jogger laces shoes, making sprinting a habit

There are bad habits like smoking, and good habits like jogging

After what for me was a great 2017, I’m trying to keep the fires of accomplishment and desire burning in me, and looking at the best ways to keep moving towards the things I want to be doing in 2018. And I think I’ve found them: it’s a balance between building habits and executing sprints.

Allow me to explain.

Making habits a habit

I’ve been smitten with the idea of habits over goals for a while now. A lot of the self-help type reading about productivity and fulfillment that I regularly consume espouses the value of focusing on habits that lead to results, rather than results themselves. This makes a lot of sense, so that’s what I’m looking at. So rather than setting a goal like running marathon, in this fictionalized scenario, I would just set the habit of running 4 times a week, or whatever, and then build towards doing the marathon.

The advantage of habits is that you’re making incremental progress and building in the work necessary for longterm success.

Trying to exercise regularly, and to write more often and build in time to make stuff regular habit, then they don’t require thinking, they just require doing, they become almost automatic, that’s the dream anyway.

Some things I’m working on building into habits: meditation, practicing ukulele and Dutch, exercise, eating good foods.

writing is a good habit

Writing can also be sprinting, which sounds confusing but isn’t

The application of sprinting

But I recently was thinking about the idea of sprints. I work at a tech company (of sorts) and our tech team regularly does ‘sprints’, where specific work is done in a set period of time and then ready for review. And I realized that this is a powerful ally of the habit.

For example, I’ve got my book coming out (yes, TAKE IT EASY is almost finished). In the habit mode I could, once it’s delivered to me, just try and send out a dozen a day until they’re all shipped out to the IndieGoGo backers. But there’s not much to be gained from that method. Instead, if I just buckle down and do it flat-out, I can probably get it done in a day, or realistically, in a weekend.

And that’s the way to go. It’s done and I can clear my mind and desk for the next project.

But the sprint isn’t just for this case, which I think seems like a prime and obvious choice (nobody wants to make a ‘habit’ of going to the post office).

For example, I’ve got other books I want to write, and am in fact, stockpiling content and writing and just making them into discrete folders of primordial ooze. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s perpetual forward progress.

But it’s much more likely that I’ll get the next one done if I spend one week (or two) devoting my spare time to blasting out a first draft. Instead of sprinkling little bits of energy around a bunch of different projects, I just get set on one thing I want to accomplish and go flat out on it. So that’s what I’ll actually be doing (once mailing TAKE IT EASY is done). Picking a project and doing a sprint on it, and seeing how that process works for me. Then refining that process and trying it again.

Alongside, of course, the habits I’m building.