Habits Humans

Humans = Habit-based Programs (Part 2/3)

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

– Albert Einstein

Introduction, again

This is the second part of Humans = Habit-based Programs post. Should you stumble to this part first, I advise you to read the previous posts before continue:

Done spending at least 20-30 minutes of reading those posts? Good.

One of the motivation of a living human being is to be more comfortable and less effort in doing whatever we do. The problem is, there are too many paths of comfort.

Why is that a problem? Isn’t it nice there are many choices of being comfortable? Because many of the choices are illusions. They give an illusion of comfort in a short term, but might destroy us if we fail to break the illusion.

Very common examples are drugs, booze, and sex. It’s nice when you are young. But you can’t keep doing it for years. It’s OK if you keep it in control (not drugs though, it’s illegal), but can you? It might already be a difficult habit to get rid of. Be aware that it is a habit too.

I’m very sure when you find and interested to read this post (and the previous posts) somehow, unless I send it to you and force to read, you want to change something within you. Or maybe, find something worthwhile to read and share about. Whatever, as long as it’s interesting. Let me know anyway.

But you don’t know how to do it, and it feels hard, so very hard. That’s very human. There is nothing wrong with that. But you have this desire.You know you must do something. There is a nagging feeling something is not right.

At this point I feel like I’m a motivation guru, but I’m not. And it seems I would continue and say something like “You can do it!”, “You are special!”, “You are strong!”. It’s meaningless. So I don’t do that, no worries. Since this is a rant post, which does not like a rant, I give you a bit of rant but on this paragraph. OK, let’s get back to topic.

The point is, you desire to change your bad invisible habits to good productive habits. That’s good. It’s already the first step that you are aware of yourself.

Which is why, on this second part I would like to share about the rules of programming a new habit.

How to Program a New Habit (the good ones)

As I had said in the first part of the post, we also can create a new habit unknowingly, and would suck on our soul until we realise we can’t do it anymore, make our lives go downward spiral. And after that, what is left are regret and despair.

Programming a good habit is a conscious effort. You know you want to do it. You feel you have to do it. And it is very possible to do it. Though, it won’t be easy.

Be Aware of Yourself

I had stated this for quite many times, even on the previous posts if you notice. It’s the very important first step. You can’t do something without knowing the goal.

Start by asking and listening to yourself. Learn to meditate a bit. Or, maybe just lay on your bed but don’t fall asleep though. Check on your daily activities, every single one of them, better in detail.

Ask yourself, “Why do I have to do this?”, “Does this activity right for me?”, “If not, what do I really want to do?”, “Does what I want to do is good for me?”

Find the why, it’s the very first thing. Like the popular saying, “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” The will’s power comes from your why. When you have a strong why, the way (how) is much easier to find. There are many roads to Rome, but why do you want to go to Rome?

Keep in mind that these processes are meant to be done for a while. It might take days, weeks, or even months. It depends on the person. Do it every day.

If you have a bit of enlightenment, and feels like it’s good for you, then try it. It might not be the answer, but it is a progress. When you don’t know where to go, anywhere you go will lead you to your destination. So, do it.

Random comment from myself: It’s interesting to see that to create a habit, you have to create a habit to be aware as the first step. And all the rules here can also be applied to create a self-awareness habit. I got my mind blown when I’m writing this! Habitsception!

Start Small, Very Small

So very small that it is very possible to do it every day, even though you are slightly sick or very busy, or exiled in an uninhibited island. Exceptions are only for the apocalypse.

So very small that you don’t need to think about how much of your mental power should be spent, or remove some other activities you usually do, because it’s so really very easy to do it.

Why very small? Surely, it will take very long to get the results we want. Yes, it is. Habit is not like instant cup noodle. Even instant cup noodles are not that instant, you need pour hot water and wait at least 3 minutes to eat. It’s called process.

Let’s say there’s a girl called Clara who wanted to get a hot, sexy body. Or getting stronger. Clara found out that she needs to start exercise by running. She targeted 10 kilometers a day. It was a good target, because having a target is good.

But, she felt she must spend a tremendous a lot of effort to run 10 kilometers a day. She knew she can do it, but she wouldn’t be able to do it consistently. So 10 km was not a good target, because it was quite impossible for her to do it.

So, Clara readjusted her target. She decided that 10 km were too much for her right then, as she was not used to running yet. What about 5 km? Still can’t? 3 km? Maybe can, but still painful. Ok then, 1 km for now? She had a deal with herself. 1 km a day it is. Should be easy.

And she started running. First day. After like 15 minutes, she felt tired. But she achieved her 1 km. Done for the day. Good job for starting, Clara! Strangely, she felt unusually tired for the rest of the day. At night, she slept like a log. Little did she know that something is lurking inside her own body.

