ready, set, go
If you’re like me, chances are you’re far more inclined to choose a Netflix session over reading a philosophy book at night or doing yoga to unwind. Don’t feel bad, because I mean, what’s the harm in indulging a bit after a tiring day?
Well, you know the rule « an habit takes 30 days to build ». Fun fact is: if it works in one way, odds are the reverse’s also true. So, at some point into our second quarantine in France, I stopped a sec to try and understand how I’d end up binge-watching random playlists on YouTube every evening instead of writing / reading / [insert activity here]. I realised that, if it felt like I’d wasted some precious learning/practising time, it wouldn’t have felt right to have spent all this time working 24/7. A middle ground between the productivity injonction and my decadent lifestyle was bound to exist. It was all a matter of time until I found it.
regularity makes it stick – be accountable
« It takes 30 days to build a habit »
Alright. But how do you make yourself accountable for this new habit? (let’s face it, being responsible is more an utopia than a reality, especially when platforms like Netflix strive on autoplay to keep you around)
Well, you team up. When I was in Finland, I wanted to rekindle with daily writing, which I had put aside thanks to my being lazy. During one of my courses on change management, our teacher had us experience change first-hand. The deal was:
- we had to come up with a habit to build
- we had to write and report on our journey to the teacher daily. You read right. Whoever didn’t submit everyday was supposed to fail the course (we might have had 2 jokers and she also may not have checked but the threat was enough for the dorky student I am).
I won’t lie, this was annoying, but the good thing was, I actually managed to build the habit of writing daily because of this. The daily paper submission reporting on my process forced me to make some time in my (not so busy) schedule to write, reflect on it, and have the teacher validate it. And even if the person you team up with doesn’t grade you, feeling like you owe them a feedback on the habit you’re trying to build might help motivate yourself.
the 10% rule
I consider this more like a trick than a real method. I remember reading in the Carnet du temps by Livementor x 23heures59 edition a sentence that made all the guilt accumulated by my binge-watching session go away.
« Even if you improve yourself as little as 10%, the progress made in a year will be tremendous » (ok it’s not the real sentence but it’s essentially what they were saying)
So, even if you spend as little as 10 to 30min learning/practising something, it will be a step forward from where you stood yesterday. This progress, accumulated over a long period of time will certainly end up blossoming.
Think of skills as planting a seed. To eat the fruits of your future tree you have to tend for it. Water it daily. Same goes for knowledge. One step at a time.
the 10 minutes
And, in the end, the most difficult is always to sit down to start. I often tell myself « ok let’s go, even for 5-10 minutes, I’ll see how I feel then » to end up focusing on something for hours.
So maybe it comes down to this for the lazy a** that we may be: tricking ourselves into starting the machine. After a while it becomes automatic you’ll see 🐋