Day 651 & The Little Details Make all the Difference - Metrics and Implementation Intention

Day 651 Record Keeping (78)
Day 620 Fixed Meditation
Day 497 Writing (74)
Day 37 Rowing (77)

Great sleep, great wakeup.

The Little Details Make all the Difference - Metrics and Implementation Intention

I finally got around to measuring my body for a solid metric on weight loss. I have been procrastinating on this for probably a year now. It really reminded me of a talk I recently had with my mother on meditation. I was advising her on how to make it a habit, and told her that the one thing that made all the difference for me was a basic measurement tool - a stop watch. 

One of the first stories I ever read on meditation was a book called Henry Sugar and Six More, a couple of short stories by Roald Dahl. Henry Sugar is a British gentleman who becomes very very good at meditation. His tools were a candle and flame and a stop watch. Ever since reading that story, which must’ve been when I was 10, I thought about doing exactly what he did.

I laughingly told my mom that I had been procrastinating getting a stop watch for well over 2 decades. I told her that since she has a stop watch now (she only procrastinated for a week or two) she was probably going to make faster improvements than I had. But it really is true - we always seem to overlook this key ingredient.

What your skill level is now is an important piece of data - a talisman that shows us that we are indeed improving despite feeling like we are endlessly churning our legs in the mud. It’s what the quantified self movement is all about. It keeps us focused through the danger zones and keeps us moving forward, because we have evidence that we have moved forward. This is particularly key in a habit-centric formulation of self improvement, when you’re doing a task automatically, with no feeling, at least initially, of pushing a skill. 

Another, similarly overlooked talisman is implementation intention, and forming a particularly crisp if-then parameter. I formed one for my writing habit, which has been lagging since I’ve been pushing it lately. Even the most mundane of solid actions can be used to create a fold in the mind that promotes automaticity.

For me, I tend to rest and drink a glass of water after rowing. So my implementation intention now is “after I finish my glass of water after rowing I sit down and start my writing habit.” Pretty easy, but like metrics, I bowl right over it, and later on I wonder why my SRHI scores aren’t improving. And now, I can already see the improvement occurring.

I’ve been writing down little maxims in a book I carry on self improvement. From all of this I’ve extracted two:

Tools and data pertaining to metrics are invaluable to self improvement, but are almost always forgotten

The more precise the implementation intention, the stronger and quicker automaticity ensues.