Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Put Your Sneakers By The Door

I'm a runner. Okay, really I'm just a jogger and I usually plod along. But I'm most days you will find me outside running three to five miles. My friends ask me how I do it, how I get the discipline to run every day. Honestly, that's easy. It's become a habit. I automatically lace up my sneakers (mostly in the morning) and trek out just because it's become part of my day. I don't often think about the health benefits, or the extra food I might be able to eat. Running is just part of me.

I'm also a writer. Well, not really. I'm a blogger, who has written a few articles, a couple of books and most recently a chapter about Positive Psychology and high performance teams. However my writing, unlike my running, comes in fits and starts. At times I have to force myself to sit down and write something, anything, just to get going. But unlike those writers who say they have to write every day I havent' gotten in the habit. Why? I haven't put my sneakers by the door.

No, I haven't lost my mind. I've heard that in running one of the toughest things to do is lace up your sneakers. I disagree. The toughest thing is to put them on. When you place them where you can't miss them they are a constant reminder that they want to be worn. When I first went back to running a few years ago I put my sneakers in a very visible place as a reminder every day. Now I don't need to do that.

But what about something else you want to do? Whether you are a writer, a parent, a professional and there is something you want to improve on, or at least work at every day you can create habits. The easiest way to create a habit is to develop a ritual that you do on a consistent basis.

I've not created a ritual for my writing. For those who follow me on this blog I you know I haven't written for about a month. Though I know I write best in the morning I always find myself reading the news first, or scrolling through my emails and the next thing I know the morning has disappeared. Even running can be a distraction from my writing. A fellow artist told me the other day that he wakes up and starts writing. No distractions, no checking email. He has created the time and the space where he immediately puts words to paper (or words to screen). That might work for me. I need a visual reminder of what I want. As I open my laptop in the morning, or unscrew the top of my fountain pen I can enter a world of words and get lost in them.

Putting your sneakers by the door is a ritual reminding you to put them on. Placing your laptop or pen in a quiet area and going there the same time every day is equally as ritualistic. What is your ritual to the next thing you wish to do?

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