The previous post explored the concept of making action steps become habits as a way to stay on track of keeping our commitments to achieve goals and get things done.
This post looks at ways of reinforcing those habits and the benefits that come from that.
From struggling for months to consistently write content for my book, I wake an hour earlier, most mornings before the alarm and look forward to spending the next sixty to 90 minutes writing.
Why the difference?
- First the Big Goal – To finish the book this year.
- Commitment – To spend at least one hour and write not less than 1000 words five days a week.
- Developing a habit – The same routine every weekday morning, wake up before 5:30 am, let the dog out, bathroom, shave, get dressed, grab a big glass of water, switch on the computer and start typing. No tea, no looking at the days plan, no Internet, no distractions, not even my usual early morning ritual of motivational reading and meditation. All that now comes later.
- Going to sleep anticipating the pleasure of the next morning’s writing session.
The first three points can be applied to achieving most goals or to completing different types of projects. The last point will differ depending on the nature of the goal, project or commitment, it needs elaboration.
Here’s how I anticipate the pleasure I will get from the next day’s writing session.
- The sense of achievement of knowing that I honoured my commitment, that I did get up at 5:30, did write more than 1000 words.
- The anticipation of adding the word count to the spreadsheet I use to keep track of progress and review the book outline.
- Enjoying the nostalgia – right now I am writing about events in the 1960s. Putting the recollections into words evokes strong memories of people, events, activities, feelings, sights, aromas and thoughts, some of which I had forgotten for the last half century.
- Finding pleasure in devoting an hour a day to creating word pictures, enjoying that hour in its full undistracted glory.
- The knowledge that the completed book will entertain, educate and enlighten some readers, amuse others and irritate a great many who disagree with my views and beliefs.
- The knowledge that a published full length book will be a valuable asset for my business.
With practice, even unpleasant tasks like tax returns can be anticipated with pleasure. They have to be done anyway so lets imagine the relief we will feel when that job is done and the satisfaction of avoiding pain by knowing that the revenue authorities will not be able to make us pay a penalty.
The reinforcement to our commitments comes from building and strengthening that daily habit, persevering every day by doing what we have committed ourselves to do. It gets easier to do each day we do it, that’s how actions become habits.