our time in getting our health habits figured out, as long as we focus on making small changes over a long period. This relates to the idea of competence and mastery, which the book also covers in depth.
As for the last point… I have tried Stickk.com and think it’s an interesting idea, though it does seem to be somewhat carrot-and-stick like. Maybe Health Month will get big enough to be worthy of mention in a future edition of the book.
Also, perhaps I should review the effectiveness of having “bets and promises” along with your monthly challenge. Or maybe it’s a matter of figuring out what is best to put in that box. I’m open to ideas on how to learn from all of this… so let me know your thoughts!