Second day, the soreness already creeped in Clara’s body. She felt the pain and she became unable to walk normally, because of the running the day before. She felt she cannot run on the second day. You know this kind of pain, readers. Even 1 km was not small enough for her.

This is what you get for not starting smaller, Clara. The soreness, the pain. That’s because she did not read this section. But, she remembered there was a section about starting small. She read it. She reread her own soreness and pain story. She repented.

And then, Clara had a new mindset. It’s about getting used to start running consistently every day. Don’t mind the distance. “100 m is should be small enough to start”, she thought.

So, the next day she only ran 100m. She had the stamina for the rest of the day. At night, she still slept like a log, but did not feel sore. The next day, she woke up and ran again. And again. And again. She felt accomplished after she did the run. On day 15, the first thing she had on her mind was: “I have to run”.

And thus, Clara was able to have the strength to run every day.

It does not matter how much you can accomplish when you just get started. Because the true reward is when you have the will to do it, without exerting much effort to have the will to do it.

Be Consistent

This is the big point: Being consistent. No miss. You do it in every set time you commit.

Which is why starting small and being consistent is very related. It’s about the management of energy. For instance, if you know a little about running, this is the world record best for some categories:

DistanceTimeWho did this?
100m9.58 secUsain BOLT
200m19.19 secUsain BOLT
400m43.03 secWayde VAN NIEKERK
800m1 min 40.91 secDavid RUDISHA
1000m2 min 11.96 secNoah NGENY
1500m3 min 26 secHicham EL GUERROUJ
2000m4 min 44.79 secHicham EL GUERROUJ
3000m7 min 20.67 secDaniel KOMEN
5000m12 min 37.35 secKenenisa BEKELE
10000m26 min 17.53 secKenenisa BEKELE
20000m56 min 26 secHaile GEBRSELASSIE
Half-Marathon (21.1km)58 min 01 secGeoffrey KAMWOROR
25000m1 hr 12 min 25.4 secMoses MOSOP
30000m1 hr 26 min 47.4 secMoses MOSOP
Marathon (42.2km)2 hr 01 min 39 secEliud KIPCHOGE
100km6 hr 09 min 14 secNao KAZAMI
Source: IAAF

Yet another random comment from me: I’m surprised that 100km race exists. Crazy. What’s even crazier is there are actual people competing in it. Great respect for this guys! I don’t think they need cars to travel anywhere. They can just run. No worries about traffic jam. Maybe if they encounter a traffic jam, they would just get out of the car and run. Faster that way.

Let’s do some math. The fastest time recorded in 100m sprint is 9.58 seconds, by Usain Bolt. And the fastest time recorded in 100km, which is 100,000m, run is 6 hours 9 minutes and 14 seconds, which is 22,154 seconds, by Nao Kazami.

If Usain Bolt could run 100,000m in his pace when running 100m sprint, he would finish in 9,580 seconds, which is 2 hours 39 minutes 20 seconds. He would beat Nao Kazami’s record. Hell, he would beat everyone’s record, making all the names Usain Bolt.

Why is that? Why not all Usain Bolt?

Let’s also calculate the average pace for some of the records.
Average pace of the fastest 100m sprint is 10.438 m/s, or 37.57 km/h.
Average pace of the fastest 1000m sprint is 7.578 m/s, or 27.28 km/h.
Average pace of the fastest 10km sprint is 6.339 m/s, or 22.82 km/h.
Average pace of the fastest 100km run is 4.51 m/s, or 16.3 km/h.

You see, the longer the distance is, the slower the pace is. Because it needs consistency. And running 16.3 km per hour was the best that Nao Kazami can do. And he ran the distance for about six hours. Can Usain Bolt do that, for six hours? I don’t know, ask him. My thought is, if he could, and he competed, it would be his name on the list.

So, you cannot make habits in Usain Bolt’s speed. You need to be in Nao Kazami’s speed. Because it would take you 100,000m instead of 100m. That’s 1,000x times more.

Time does not matter. The distance is.

But, if you have a deadline in your work, time matters most. Just don’t make a habit of putting things until near your deadline. It’s called procrastination.

No Excuses

Excuse is the most insidious thing in our brain. It is the enemy of the good-willed progress we want. It waits behind in the shadows and would never show up. What it does is just whispering to you. To make you stay in your comfort zone. A freakin’ coward.

I imagine that if excuse has a personification, then Grima Wormtongue from Lord of The Rings is the character. Perfectly portrayed in the movies. Great actor. I hate him (the character) so much. What he did was whispering and misleading the King of Rohan, even though he is the Chief Advisor of the Kingdom.

