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In my book, Running Through My Thoughts, I talked about how I would get up every day, six days a week, and run. I don’t believe I mentioned that some of the time, I would sleep in my running clothes so that when I woke up, I only had to put on my running shoes to head out the door.
This strategy is one that was reiterated when I read Atomic Habits by James Clear. He talks a lot about how to create habits and routines that best align with how our brain works. We naturally go for the easiest route, so if we make our habits easy, we are more likely to do them.
The opposite is also true, if you want to break a habit. Making a task as difficult as possible will help keep you from doing the habit.
Making Habits Easier
I learned I could make a habit easier when I started wearing my running clothes to bed, but I hadn’t made the connection to making a writing habit easier until this year.
One of the steps I took to make my writing habit easier was to – well, make it easier. Waiting on the computer sucks the energy out of me sometimes. The process of logging on just seems like something I don’t want to do. But I still want to write, so why not grab a scrap piece of paper and start scribbling?
Since I learned this little trick, my writing output has increased tremendously. Not only does it allow me to avoid the computer, but I also know that there is no way the words I am scraping out will make it onto the internet.
I mean, I guess they could if someone took pictures and posted them, but that seems unlikely.
Because I don’t have to worry about these words even thinking they might be a final draft, the words flow free. Or at least freer since they will only live on the paper they’re written on.
Whatever you want to do more of, make the process as easy as possible to achieve. Remove as many obstacles as you can that come up between you and your desired habit. And, sometimes, those obstacles are walls you are putting up yourself.
I knew I wanted to write about goals coming from a place of self-love and compassion. I have talked this over with friends several times and written several notes, so I felt like I had a good handle on what I wanted to say. However, when I sat down to write the piece, the words got stuck somewhere between my head and my fingers.
Maybe it was because I was writing on the computer instead of a piece of paper, but really it was because I was making the entire writing process too difficult. I wanted to start with some kind of “hook” that I don’t usually do.
After struggling to find the right words to begin, I took my fingers off the keyboard and asked myself if I could make this easier.
I went back and looked through the words I wrote without much thought and found the perfect beginning to my piece. It led right into a story I could write that illustrated the compassion I needed to learn toward myself in order to be successful in reaching my goals.
Though I hadn’t read Atomic Habits before a few weeks ago, I was already implementing a lot of his strategies for creating habits and routines that allow me to reach my goals.