Habit as a deterrent


Most self help books and blogs typically advocate the use of habits and rituals for attaining goals. For example, they would say get up early at 530AM and do half hour of exercise. Or, set aside half hour a day for journalling. While it does help a lot of times to do this, this has its own problems. For example, you get up late one day, you would blame yourself and postpone the exercise for the next day. If you still want to do it, it would hit other rituals of yours, and delay yourself further and so on. Worse still, you would be grumbling at yourself for not having done your initial ritual(s).

I recently read this great FastCo article, which talks about about this conundrum. If you rather set yourself a goal of half hour exercise per day, this could work out better. You could do a 15 minute work out sometime in the afternoon. Perhaps work in another 15 minute walk after lunch. Maybe take your kid to the park and do some walking there. You would reach your half hour of exercise.

Today may not be the same as tomorrow. Maybe I could not get up early enough today because I had late night conference calls the previous day. Maybe I would be able to get up much earlier the next day. So again, the ritual goes against this philosophy.

Again, this is not a satisfy-all formula. In fact, that is the whole point. What works for today may not work for tomorrow. What works for exercise may not hold for diet. What works for the summer days may not work for winters. Hold yourself accountable for the end goal rather than how you reach the goal.

(Reference: FastCompany article)

(image src: flickr)

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