The biggest problem with habits is that it’s hard to stick to them. After a while, we just stop showing up. How do we trick our brain into helping us? I have a method.
In The Value of Doing a Little I suggested only doing the bare minimum so that you’re more likely to stick with things. That works well, but often, it’s not enough. Knowing that you’ll do the bare minimum helps you get through your habit, but it’s still hard to get up from the chair and actually start. It doesn’t kick you in the butt.
Now, love them or hate them, you show up to work meetings. True, most could have been a Slack message if only communication between you was better, but you show up to them nonetheless. The meeting gets onto your calendar, you prepare for it, check the time, and show up exactly when and where you need to.
Without a valid reason, you wouldn’t be late to a meeting. You wouldn’t delay it at the last minute. And even more so, you wouldn’t just completely miss it.
That’s the power of meetings. I have a daily meeting at work every morning and I’ve never once missed it. It’s perhaps one of the most regular things in my life. By contrast, during the same period, I started about 3 different exercise regimes and many more “daily” habits that went nowhere.
What if we could harness the “showing-up” power of meetings and bring that to our habits? I’ve been trying for a while and, so far, I like the results.
I now put my “major” daily habits onto my calendar. From 8 to 8:45 AM, it’s exercise time. That’s my meeting with exercising. I know it, and my partner knows it. At 8 AM, I need to show up. If I don’t, I need a really good reason. Just like I wouldn’t skip a work meeting, I wouldn’t skip this one.
My partner studies Italian from 11 AM to 12. She puts her devices on do not disturb and at 11 AM she’s in front of her computer and shows up to her meeting with Italian.
It’s so good that, to me, it almost feels like a superpower. My brain made a strong connection between the concept of “meeting” and “showing up consistently”, so this trick effectively hijacks this connection for my own good.
Want steps to do? It’s simple:
- Add your habit to your calendar. Don’t forget to set a reminder a couple of minutes before the habit starts.
- When the time comes, you’ll get a notification. It’s time to show up for your habit. That’s it.
- If you live with someone, tell them you have this meeting at X time on Y day, so they can nudge you and make adjustments accordingly.
- This is a real meeting. You’re busy. Don’t schedule something else during this time. Don’t accept other invitations. Don’t have a meal during your meeting.
It worked for me. Let me know how it works for you.