I am marking today the loss of my best kitty friend – Sisko. He died a week ago, and I’m still not able to chat about it without tearing up. How is it we can give our hearts so easily to a pet. What is the meaning of having pets in our lives? Why would I want to go through heartbreak again? I guess that is what makes us loving, nurturing beings … whether a cat or a human. I can tell you that when Sisko stretched out on my lap and reached up with a paw to pat me, he was saying he was supremely happy in my company. And I took that as a form of love.
If we spend all our assets based on priorities – this much for food, this much for indulgences, this much for car payments – do you think of time that way? I’m starting to. How careful I tend to be about spending, but think nothing of a day half gone on the weekend with nothing to show for it. Will it make me a better person if I try to imagine time like money? Probably not. But I hope it motivates me to exercise more often… sigh.
So how do I incorporate motivating myself without being obsessive about time? Is it a good thing or a bad thing to think about how many summers are left, or whether to be quite guilty about being a couch potato on a rainy afternoon. How many times we use metaphors for time that have to do with value? Time is money. Spending time. Yesterday is a canceled check.
Are you contemplating how you ‘spend’ your time? Do you worry about it? Am I nuts?
OK, gotta go! Time’s awastin’
It’s been a long cold lonely winter. But you know what? Spring has GOT to be here soon. And with it is new beginnings, right? What is it about Spring that makes us want to start anew. Is it spring cleaning? Is it clear skies (well sorta clear skies, if you live in Portland like I do…not necessarily perfectly clear skies). And is it clarity we seek? Clarity … I am cloudy today after learning about the death of a man I knew who I thought was a pretty good guy. Drank too much, yeah. Lousy eating habits, sure. But a really smart guy who was a leader in his field. To put it nicely, he died in the arms of “another woman,” and not his wife. And I’m really bugged by the comments of those who are saying, “yeah, but what a way to go.” Really? REALLY? He’s like a bad baseball statistic that requires an asterisk to explain the rest of the record. Every single time anyone thinks of him now, they’ll think of this truckload of garbage he also heaped onto his family and his grave, so to speak.
So, what’s this got to do with spring and fresh start and clarity? Doesn’t the death of someone, and the end of winter make us stop short and think? The start of spring and the loss of someone we know certainly leads me to introspection. Watching this man’s life end so swiftly and so dramatically makes me pause. Maybe what I take away from this loss, and this new season, is how I start over in small ways – like my work (see below) trying to carve new habits with tiny steps. So. Today I’ll work at approaching my work with gusto. Today I’ll get that 30 minutes of exercise in. Today I’ll pick up ALL my clothes. It’s such simple stuff that adds up to the whole life. I’m trying to remember that as I think about this man. I’m going to try very hard to not focus on the death of this fellow, but the life. As for myself, I guess in the end, all I have, or anyone for that matter, is today. Never know about that tomorrow, do we?
If you know that line in the headline, you’re a Three Stooges fan. Or at least old enough to remember them. And it’s reflecting my effort to establish new habits, using the BJ Fogg “Three Tiny Habits” experiment, or program, or system – whatever he calls it. Fogg, a Stanford professor, is watching and learning from folks he invites through Twitter to form new habits. So I jumped on board. And here’s what I’m learning.
Fogg says the way to form new habits means doing some things in tiny (30 seconds or less) bites. He invites his followers to choose three tiny habits and begin to practice making them AUTOMATIC. That’s the key … automaticity.
For example, after I come into the house, I will hang my coat in the coat closet. After I go up the stairs, I will drop my keys in the key bowl. After I brush, I will pick up the floss. The trick is to say it in your head, then do it, do it, do it.
It’s working. I don’t HAVE to floss after I pick up the floss, I just have to have done the action… and in just a few days it becomes pretty automatic.
Fogg dismisses the idea that it takes 21 or 30 or whatever days people say to form a new habit. He says what he’s learned is it takes making it automtic, however long that is – days or longer.
So as we approach the season of setting goals, creating new habits, and practicing being just all around better people, what tiny changes might you make to create a habit? I can tell you my dentist is gonna love mine the next time I see him!
Ever notice how easy it is to do something you really want to do? Like eat chocolate? I’m finding it harder and harder to motivate myself to do things I know I’ll WANT to have DONE. Like exercise. Or organize paperwork. Or deep cleaning. Is this so wrong?
BJ Fogg is a Stanford professor and expert in behavior change. He talks about persuading people to change their behaviors and has very interesting observations based on his work with individuals and companies. I’ll summarize but you can read the full article here. He’s also created a site for his project called “Three Tiny Habits.”
His thoughts are these:
1. Choose a simple behavior to target. And don’t we all say – I’m gonna lose 15 pounds, or I’m gonna exercise 5 days a week. What if we start with I’m going to increase the steps I walk in a day.
2. Learn what is preventing the target behavior. Answer: chocolate. But what BJ says is it boils down to three things: 1) lack of motivation, 2) lack of ability, or 3) lack of a well-timed trigger to perform the behavior. Hmmm, that last one is intriguing isn’t it?
3. Choose the right channel to motivate the behavior – what would be your trigger/place/motivator to make a change?
4. Start small and fast.
5. Build on small successes. Isn’t that the truth? Instead of beating myself up because I’m so behind on my paperwork, why not say, OK, today 15 minutes. Tomorrow, another 15 minutes. Martha Stewart (I can’t believe I’m quoting Martha) taught me something I thought was brilliant and I do it to do this day. When you have a task you gotta tackle – and don’t really want to do – give yourself permission to stop after 30 minutes. We can all clean out the junk drawer for 30 minutes, right? Chances are you’ll either get done, or be motivated to finish it. Viola.
So, today, when you’re making choices about what to do next, build in some triggers to do what you should do.
And one of those things sure better be eating some chocolate.
One of the fine, fine benefits of fresh unemployment is the (false) illusion that you’ll have so much more time to get to those things. You know what those things are. Sock drawer (I swear it’s Smurfs who take socks and that’s why I cannot find mates), update financial records, organize recipes, lounge in the sun, write a blog.
Hey, wait. I’m writing a blog. Hurrah, I’m tackling one of TT (those things).
So, to me. Newly unencumbered by a clock, wreckless in my giddy-ness to begin, I begin. Today is just that. A new beginning. Why not? Why the hell not?