The King became so corrupted he couldn’t do anything and only listened to what Grima said to him. Fortunately, Gandalf helped the King and banished Grima out from the Kingdom. What of Grima’s fate? Bad guys died of course. Watch it if you have not, it’s a great movie. Movies, because it’s a trilogy.

It is the strongest when we are just starting something new. A classic example is this: John tried to make a habit of exercise by running every morning. He was already consistent without skipping a day for almost two weeks. One morning, a rain fell. John thought, “Ah, it’s raining this morning, a good day to sleep. Cannot run anyway, the road’s wet. I don’t like being wet.”

So, he skipped a day. Unfortunately, the next day and then for a week, because it keeps raining every morning. John didn’t run for a week. to him, the excuse was rain. Excuse had won against him. And the excuse of not running because of rain becomes a habit. What John wanted to do, he didn’t do it anymore.

The rain was not the excuse. Rather, the excuse hid behind the rain, to make John feel comfortable because he could sleep more. He made listening to excuse as his habit. You see how dangerous excuses are?

John, if you read this, even though you are made up anyway, know that you could also run at other times like noon or night, or wearing a raincoat if you are not afraid of lightning. Or maybe, find an alternative such as running up or down the stairs, it could make your legs stronger.

Excuses are weak to the things we can do with less effort. Their whispers are much more silent, barely noticeable. You can even say they cannot say anything at that point, because there’s no reason to.

Be aware of excuses, and silence them by starting small. Make the excuse cannot make excuses because it ran out of things to say.

Make Triggers as Reminder

A trigger is something that will remind you that you have to do your habit. It could be a thing, many things, or not even a thing. It is powerful because it makes you at least remember you have to do it.

It’s like an alarm clock, you wake up when triggered by the noisiness of the alarm. You know it’s time to wake up and start your day. Just don’t snooze it though.

I’m going to use myself as an example. At this time of writing, I’m working on three habits. The first is calisthenics / bodyweight workout, the second is reading a book, and the third is writing a content for my blog.

For the first one, it has become a rather strong habit of mine, though I tend to overdo it a little every day. Progression, they say, to get stronger. My trigger is turning on the audio, then play a high-beat workout playlist. The body then knows that it’s workout time. Then I would start the warming up program.

Next, the trigger for reading a book is, put a book I want to read in random noticeable position in my room. I would make sure the position is so awkward that I would always notice it when I got back to my room. I would see it and get reminded: “Oh yeah, I haven’t finished that book yet.” Then I would read at least a page. But, if it’s a very interesting book, I can binge it.

For the habit of continuing to write every day, because it’s a very new habit, it’s still unstable. So, I make sure that every time I wake my laptop from sleep, what shows up in the monitor first is the draft of the post I’m working on.

Though, just reminding is not enough. Don’t snooze the alarm clock. Be careful on getting used of the triggers you could possibly ignore in time. To prevent this, it is recommended that you do a bit of progress when triggered. Make a habit to do the activity, however small it is, when you got yourself triggered.

Enjoy The Small Victories

By starting small, you might think that you will not accomplish much for your habit. You’re right. Outwardly, it won’t. But, you are also one step closer to make your habit stick.

It does not matter how big of a step you do. What matters is that you make a step forward. Rejoice! Be proud of yourself! Be happy that it is also the day that you win, against yourself, and you know you are getting better.

Just don’t binge too much ice-cream as a reward, though. You’ll get fat.

Someday, when you look back, probably 3-4 months has passed. You will say to yourself, “I’ve been doing that for 3-4 months?”. Time will pass quickly when you enjoy it.

Second Part Conclusion

All of these rules are intertwined with each other. The first three are the most important. The next two will follow if you are getting good enough with the first three. And the last one matters to your happiness by enjoying the process patiently, as a motivation to keep going forward.

This topic is much longer than I thought. I can’t control myself when typing! The words just keep flowing from my fingers, damn it!

Every day, I would just trick my brain by saying: “Just type a little, just a subtopic would be enough, you will also progress.” And I always do so, even I don’t really feel like it. But when I finally start typing, I won’t realise that I have already written for more than two hours!

I might not sleep if I do it too much for a day. And might not continue for the next day because I might feel I accomplished so much the day before. I would feel entitled to rest. This is a trap. The habit is not fully developed yet. I can feel it.

I need to create the habit of not exerting too much, and focus on slower but more consistent pace. Good thing I already have. These three important rules: being aware, start small, and be consistent. They are the most important rules for me, where my weakness lies in my entire life. And I will always work at it. Wish me luck.

Let me know what you think about this. I hope these posts can be a help to you.

See you on the next post of the series!

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”

– Roy T. Bennett

By Ericko Yap

Just a guy who is obsessed to improve himself. Working as a programmer in a digital banking company. Currently programming himself in calisthenics, reading books, and maintaining a blog.

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