This is my 260th post. That means I’ve been showing up every week with a post for five years. This is not what I envisioned when I started. I gave it six months mentally. I decided to write a blog for six months and then make a decision. Well I did the first part. I wrote a post every week for six months, but I never made a decision. I just kept showing up. We all do that. Make a decision by not making a decision. Success by default.
I started an exercise program 3 plus years ago. I show up everyday and work out. I do three mental games on Luminosity every day for about 3 minutes. I’ve been doing that for about 3 years and 4 months. I meditate every day for 10 minutes. I’ve been doing that for over 4 and a half years. I didn’t do it all in one day. On January 1st, I didn’t decide to start writing a blog, working out, mediating and doing some mental games. Sounds like a lot. It couldn’t be maintained if I did it all at once. I would be overwhelmed and burned out. I added something to my routine gradually over time. Small incremental changes over time and being committed to showing up. Once it’s part of my routine, it’s hard to shake. It’s what I do. I know how to show up.
So how do you do it? How do you show up? Here are some tips:
1. The 20 Second Rule. Set things up so it only takes 20 seconds. Shawn Achor wrote about this in The Happiness Advantage. If your sneakers are by your bed, or your meditation app is on the first page of your phone, or your dvd is primed with the workout you want to do…you will do it. Take the clarinet out of the closet, the book you want to read off the shelf, find that recipe you’ve always said you would make. Whatever you want to “show up” for better be easy to reach, find or access. I started writing my blog after my husband refinished an office for me. I have my space and it’s easy to access my “blog” folder. Showing up should only be 20 seconds away.
2. Buddy. Find a buddy to hold you accountable. Periodically, my son (who was a freshman in college at the time) would text me in the middle of the night and ask me to wake him up in the morning at some designated hour. He would add, “And make sure I stay up!” Hmmm. How am I supposed to do this from an 11-hour drive away…throw a shoe? At the appointed hour, I ask him to send a photo of the elevator (his dorm is on the 11th floor) within 15 minutes. It worked. He knows he can count on me. I’m his accountability buddy for early morning workouts. Find your accountability buddy–someone to nudge you when you need it.
3. Bucket. When possible, set up routines when you have a full bucket. A full willpower bucket. As Charles Duhigg illustrates in The Power of Habit, “We all start with a full bucket in the morning of willpower.” Slowly but surely, it leaks away. The more we test our willpower, say by trying out a new diet (strictly eating cabbage all day) or trying to quit smoking…we quickly deplete our willpower reservoir. So if you want to start a new routine or habit, try it early in the day before you start to be tested or try only one new habit at a time. So don’t quit smoking, go on a cabbage diet and start writing a blog all in the same day. Really bad idea. Keep in mind the level of your willpower bucket.
4. Chunks. Make big things into small chunks. How do you eat an elephant? You start with an eyelash. When I coach folks, this is something that only the coachee can decide. If I tell the coachee, well, finish the project by Friday…they will not lift a finger. They need to decide how they want to chunk it. Some spend 15 minutes a day; some will have their to-do list for the week by 10 AM Sunday; some have an app for that; some start on the top shelf, the left side of the drawer. Chunk it up. But make sure you are chunking it the way you like it. Would you let your friend cut up your food on your plate for you? Nope. Carve it into the chunks you want.
5. Reflect. Reflect back on what you did…not what you didn’t. I’ve had clients come into a coaching session and be completely dejected. “I didn’t get anything done.” Really? By the end of the session, when we really look back, they’ve completed every action item, frequently over-completed, but they are focusing on the one thing they didn’t get to. I only exercised two times this week and I wanted to exercise four times. Don’t dwell on the one thing you didn’t do. You are human. Bask in the fact that you completed so many other things and you are moving forward. Reflect and acknowledge your accomplishments.
I never imagined five years ago that I would have a thriving blog with hundreds of followers and viewers from over 100 countries. But it’s a habit now. I show up and write.
What do you want to show up for?