TLDR: good things: waking early / eating breakfast / running / knowing your desired end-state (doesn’t need to be perfect) / picking achievable goals / 1-1s
Today I did something for the first time. I woke up at 630am (alarm assisted). I laid in bed for for a while. Then I got up and got a glass of water, and brought my macbook to bed. I played some gentle acoustic music to wake my wife up. And then we made our bed and went for a run. We had breakfast at the coffeeshop. Then we came home. I showered, and now I’m on the way to work. I feel pretty good.
There are two things about this. First, I was hoping to do it ever since I got married. And second, I didn’t think I was actually going to do it.
Why? How? I was never able to do this on my own before. I definitely made ambitious plans in the past, maybe even when I was still a student. But there was a recurring pattern: big plans, minimal action, regression to the path of least resistance.
There are two other things I’ve made progress on in similar respects.
- It’s been 9 weeks since I quit smoking.
- Today was my 7th run in the past 2 weeks or so. (I started running after 7 weeks of nonsmoking.)
Here’s my central challenge in my life right now: How do I recreate this across more habits?
The non-smoking I did together with my wife.
My first 5 runs I did myself, and my wife joined me for the last two. We are committing ourselves to doing morning runs for the next 6 days.
A cool thing that we do in my company- and I’m not sure how common this is elsewhere- is regular 1-1 meetings. The idea is to use this time to share observations and surface things as early as possible before they become problems- any misunderstandings, discomfort, etc. It’s not exactly a performance review, though it could be used for that. It’s essentially a block of time that’s carved out to talk about what might otherwise not got talked about.
It’s such a great idea. Maybe it’s obvious to some people, but it isn’t for me. One of my worst and most ingrained habits is to just “go with the flow, indefinitely.” This is sometimes a good thing, but most of the time it means that I end up getting mired and stuck. I drive off the road and I just keep going without correcting the course. And it’s exhausting and unproductive but I just keep doing it. Clearly, I’d be better off if I learned to correct the course along the way.
Course correction (of course- lol) requires
- Having some sort of path or destination in mind. You can’t correct a course if you haven’t set it to begin with.
- That you make a decent starting attempt (as opposed to putting it off for “later”). You can’t correct a course if you’re not ON the course.
In the elegant words of my boss- know what you want, then do what you need to do to get to what you want. It’s that simple. Periodically re-evaluate what you want, but don’t get stuck re-evaluating your wants to death- that’s like going to a thousand restaurants without having a single bite to eat. Then you die hungry. But hey, at least you had a great fucking list of places to eat, mirite?
And then you hang out with other people who sit around making lists, and get really good at making really nice lists, and start having arguments with each other about the best sort of list, and what your list says about what kind of person you are, and then you start reading and writing blogposts about those lists, and you basically become a food-lister. When what you really want to be is a food-eater. I mean this is practically self-evident. Why would anybody choose fantasizing about a hypothetical non-existent future than actually living that future in the present?
- It’s difficult and painful at the start. Fantasy can be more interesting that the dull difficult bit of daily early life.
- Fantasy is easy when you don’t know what you want. You just pick things that are outside the realm of immediate possibility. Like going to Mars. And then you just enjoy your fantasy as an escape from present day.
- Inertia? Just getting moving can be tough.
- Who cares
- I’m done listing reasons for why I’m not awesome
The point is that you have to pick something within the actual realm of possibility. Something that you can actually do within the next hour- like read a chapter of a book, for instance- and actually do it. And then now you have one thing that you have done and that you can be legit proud of.
One of the most amazing things that happened to me was when I started asking people in my life if they believed that I would do something. I asked a smoker buddy if he believed that I’ll still be a non-smoker next month, and if he’d bet $50 on it. He said yes. I asked my wife if she believed that I’d go for a run when I got home from work. She said yes. These are things that mean a lot to me, because I’ve spent a lot of my life not being able to trust myself. I know that I’m full of shit, I know that I avoid tasks that I’m supposed to do, the nature of Visa’s reality is that shit doesn’t get done, shit goes missing, shit goes unfulfilled, and so I just live with that. Enough of that shit, it’s really sad.
What do I want right now? I want to write down all my habits and processes and improve them one at a time. I’m done with cigarettes. I’ve started running. I’ve started doing weekly 1-1s with the wife. I ought to do daily 1-1s with myself. So while it’s a bit silly to spend time writing about it, I committed myself to writing vomits everyday. This is my morning commute vomit. I’m at work. Now I’m going to do work. TTYL.