I hate working out, but years ago I decided I wanted to get into the habit of doing some type of exercise every day. Each night I put out my workout clothes, and in the morning. I wake up put them on and do it. I dislike it, yet I do it. I never miss a day. Why did that habit stick and not my writing habit? I like writing! I was doing something right with my exercise workout but not with my writing habit. I just finished reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits.
In it he writes about the importance of change, how to add good habits or stop bad ones. How to make it as easy as possible to perform that habit so you will continue it.. To take out the friction that might slow us down enough to halt our progress. His philosophy takes into account human nature and setting up a system of success. Habits are about change. Change is hard. Our big goals are met when we do small increments of work every day. That ‘everyday” is key. So, I needed to put the habit of writing every day in place in the same way as I had my workout habit. Get over my resistance and reach my long-term writing goal of having a finished middle grade manuscript.
So, what was I doing differently from my workout habit from my writing habit? Unknowingly I had put into practice the system of success Clear writes about. His system consists of four laws. 1. Make it obvious, 2. Make it attractive, 3. Make it easy and 4. Make it satisfying.
I had put my clothes out at night -
I made a visual cue to make my workout obvious.
I listen to or watch a favorite show while I work out - I made it attractive.
I don’t drive anywhere to do my work out- It’s via DVD or YouTube.
I made it easy
I love being “done” with my work out before I start my day-
I made it satisfying.
No wonder it worked. I don’t even like working out. But I sure have benefited from those work outs over the years. Now I need to put this same system into play for my writing.
Each of his laws consist of a few exercises. For example, In the “make it obvious” law you can stack a current habit you already perform daily, with the new habit. Or create a visual cue. Like my work out clothes. Another is to set the intention by writing down, “I will (behavior) at (time) in (location.) Being specific takes away decision making. These tasks create that smooth transition into your new desired behavior. And combining all the exercises from each of the laws should strengthen one’s success rate.
So, while I drink my coffee each morning, I will sit at my computer and write for 15 minutes. There is a lot of great information in Atomic Habits. I’d highly recommend this book.