Without particularly planning for it, this has been the year of cumulative habits.
- I started this year off by saying my resolution was to be “Optimistic, and approach situations with positivity. To say yes more.”
- To which was added daily meditation
- Which led to a short daily blog post
- And then a practice of other writing and editing other work daily
- Which resulted in an earlier wakeup time
- And a spoken-out-loud daily “magic phrases” into the mirror
- Then reduced email checking to once per day
- Then added a 30 second cold finish to my shower (heard about it here, it’s supposed to improve mood, and has an addictive quality: now I feel unclean if I forget it.)
- And finally, a weekly short video post.
All of the actions were facilitated by the first three, and none are significant, but in a cumulative form add a huge sense of direction and agency to my days.
In terms of time required (in hours per day), they look like this:
- 0 minutes (resolution)
- 30 minutes (meditation)
- 30 minutes (blog post)
- 1 hour (writing /editing)
- subtract 1 hour (waking up earlier)
- 30 seconds (magic words)
- subtract 1 hour (less email checking)
- 30 seconds (cold shower)
- 10 minutes (i.e. 1 hour per week of video post)
For a total time variance of: 11 added minutes per day of good habits.
(Up next: what about the habits that don’t stick? And why not?)
The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg) opens with the insight that habits are cumulative. Often there is this “trigger” habit that leads down the path to a whole bunch of other related, or unrelated changes.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo) describes something quite similar: improve one aspect of your life (tidiness) and suddenly, other aspects get much better. (BTW, I first encountered Kondo this past week, and found her little folding video quite enchanting, so I read the book. Every woman I’ve mentioned her to since has heard of her work, and every man has not. It’s a total gender split topic. )