As of last week both my small eating habits became superhabits. My plan was to either start a wakeup plan, advance in eating by doing a meal prep on Sunday, or start a walking/being outside habit.
Lydia and I just got our city bike share card, and had a fantastic day cycling along several beaches, checking out a food festival, and exploring a park. It got us really excited and we sat down and decided we want to become outdoorsy, that we had to do it because of how easy it was. The main problem is that most difficult of freelancer dilemmas: waking up early.
We’ve both been dragging on getting up, and it’s always been on my list in order to cram more things into the day. But, as with eating right, I’ve attempted this habit many, many times and failed. So, as with eating, I’m going to tackle this as an identity based habit.
In my main blog post on how to construct such a megahabit - “Towards an Identity Model of Habits: Part III” - I talk about several methods to hit the problem:
-Greasing the Groove
-Counterintuitively Small Habits
-Falling in Love
-…and Miscellaneous Advanced Options
I think, when surveying options, the main thing to remember is that for these types of habits, the one thing you don’t want to do is to yet again attempt the habit you’ve tried to introduce before. We seem to think that THIS time it’ll be different, that this time if we really believe and clench harder, things will change, when we’ve seen our methodology fail time and time again. The answer lies in attempting new strategies.
I have always attempted this habit by just setting an alarm early and buckling down inside and just DOING IT. That has never worked. I’ve more recently tried Flux, a program that changes light on my computer and setting progressively early times to just get to bed. Those worked better, but eventually failed.
The method for identity habits should be the inverse - enacting smaller, less directly connected behaviors and building upon them so that when it comes to do the obvious, direct behavior, it’s almost like an afterthought.
Look, it’s not as though we can’t force ourselves to get up early. If I have to be on a plane, if I have an interview, if I have a job, it’s done. But that’s not what I’m talking about by these deep habits. I don’t want to wake up early, I want to be a Morning Person.
So THIS TIME, I’m going to start with three small habits. The first is recording (from the quantified self option). But I don’t like all the fancy apps and gadgets that attempt to pinpoint REM cycles based on body movements and whatnot. All I want is to keep it simple and record what my wakeup and bed time was for the day before. This is great, because I can build the recording into my food recording superhabit.
The next thing I’ll do is drink a cold glass of water as soon as I wake up. After looking at dozens of websites on how to wake up early, this has been one of the few consistent pieces of advice (I’ll consider this taken from the “counterintuitively small habits” category”).
Thirdly, I’m taking a cue from the “Fall in Love” Category. One other great piece of consistent advice has been to do something that makes you excited to get up. Krissy Brady from Lifehack writes:
One thing we tend to lose as adults is the feeling of freedom we had as kids. When we had no sense of schedule, deadlines, goals, or pressure, we were always emotionally available and our imaginations made us feel like anything was possible.
A lot of websites circled around it, but this is my real issue. I use to LOVE getting up in the morning as a child, and somehow, I’ve lost that. I was thinking about what things I’d love to do that give me that same sense I felt as a kid. Going to the beach, definitely, but it’s too long. Other websites talk about having no pressure mornings, but for habits and willpower, nothing beats tackling your hardest task at the very beginning of the day. And then the most ridiculous thing came to mind: making bacon.
As a child bacon was a treat. My mom made it only a few weekends, but those were the days I’d wake up early, I’d go biking, I had long mornings drenched in sun and anything was possible. It somehow encapsulates that precise spot of childlike glee. And because I’m eating primal, it’s not even cheating. Hell, I could use the cals - in Brazil I only got over a long plateau after I started munching on chicharrones. It’s easy, it’s a treat, it’s ritualistic, it’s in my home and doesn’t take too much time, and I can drink a cold glass of water while I’m frying it up. Done.
So my implementation intentions are:
After I record my food, I will record when I went to bed the night before and what time I got out of bed that morning. I will record this on the same spreadsheet I record all my other habits.
As soon as I get up I will make two slices (let’s not get too crazy here) of bacon. While I’m doing that, I’ll drink a cold glass of water. I will then grab my coffee and do my pantry check.
Positive: Waking up early will allow me the feeling of being a child, the feeling of unlimited energy and potential in the day. I’ll be able to take my time in all my tasks, from working out to writing. Afterwards, I’ll be able to get out and explore my city, which also gives me childlike glee. And it’ll give me the space I need to do more.
Stumbling blocks: I will forget what time I went to bed - I’ll have to have a place to note that down, and I’ll have to remember to write down what time I woke up. I’ll also have to remember to get bacon at the store - OH WAIT, it’s on my pantry check (finally some habits are building off others)! If I’m traveling I might not have bacon or a place to cook it on - though if I’m traveling I’m usually waking up early anyways.