This Week In Running A Gym - August 15, 2014

Another week in the life of. Let's zoom out a bit and look around.

A big part of my experience as a small business owner is a gradual acceptance that there is no separation between life and work. Early on I accepted this, but as a temporary necessity, the cost of starting a business from scratch. Later, I sought to create that line, by scheduling time away from work, by adhering to strict-ish hours, by getting organized. All good steps, but I've come to see that my performance as a manager is directly related to how I treat myself and how I spend my personal energy. So even though I may set up formal divisions between work and private life, of course, it's one and the same person.

Over the past several months, Leon, Craig, and I have been studying our way through a nutrition course. It's called Precision Nutrition, and I recommend anyone who eats food to check it out. Part of what I like so much about it for trainers like me is that they close the gap between nutrition knowledge and making practical changes to behavior. When it comes to changing behavior, success is all about making the many small adjustments that support the new goal. Think about somebody going from couch potato to the gym. Just the act of getting to the gym requires they schedule a new thing into their day, displacing what they used to do, possibly affecting other people or family, they have to arrange for their transportation and food, not to mention overcoming psychological factors such as embarrassment, doubt, and physical discomfort. So a key factor in making behavior change is in not getting overwhelmed by it, which means that you can't try to do everything at once. Our former couch potato probably shouldn't also expect to remodel the kitchen and quit smoking at the same time.

Which brings me to the guideline to only change one habit per month. You can read about this in more detail here. The gist of it is that your habit needs to be a physical action you can perform and you have to be totally confident you can do it. So “eat better” is too vague, but “eat a vegetable with breakfast” is good. On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that you can do this? If you don't give it a 9 or 10, then choose something easier. Success will come when you focus on small practical changes which will accumulate benefits over time.

The one habit at a time thing has stuck with me since I read it. A statistic connected to it is that 80% of habits formed on their own are still done 1 year later, but when people try to change 2 habits at the same time, their success rate a year later drops to 20-35%. With this in mind, I've put it into action over the last couple months. The habits I tackled were NoFap and YNAB. What are those things, you say? Well, I tried writing that out in an earlier draft and it took me so far afield that I was moving off the point of this week's article. So if you want to know what they are, you'll just have to look them up yourself.

The main thing I want focus on is how the one habit per month thing has played out for me. First is that it's perfectly acceptable to try to do a bunch of additional things, as long as your focus stays fixed on the main thing. I've also been taking a 60 second cold shower a day, getting to bed by 10pm, and taking fiber and supplements. But those other things are not the priority, I don't track them, I don't worry about whether I did them or not. I do keep a record of my daily success on my regular Google calendar. Second, is that by only selecting one habit, I have peace of mind that I'm doing what I need to be doing right now. I tend to think about all the things I want to do better and then guilt myself into attempting to do it all at once. When this doesn't last I drop everything and live with the mess until I'm ready to attempt it all again. Now, I can tell all those little voices in my head that yes, I'll get to that but all in good time. First I've got this one thing on my plate. Choosing only one change also presents an opportunity to prioritize. My first habit, NoFap was decided along the lines of, “that would be interesting, let's try it.” But my second one, YNAB, was more carefully considered. I had time to think about what to do next and what kept coming to mind above all else.

So now I feel like I have this tool, a guideline for making the changes that I want made, and what has me encouraged about this is that it's so simple I know I can keep it going through high and low periods. The power of less. I look forward to seeing how far it can take me.

By Morgan on Friday, August, 15, 2014