Throughout last year as I reviewed each month I repeatedly identified health and fitness as an area which I needed to work on however also an area which does not come naturally to me. As such my initial focus was on finding a simple way to introduce some physical activity to my day. The approach I ended up settling with was to park across the school campus every morning meaning that I had to walk to get to my desk. The walk isn’t particularly arduous, being around a 5 to 10 minute walk, uphill on the way in, in the morning and downhill at the end of the day. This idea worked for me for a few months however when the cold weather set in I am afraid I dropped the idea and returned to using the main cark park which is a significantly closer.
My resolution for 2017 has been to revisit the physical and health aspects of my life however this time I didn’t want to just be content with a short walk twice a day. As such I restarted parking across campus however I also set myself a daily step target. My plan was to increase this target and hopefully move to jogging possibly.
The above worked quite well for the first week, with me hitting my target every day however the second and third week brought with them an issue. It became clear that on some days I would meet my step target however on others I would reach home at the end of the day still having failed to meet the target, despite the walk across campus. At the end of the day the prospect of going out for a walk, especially in the currently cold weather, was not particularly appealing. If I wasn’t even hitting my initial target how could I hope to increase it over time?
I have been reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and he described situations where people’s habits included a plan for how they would deal with difficulties. E.g. how would a smoker deal with that stressful moment which leads to them craving a cigarette. I needed to identify a habit I could use to help me meet my step target. Ideally a habit that was easy to start at the end of the day after a full day at work, and a habit which didn’t involve having to go out in the cold.
The solution I arrived at was to make use of the stairs in the house, to climb them, up and down, to reach my step target. This represents a reasonable physical activity similar to that of walking uphill, yet is easy for me to get started and carry on until I met my target. It is now my new habit.
I wonder what other activities, which are affected by motivation, might be helped by identifying a habit and plan ahead of those difficult moments. I also wonder about how developing habits, aimed at dealing stressful and/or difficult situations, might help students.