DAILY AUTOMATIC PROGRESS

I’m not going to lie…

I’m lazy by nature. Left unchecked, I would never get anything done. I always had trouble handing in assignments at school, and I always look for corners to cut.

In recent years I have become very ambitious, which mixes with my lazy attitude like oil and water. I’ve learned that most people are lazy to some extent. It is human nature to want to experience the most amount of pleasure with the least amount of pain.

I have often created vast plans for achieving my goals, but they would only work in a fantasy reality. I imagine myself turning into some sort of robot overnight that can work twenty-four hours a day without eating, sleeping, or needing to relax.
But these plans never stand the test of time.

Eventually I give up, and feel ashamed.

Does the progression towards your goals have to be this hard all the time?
No, and I think I’ve figured it out.

Daily Automatic Developmental Habits

This is something that fellow HelpfulGuy Leroy Milton and I discuss quite a lot with each other and with the new year starting, we want to really delve into how to internalize these habits and which habits to pursue.

A daily automatic developmental habit is something you do every day that guarantees you will get closer to your dreams.

Unlike baseline habits—sleep, diet and exercise—these automatic developmental habits focus more on accomplishing repetitive tasks that support you in accomplishing your goals.

I’ll use myself as an example.

My dream is to become an expert in the field of personal development. I want to write books, engage in the self help community, coach people one-on-one, give speeches and learn as much as I can in my field.

The daily automatic developmental habits that I enact to support this vision are:

  • Writing one page of content
  • Reading for a minimum of thirty minutes while taking notes
  • Engaging with someone in the community
  • Sharing a 2HelpfulGuys article
  • Coming up with ten ideas

Now, unless you have the memory of a goldfish you will be thinking to yourself “Wait, I thought he said he was lazy and took the easy way. That doesn’t sound easy to me.”

Well it can be, if you have the right approach.

Making Your Habits Automatic

In recent years the scientific community has discovered that your willpower is like a muscle, and you can only exert it so much before it needs time to recover.

When you first start trying to incorporate a new habit into your routine, it takes up a lot of your willpower.

After daily practice of your new habit for a period of time—some say twenty-one days, but I’ve also heard up to forty-five—your habit will cease to take up nearly as much willpower. This means that you won’t have to convince yourself to do it, it will just be natural.

This is where I always went wrong. This is why I found it so hard to get anything done.

I tried to incorporate too many habits at a time and didn’t internalize any of them.

Setting up your daily automatic developmental habits will be a long process, but I prefer long and stable over frustrating and short-lived.

No matter what you want to do with your life pick three daily habits that would guarantee you’d inch closer to your goals, and give yourself a month and a half to internalize each individually before incorporating the next.

After internalizing each habit they will become second nature to you, and you will be automatically progressing towards your goal every single day.

Live Like The Tortoise, Not The Hare

It is important that you become completely content with the idea of the long term, and taking it one step at a time. This is the only way to end up with automatic habits that transform your productivity.

Remember, I promised you automatic, not quick.

I love experimenting with different daily habits and seeing how they can improve my life.

It has taken me almost two years to get my habits in place and I’m still working on them, which is fine. Maybe I wouldn’t become a robot even if I could, because then I would cease to improve.

I’d rather be slow and stable, than to go Gung-ho and burn out before I get anywhere.

But this could all just be an excuse to take the long way around because, well…

am lazy.

walk slowly

One Simple Fitness Principle

I definitely need to preface this by saying that I am not an expert in this field, nor have I received any formal education on this topic.

I am purely speaking from life experiences and a compendium of research, that I have personally sent through my bullshit filter. Keeping that in mind, please consult your doctor before engaging in any physical activity.

In the purest understanding, fitness is a very subjective topic. Everyone has his or her own opinions on what works and what do not. Fitness is a combination of ‘research’ and bro-science.

For this reason, fitness has become a convoluted topic, with varying opinions filled with incredibly adamant people affirming their knowledge.

My base understanding of fitness consists of one core principle: Be active everyday. By being active everyday, I mean, doing any sort of physical activity. I intentionally make it sound vague.

When I first started ‘working out,’ it consisted of playing unorganized sports with friends. I wasn’t naturally gifted in any sport, but I enjoyed the act of running around with a basketball or a soccer ball.

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Key Principle – Be Active Everyday

Find something you thoroughly enjoy doing and all of the other elements of fitness will fall into place naturally. To stay fit in the long run, you need to see fitness as children do – for fun.

When it starts becoming work, you slowly consume willpower and eventually fall off. You have a limited amount of willpower each day. As we get older, we use up willpower on chores, kids, wives (and husbands), making dinner and taking out the garbage. Often, fitness is the first thing on the chopping block.

When you do something you enjoy, you take willpower out of the equation. Your natural inclination will be to gradually increase your workout. You continue to do it because you want to and enjoy it.

When you’re active everyday, your body feels good about it. Your brain releases endorphins (more on that topic here) and it will become easier to continue. It slowly becomes a daily habit and your natural inclination for variety will drive you to do more stuff over time.

I don’t recommend any sort of workout plan or system for fitness. Why, because what works for me, may (or may not) necessarily work for you. Everyone is different.

No matter how charismatic that exercise guru on your DVD sounds, don’t believe that someone else’s fitness plan will work for you. What you need is a natural and easy way to evolve into a fitness routine that works for your brain and body.

Any fitness routine that depends on willpower, will inevitably fail. Or worse, another part of your life will get affected when you divert willpower to fitness.

Routine

Construct some sort of scheduled routine for daily exercise. Join an organized team; exercise at around the same time everyday, or workout with a partner, friend, or spouse.

This will be the core to constructing a habit. Taking rest days between exercise days breaks up the pattern that creates habits. It becomes too easy to say today is a one of your non-exercise days, and maybe tomorrow too.

No Pain, No Gain

I’ve tried the ‘pushing yourself till you can’t’ system a few times. It has always failed for me (but maybe you’re different). For me, the ‘no pain, no gain’ system takes too much willpower. If I suck up willpower at the gym, I can barely resist binge eating after.

Secondly, this system puts additional stress on my body. My body is sore and debilitated. The soreness is like a penalty for exercising. When I had a penalty every time, it gave me a reason to stop and it was usually along the lines of “I’m too sore to workout today.”

I Don’t Feel Like Working Out

So how do you muster up the energy on those days where you just want to sit on the couch with a bowl of chocolate almonds and sloth out? The system that I found works best is setting a time frame.

On those days, I usually tell myself that in X amount of time, I will get up and go be active. I will allow myself to sloth out a little bit, but as the deadline to activity slowly approaches, I feel my energy begin to rise.

Another method that I have tried is putting on my workout clothes and going to the gym. When I’ve arrived at the gym, I usually do some form of activity because it would be a large waste of time otherwise.

Regardless of how you personally view fitness, the central point is to be deliberately active every single day. Being active is one of the essential maxims for good health – diet, being another maxim. Be active for your spouse and kids. But more importantly, be active for yourself.

Be bold, be free, and love on.