Rishi's blog

Habit Forming - 50 First Dates - Report

As I captured in previous post, I started the habit drive on 19th Jan 2016. Now it is 50 days since I started, and this is my first report.

Habit - Daily Exercise

What to do

In accordance to Rule #1, I picked “7 Minute Workout” to be performed every day. This is a collection of 12 exercises, covering entire body. Each exercise lasts for 30 seconds, 10 seconds break between 2 exercises (which makes it total of almost 8 minutes, not 7 min as the exercise name suggests).

The exercise and the science behind it is covered by an excellant New York Times Article here. I downloaded the free app provided by New York Times Group itself (iTunes link here) (Apparently it used to be free when I bought it, now it is $2.99. Other free variants available on iTunes)

Trigger

  • Morning, after brushing the teeth.

Report of First 50 days

  • I was completely consistent, did exercise every single day. Some days were easy, some were tough. But as I’ve made plans for this (Rule#3), importance was given to consistency. And on many days, I felt I couldn’t do it. But once I started, I was able to complete most of it.

What went right

  • It was only 7 minutes, so easy to do. -“7 MWC” app provides visual guidance on how to perform the exercise, which was helpful in initial days.
  • Also, “7 MWC” has a nice calendar in it. Once I complete exercise, it automatically marks that day in the calendar. This helps me to track, and keeps up the daily chain (to understand the concept of daily chain, read this article by world famous comedian Jerry Seinfield)
  • I had planned to be consistent every single day. This has helped me, I didn’t have to wonder if today is the day I’m supposed to exercise or not. With this journey, I’m realizing it is more of mental game than physical game.

What to be changed/improved

Nothing yet. I’ll continue to follow 7MWC for another 40 days, and will decide after that.

Impact:

Already feeling better with fitness. Exercise is getting easier. There is also an interesting impact - as I complete this first thing in the morning, there is a sense of accomplishment, and day starts on a positive note.

Habit - Meditation

What to do

I downloaded an app called “Headspace”. It is a subscription based app, with 10 days of free guided meditation. Each session is 10 minutes long.

Trigger

  • Morning, after exercise.

Report of First Month

  • I did it regularly for first 10 days. After that, I was undecided whether to a) Find another free app, b) Use this app free sessions again, or c) Go for paid subscription. In the end, I did a mix of a) and b) and ended up being inconsistent. From last 45 days, I would have meditated approx 25 days. Fail from habit forming aspect.

What went right

  • Headspace app is good guided app. Helped me in initial 10 days.

Lesson Learnt

  • I started ambitious. My mornings are packed, and sparing 10 minutes for meditation AFTER 7 minutes of workout was very challenging. I should have started with lesser duration.
  • Lack of planning of timing for meditation. Meditation is different from exercise. In exercise, I can do it surrounded by people. In meditation, I need to be alone. So, order of trigger was also not good.
  • Lack of planning for app to use. I stated with Headspace, then moved to Calm, and now to “Insight Timer”. By moving around apps, I couldn’t have a central place where I can track my progress. The daily chain concept, which helped me in exercise was missing from here.
  • Drop days: Due to previous points, I struggled to keep the routine, and had few days where I forgot meditation. As Tynan notes in his book “Superhuman by Habits”,

    *Missing two days of a habit is habit suicide. If missing one day reduces your chances of long-term success by a small amount like five percent, missing two days reduces it by forty percent or so. Three days missed and you may as well be starting over. At that point you have lost your momentum and have made it far too easy for you to skip in the future."

What to be changed/improved

  • Trigger: Trigger to be changed. I’ll now meditate as soon as I get up.
  • App: Going to use “Stop Breathe and Think”. It is a simple app, where one can do un-guided time based meditation.
  • Timing: Will do for 3 minutes for one month. Start small, be consistent.

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