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My Trigger Worked. Here’s What Happened…

03/27/2014

in Exercise, Habit Change

On Monday, I told you about a new bet I placed on myself to stay accountable and finally get to the gym multiple times a week.

Guess what? It’s working. Even when I don’t want it to.

I’ve been checking in to the gym 5 of the last 7 days — but most days, even I’m surprised that I actually end up working out.

Here’s what happened on Tuesday:

I was coming home from work around 5:30pm and spotted the gym — remember, I specifically picked this gym because it is on my route to and from work.

Honestly, I didn’t feel like working out. I was tired, it was cold and I just wasn’t in the mood. But remember, my only objective is to complete my micro-habit by going inside and checking in. At the very least, I didn’t want to bruise my own ego.

So grudgingly, I stepped in the door and walked up the stairs to swipe my card, fully intending to turn around and immediately walk out.

Then, as I swiped my card, I noticed an empty leather chair in the lounge area.

“Might as well sit down before I have to go back outside.”

One thing led to another and before you know it, I had a cup of coffee in my hand.

(It was right next to the chair — laziness preserved)

I started sipping.

What’s this? A small spike in motivation?

It’s was probably just the drugs working — but I didn’t care. I went with it.

I checked my watch…

“I have 15 minutes to kill before I have to be anywhere…might as well walk on the treadmill or something.”

I started walking, then the endorphins came.

45 minutes later, I’d completed an entire workout, including the squats seen in the gratuitous selfie above.

And the true power of the micro-habit/trigger system dawned on me.

It’s so daunting to try something new — especially when you have big expectations for yourself.

You want to win. You want to be successful. You don’t want to let yourself or the people around you down.

But that’s the beauty of starting with something very small, like just walking into the gym.

The barrier to entry is small, but the potential dividends are huge.

Start something small. Today.

You’ll be amazed where it might take you.

{ 9 comments… }

Kevin Mc Creesh March 30, 2014 at 6:58 pm

That’s sort of how I fooled myself into giving up smoking 2 years ago. I was not stopping smoking.. I was just gonna see if I could replace the next smoke with nicotine gum, then repeated that for each smoke break with no psychological pressure of thinking that I had stopped smoking. After a few days I knew I was on my way to being a non smoker but kept the attitude of ill just not smoke this one and if I need to I can smoke later. Longest period of not smoking for me yet, with no big goal.. Just a series of little ones.

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Daniel March 29, 2014 at 6:32 am

Very well-written article.
Thank you so much for sharing that insight!

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Shari March 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Good job Maneesh! Keep at it!

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Quinn March 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I’ve been quietly reading your emails,so i thought it’s about time I left a reply. Well done on the gym thing, i might check in more often to see how it goes, I have started up working out again myself, so i could use the inspiration, Yup thats right, I’m a chubster, but hey if a famine was to break out tomorrow, i would survive haha!!, stay strong bro!!

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Tulio March 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Nice hack Maneesh. Checking in is a great tinny habit. Changing the gym was also very intelligent.

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Casandra March 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I wish my gym had leather chairs and coffee! I’d probably spend a lot more time there too.

I go 4 times a week but willpower isn’t involved anymore. It took a full 6 months to get to this point but it’s just a habit now!

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Bianca March 27, 2014 at 11:44 am

Hey! I think you are great at breaking down information and going back to basics. Explain how and why your theory works. I never took the time to really think about it. But I apply the same microactions in my life to lead to a goal. I’ve been wanting to start every morning with a short yoga session. I noticed that every morning, as I put my water to boil on the oven, I had about 5-10 minutes to kill while waiting. I then decided that every morning, as I place my kettle on the stove, I would hit the yoga mat until the whistle sound would be heard. And voilà! Thanks to your breakdown, I totally understood the mechanics of my actions. Thanks!

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Janis March 27, 2014 at 11:34 am

Yes, I tried something small and it worked. I was trying to get out of bed every workday verrrry early. (I used to get up whenever, often as late as 9:30 a.m.) I finally figured out my stumbling point. I did not like the cold in the room in the morning. It is better for me to sleep in a cooler room but it is hard to get out of a nice warm bed. So I bought a ceramic tower heater with a remote control. My small habit change was simply to hit the remote as soon as the alarm went off. I got hit with a blast of hot air and it became so much easier to throw off the covers. I now get up at 5:30 a.m. everyday. The ‘me’ from 10 years ago would be amazed. Find your stumbling point and do one small thing to fix it.

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Gray Miller March 27, 2014 at 11:32 am

I started a blog over a year ago, and challenged myself to three posts a week. They averaged about 1000 words each, and I kept it up for over a year with only a few lapses.

Then I decided to see how it would feel to quit. Maybe I’d said everything I thought was worth saying; maybe other people (yourself included, Maneesh) were saying it better.

Interestingly, I found myself drawn back to it. It has become part of who I am, what I do, and now I’m starting to work towards that first book on love, life, and practice…

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