One surprising aspect of running a blog partially dedicated to habit change — and creating a product to help people change their behaviors — is that it’s still just as hard for me to change my own behaviors sometimes.
Part of it could be due to what’s described as “expert blindness.”
Essentially, when you’re constantly surrounded by certain concepts, or you talk about them all the time, it’s actually harder to articulate the most basic principles.
This is the same reason that many superstar athletes or brilliant thinkers have trouble teaching their techniques. Once you get to an “advanced” level, sometimes going back to basics in hard.
Imagine Tiger Woods trying to teach a group of elementary school kids how to swing a club for the first time.
“It’s not hard. Just do it!”
Hopefully he wouldn’t be a jerk — but you get the idea. It’s exhausting to focus on little details that you already feel you’ve mastered.
This type of “blindness” is actually quite detrimental to the learning process because without observing the basics, it’s very easy to get off track.
Over the past four weeks, something similar has happened to me.
I don’t consider myself the Tiger Woods of habit change — but I have managed to do some pretty cool things, like losing 23 pounds in 28 days, or creating a system to write 750 words per day consistently.
But recently, I’ve been so focused on building my new company that some of my most basic systems for keeping my habits and behaviors in check have failed.
In particular, the systems that allow me to feel healthy and strong.
I’ve been trying to control my late night eating — and to a certain extent, it’s working well.
But there’s a roadblock in the way: Alcohol
Alcohol creates a predictable chain reaction of drink >> eat >> drink.
Then, when you factor that in over multiple days, the chain looks like: drink >> eat >> drink >> too tired for the gym
As a result of this cycle, I’ve gained 10 lbs in the last 6 weeks. Not good.
So it’s time to implement a new system consisting of two elements:
- Eliminating alcohol
- Check in at the gym, 7x/week
Yes, you just read that. 7 days per week.
Now, why would I go from one extreme to another? I don’t really NEED to hit the gym 7x/week, do I?
No. And the reality is, I probably wont. My only goal is to “check in.” If I don’t, I owe $50 to charity. And I’m even holding myself accountable online:
“Checking in” means that all I have to do is arrive at the gym, and walk up the stairs. That’s all I have to do.
If I don’t work out, fine. Because “checking in” is my micro-habit.
It’s a very small habit that makes the possibility of me following through with my bigger habit MUCH more likely.
Now, all micro-habits must be preceded by a trigger — something from your everyday life that reminds you to do the habit.
For instance, if you wanted to run more and your micro-habit was to just put on your running shoes in the morning, then your micro-habit could be your alarm ringing. It happens every morning, and it’s a cue that reminds you to put on your running shoes.
In my case, my trigger is walking past my gym. And I’ve made it exceedingly easy on myself by SWITCHING gyms from one located a block past my work, to one that I have to walk past to and from work.
When I see it, all I have to do it go upstairs and “check in.”
From there, I let the habit take care of itself.
I wanted to share this with you today so that you can get a better idea of what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis.
I’ll keep you updated on my progress.