I'm finally running. After thinking about it for the last couple of years, I've been being consistent for four weeks. Now this might not sound that impressive but it has been about three years since I have consistently exersized for four weeks so I am calling it a win.
Now the interesting thing about it is not the running per se, but rather how I finally got over the hump and got going. I watched this video a little while ago - Good Life Project: Charles Duhigg - Power of Habit - and for all those looking at changing/starting/creating a habit, it's information is great. I believe in the power of habit and the old "you need X numbers of days to create a habit" makes sense to me, but there seemed to be a something missing from everything I'd read previously ie. how does one get to the X number of days. The video has the answer!
To sum up the presentation - every habit needs to have a;
- Cue - The trigger for the behaviour. To put your brain into automatic mode where you do the activity without thinking about it.
- Behaviour - The action or activity.
- Reward - The thing that encodes the behaviour into making into a habit.
Charles talks a little bit about what you need to do to set up the cue and then encode the behaviour through giving yourself the reward. The cue can be a time, a place, the presence of other people, an emotion or a certain preceding action. He goes on to say that the reward can be extrinsic to start with to get you going but eventually the behaviour itself can become the reward. For example you could reward yourself with chocolate to start for running at the beginning, and before very long the intrinsic joy of the activity itself takes over.
So bloody useful!
Now that wasn't what I did. I didn't use chocolate. I did use cues to create a ritual to get this thing started.
The cues I'm using are fairly simple. I am putting my runners and running tights on first thing in the morning, not eating breakfast and leaving them on until I've gone running. If I have to wait until the kids are out the door that's fine. Some days I've worn them all day and gone at dinner time. The fact I have them on is the cue. And because I'm not really a fan of doing my life in gym tights then I want to get it done so I can get dressed. Clever hey!
The reward has very quickly become the thrill I get from being "a runner", and from knowing that I'm not just allowing my 41yr old body to crumble into decline without putting up a fight. But there is one big other reward which was unexpected but really fun. I've been making sure I have some super album on my phone ready to go. This last week I've been revisiting the early 90s. I did Beastie Boys Ill Communication early last week and then this morning moved on to Billy Bragg. I haven't listened to him in ye-ars. By the time I got back from my run I was ready to start a revolution! (Love you Billy x). I'm taking the joy of the music into my day.
Finally I also did a couple of other things. I removed some of the barriers that I often use to get out of doing what I know I should be doing.
- Knowing that perfectionism is often an issue for me I decided to go every second day rather than every day. That way I couldn't use the excuse that "I haven't done what I said I would do and so therefore the whole thing is ruined". Cue dramatic face. This way if I actually do miss a day I just do it the next. I don't need to be perfect.
- Knowing that I often have kid stuff/life stuff/family stuff getting in the way at particular times I decided this time I wasn't going to try to do classes that involved an hour and a half and were only on at a particular time. With running it takes 30 minutes from start to finish and I could do it anytime by walking out the front door.
- I've purchased a few things so that weather is not a barrier - it's heading towards winter here. I can run in the rain or the sleet. I just need my jacket.
What in the hell does this have to do with craft Semple?
Excellent question! I've been thinking about my habits around purchasing as part of Stash Less. I've written in a previous Stash Less post about the triggers I am aware of. Of course my friend Charles in the video calls them cues - potatO, poTAto. This last week or two I've spent some more time considering what they are, what behaviour they create and what rewards I'm getting. I've realised that I actually have different cues for different types of buying.
For example I buy knitting patterns - that I don't necessarily need or use - when I am stuck in my current projects. I am so habitual about my crafting that when I don't have something easy to pick up I start dreaming about what else I could work on. I surf patterns, I surf Ravelry, I surf Pinterest until I find something I can buy. It takes up time and energy and causes random purchasing.
Another example of a cue for me would be hearing on social media that there is a "new" fabric collection, yarn release or pattern. I get curious and I want to go and have a look. Having "a look" causes me to wander around online shops and from there I can feel the unthinking behaviour taking over. I put things in my cart and I purchase, justifying it in the moment to get to the reward. Waiting for the post person is exciting.
Knowing and understanding the habits means that I am able to change them. With that in mind, I recently went through my email and "unsubscribed" from nearly every shop mailing list and every instagram account that tempts me. I removed a cue!
Anyway this requires some more thought but the idea that you can replace one habit with another is fascinating to me and something that I know will help me get closer to having the type of buying habits I am ultimately proud of and comfortable with. I really want to be a conscious consumer. And I'm going to get there!
Anyone else have habitual buying patterns that they know of?
P.S. Here is Charles Duhigg's TED talk - It's terrific!