Updated: Dec 17, 2022
I’ve decided to make a concerted, long-term effort to majorly improve my daily habits and health practices.
why habits matter
All we really have is our habits and behaviors. What you do each day is what makes your life what it is. Although it can be difficult, ultimately we do control our own behaviors and actions. Creating a foundation of health allows us to have the inner resources to live better lives and contribute more to others.
After 9 years starting a company, I'm entering a new phase in life. So I am building a new foundation of daily habits to put me in the right frame of mind and give me fresh energy.
benefits I'm seeking
For the past ten years, I’ve slept like crap.
The science shows that good sleep is one of the best things for overall health.
I took a course on sleep improvement, and there is no magic bullet. To get better sleep, I need to change 5-10 different habits, from evening lighting to nutrition to schedules.
I have compressed discs in my lumbar spine, and have pain levels in the 5-7 out of 10 range most days. I have been dealing with this since 2008. I’ve done a wide variety of modalities and treatments. Stretches and targeted exercises are the most helpful. They need to be done every day.
Mindfulness + Focus
When I take care of myself, I feel like a million bucks. I perform better, my emotions are uplifted, and I have cleaner energy and stronger motivation. I'm less distractible and stay on task. I'm more willing to do hard work and I procrastinate less.
What I’m Already Doing
I have to give myself some credit. I’ve been making steady progress toward healthy habits for years compared to the deep degenerate years of my youth.
My baseline as of November 2022
10 minutes of yoga / stretching / light exercises pretty much every day
Generally fit and exercise a few times a week
I surf: nature time, mindfulness, exercise, and cold exposure
Low lights in the evening
Generally eat fairly healthy, don't drink too much
What the actual f@(k
Why is it so hard to stick to healthy habits? Even when I know what foods, exercises, and actions to take to feel good, why do I still choose to eat crap, watch TV or doom-scroll on my phone?
A major part of this project will be a deep-dive into the psychology of behavior change, the science of the tactics I'm taking, and a subjective account of my trials and tribulations toward a better life.
What I’ve started doing
Using a habit tracking app to measure what I do (since Nov. 27 '22)
Wearing a fitbit to track my sleep and exercise
Started reading BJ Fogg's Tiny Habits
my first habit stack
I've been (trying to) do the following set of habits every day (with the exception of bodyweight exercises- that's 45 min a week)
3 week Progress Report:
I took on too many habits at once
Yoga has been my strongest habit, but I usually only do it once a day rather than twice
Drinking water is really easy and actually makes a huge difference to mental state
Reading "Tiny Habits" I realize that I need to put more design into the cues that prompt these behaviors.
Morning sun exposure has been easy the past week because I'm surfing in Nicaragua
I frequently do smaller increments of reading, writing, and bodyweight but don't track it because it doesn't reach the threshold of how I've defined a unit
Learnings & Next Steps
I have a hunch that drinking water can both be a habit and a prompt; using my 16oz water bottle as a physical reminder that brings me back to a place of agency and choice: "ok, I just drank water. Resetting. What am I going to do now?
Lowering the units for reading, writing, bodyweight and meditation would be smart (and this is confirmed by Fogg's book) That way, I can start feeling like I'm winning and making progress, rather than not measuring the smaller progress that I am making at all.
These habits are all defined abstractly and are floating outside of time. I need to more rigorously define them, build context around them, and get clear about the Prompt, Ability and Motivation for each habit.