My First Habit: Exercise

According to the method I'm following to develop habits, there are a number of things you need to plan for each habit you want to build. First, is your timeline. I've heard that 21 days is enough to build a habit, but I've also heard that 6 weeks is needed.

The second thing you need to do is identify the habit you want to develop, and the trigger after which you are going to perform your habit. The idea is to condition yourself to always perform the habit after the trigger, so once you stop the training period you'll never stop.

The third thing you need is to identify what obstacles are going to get in your way. By identifying them, you'll be prepared for them and won't let them stop you from executing your habit.

The fourth item in your plan is your support structure. Identify the people who are going to support you in your habit building. Also, every day after you perform your habit, announce it somewhere public and relevant. This will help everyone keep you honest, and just knowing that they will do that will prevent you from missing.

Finally, identify what source of positive feedback you'll have. Positive feedback is very important to building a successful habit. If you enjoy the habit you're trying to build, you're already ahead. But if not, some sort of positive feedback loop to make you want to do your habit.

I'm adding one more component to my plans: how to extend my habits. This will serve as a reference for me if I ever want to come back and revisit the habit and develop it further.

Here's my plan for my first habit:

  1. Timeline: June 15th to July 30th
  2. Trigger: After waking up in the morning and going to the washroom
  3. Habit: Perform exercises from the fitness ladder

  4. Obstacles:

    • Rationalization. I'm going to say things like:
      • "Oh, I'm late for work" or
      • "I'm tired this morning"
    • Time. I need to go to bed in time in order to wake up with 5-15 minutes to spare
    • Motivation. There are going to be mornings where I don't want to do them.
  5. Support Structure

    My wife, @flying_squirrel and @TheIronGus have graciously volunteered to be my primary support structure. If you're interested in following along and supporting me, I've created a new Twitter account, @egerlachhabits to track my habit building. There should be one-two tweets per day on that account, so it will be low-volume. I appreciate any support any of you are willing to give.

  6. Feedback

    • I'm going to enjoy doing the exercises. It will feel good.
    • Also, my muscles will tone up, and my wife will probably enjoy that, which will make me feel good.
  7. Evolution of the habit

    • There's a lot of good stuff from the American Council for Exercise, particularly their workouts.
    • At some point, I'd also like to get a metabolism assessment at Iron Heart done, but that will be when I'm ready to take my cardio exercise to the next level.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to getting started. If you're interested in hearing weekly progress reports here, let me know and I'll post them.

But right now, I'm concentrating on June 15th, 7:30 AM. My first step towards building a new habit!