Everyone talks about visions and goals. Each is tremendously important for anyone who wants to move forward towards a goal. But lurking right under our nose, not off in some vision of the future or long list of goals is something else.
Here are some clues to its identity. It is: something that runs on its own, something that once it gets going is hard to stop; something that can serve us well; and something we don’t have to fuss with. Something that, if designed right, will get our creative work done and will make us masters of our craft.
A robot, right?
Sorry, only a habit. But don’t underestimate habits. Habits get us to work, tie our shoes, brush our teeth, keep us safe, feed us, etc, etc, etc. They run a heck of a lot of our lives. You will be shocked to see how much if you take a close look.
Just as we might program a robot to do our bidding, we can train a habit. We do have to hang in there in the beginning but eventually, our robot/habit will be up and running. With one habit in place we will want to create and unleash more. Perhaps one habit is for practicing our craft, another one gets our marketing materials out the door, and another one keeps us plugged into our local creative community. Habits buzzing around as we focus on other things.
Robot Construction in the Privacy of Your Own Home
1. First, give up the notion that the only way to get things done are through the big, the complex, and the difficult. Habits are small, simple, and easy, or at least that is how you should design them. Pick something that you can do most days for 5, 10, or 15 minutes (restrain yourself, don’t pick half-hours, hours, or half-days). Keep the habit time short for right now.
2. Next, tell yourself that you are going to be a loyal teacher of this newly minted habit by teaching it the ropes everyday for three weeks. That’s right, everyday for three weeks. That ‘s the beginning of the process. It is likely you and your pupil will have to keep at it longer, a few months or so until it is solid and very much part of your life.
3. Pick a time of day for working with your habit. If you need a week to test out various times to find the best fit, that’s fine but once you settle on a specific time, stick to it.
4. Also stick to what you want to do with that time. Don’t go switching around; robots can only learn so much (their circuitry is from the 1950s, after all). Keep it simple and direct such as sketch for 10 minutes, write for 10 minutes, try a new piece, etc.
5. Try not to switch locations, either. If you can do your work in the same spot every session, the wiring of this habit will go even faster. Habits like following a steadily deepening groove cut by consistent returning to the: same process, the same time, and the same location.
6. Track on a calendar each day you successfully meet with your habit. If you miss a day, get crackin’ the next day. If you find you can’t do your habit work at the appointed time, do it when you can that day but don’t kid yourself, you were a bit off target for that day. Here is a great online, free habit tracking calendar service (www.rootein.com). It even sends helpful reminder notes when you don’t sign-on and check off that a habit has been completed for the day.
7. Use a timer. Set if for 5, 10, or 15 habit building minutes and put off all other distractions. Go ahead and give yourself license to quit when the time dings. Don’t push your progress. The important thing is to develop a new habit.
8. Repeat, repeat, repeat until it becomes part of your life and you slip into it without much thought. In fact, your day will not feel right with your habit undone.
9. Pick another area of creativity to develop into a habit. Start with steps 1 through 8 and train your habit robot.
Unleash the robots!