Friday, May 23, 2014

Tiny Habits, Big Summer

Happy day to you, dear reader!  I’m writing this on a Friday afternoon, having spent my day taking care of a ton of little things, including such excitement as:

* completing the paperwork on my estimated taxes for 2014.  I don’t owe anything right now—hurray!

* writing and posting summer advertising for tutoring.

* sorting and filing some mail.

* paying rent and health insurance for June.

* updating my subject qualifications on my WyzAnt Tutoring profile.

* petting my kitty every time I see her.

* listening to two talks on habits.

And it’s that last item that I’d like to discuss with you today.  On a scale of 1-10, how good do you feel about your habits?  I’d put myself at maybe a 7—pretty good, but I could definitely use some improvement, especially in the work arena.  I’d be happy to live my life at an 8.  (Mathematically, maybe this means that most days are 8, but some days I have a 10 and other days I am a sluggish 6.)

The first talk I listened to was actually an interview.  Jonathan Fields talked to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.  The second talk was a TED talk by BJ Fogg on tiny habits as a mechanism for change.

The interview delves into the neuroscience of habit, which is interesting, but I think the second talk was more relevant.  In it, BJ Fogg tells you exactly how to use his tiny habit approach to make a goal into an everyday habit.  The key: make a tiny change, do it after an everyday habit (like your morning coffee), and celebrate yourself for doing it.

A while back, I made a tiny change that has more or less become a habit: push-ups before bed.  I think I started with three push-ups and now I’m at five.  I’m totally happy staying at five.  I also do some yoga stretches and maybe some plank position and call it good.  Does that sound lazy?  Perhaps.  But I can do this every night, no matter how tired am, and that’s what matters to me.

I want to make another change; this one is related to my tutoring business.  My goal is to be an awesome chemistry tutor, and that will require time spent brushing up on the basics.  I’m thinking about spending 15 minutes a day studying a chemistry textbook, and I want to do this in the morning, during or after my coffee.  Is 15 minutes too much?  I hope not!  It’s enough time to let me chip away at those textbook chapters, so that eventually, when I sit down with a student again, I will know that I recently reviewed anything they might throw at me.

I think that I need to be more deliberate in setting up my study time.  At the end of the day, my eagerness to study is often zero, especially if I’ve spent most of my day at my day job.  And yet, I’m feeling guilty that I am not spending more time studying.  I have excuses, of course, but I’m trying to move beyond excuses in my athletic life and my professional life.  To do so requires being intentional about how and when I plan to accomplish my daily goals.

Tiny habits, big summer: bring it on! 

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