Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Power of Habit - The Myth of Self Discipline

 I love early mornings.  I get so much done.  There are so many high payoff things I like to do in the morning that for years, I would push myself to wake up earlier and earlier.

I have read a lot about how self discipline is limited.  One great study had subject memorize a 2 digit number or a 7 digit number then they were asked if they wanted chocolate cake or a piece of fruit.  The ones with the more difficult task chose the cake much more than the healthier choice.  The moral seems to be the more people use their mind, the less it can be used for other things.

When the mind is not sharp (as in tired from use), it reverts to the habit or the norm. 

Again, a great study of 1,112 parole board hearings in Israel.  The judges have a grueling pace of solid hearings.  cases heard in the morning and after breaks have a 65 percent chance of being released.  Those heard late in the day, drop to close to zero.  The judges norm and comfort is to not grant release.

One habit I have is "do the worst thing first thing".  And I also create multiple first things - eg first thing when I get up, first thing when I hit the office and first thing after lunch.  This knocks off three tough things per day.  What I had not considered about that habit is it might just be the freshness of my mind that makes the habit so effective.

People often comment that I have high self discipline.  But I do not (especially with some things).  What I have is good habits.

I have long talked about the power of success habits.   Things we repeat daily make who we are.  If properly planned, they make us successful.

Part of this is also the power of compounding that I talked about in my TED talk.  Add even 10 calories per day or walk an extra .1 mile determines who adds 1 pound per year or sheds 1 pound per year. 

Work on habits to be successful.  Work on habits to appear to have self discipline.

 And my knee is almost better.  I can walk now.  Seriously on the mend and will be perfect in a few weeks.

2 things I am loving these days.  Gmail tabs.  I really thought I was efficient in deleting spam and doing the most important emails first but tabs makes it easier.  I can scan the whole promotions and social tabs in 10 seconds and delete.  It really works well and saves me time.

I am also loving my Blackberry Q10.  Lightning fast surfing.  Gps that works well.  It is not yet perfect.  Voice commands hardly work (in that it cannot recognize what I say).  And it is not entirely intuitive yet.  Now this one solves itself with use but no device should need someone to look up something to know how to do something.

But of course really loving.  My grand kids.  Victoria at 4 months.


At 11:39 PM, Blogger James Strock said...

Thanks for an interesting post. One thing I've observed in many people who exhibit great habits of discipline is the capacity to find fun or joy or interest even in mundane tasks or tasks thought to be disagreeable. They reframe the situation into something positive. This can be a deliberate choice. The result can be distinct from forcing oneself to do things that one faces with anxiety or trepidation as disagreeable. Simple but potentially powerful.


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