BRUSHING YOUR TEETH
You wake up, you do your thing, you eat your breakfast, and just before leaving the house for the day, you brush your teeth. In the evening, just before tucking yourself in, you brush again.
It is a part of you. You often don’t even consciously think about it. A bit like driving to the supermarket. Sometimes you just find yourself there. How did that happen!? It’s like you were on autopilot.
There is no magic taking place here as to why we unconsciously brush our teeth and drive to the shop. We’ve just done it consistently enough over a long enough period of time that they have become a couple of ingrained habits.
You can achieve this level of autopilot with any behaviour. Yes, some desired behaviours may be a little more challenging to instil than others. Going for a run every day has plenty more objections than brushing teeth… the weather, the effort, the discomfort, the time required. There are a few more obstacles present than just running out of toothpaste (and even when we run out we still manage to engineer clever methods to draw every last drop of paste from the tube).
But completing the action of getting up at 6am and going for a run every day on a long and consistent enough timeline will eventually turn you into the kind of person who gets up and runs every day. You will become a ‘runner’!
When we have desirable goals or behaviours that are road blocked with undesirable obstacles, we don’t just give up when we hit them. We find ways to remove or reduce them.
We make the desirable actions more desirable and easier to attain, and we make the obstacles easier to overcome, or we remove them completely. If we don’t do these things, then good luck on your “mission” to become a runner. It’s not that you’re ‘just not a runner’. Anyone can be a runner. Anyone. You just didn’t put in the effort needed to make your goal easier to achieve. That, or you never actually wanted to become a runner.
Just like toothpaste companies use mint flavour to make their paste taste better and our mouths feel fresher, we need to do the same with our goal. If toothpaste was dirty brown/green, gritty in texture and tasted like cough medicine, I can bet you that 90+% of people wouldn’t brush their teeth everyday, even with full knowledge of the benefits of tooth brushing.
For rainy days, we can get ourselves a jacket.
For cold days, we can wear layers and a beanie.
For the lack of time to run, we can set out more practical times, shuffle our schedules or remove wasted activities, efforts or behaviours.
For the CBF’s, we can pack our running gear in our work bag, lay it out right beside our bed, or, we can even sleep in it! Hell, you can even get yourself some elastic shoelaces if tying up your shoes is an obstacle to going for a run!
For the early morning wake up, we can set 3 backup alarms, increasingly more annoying in tune. One of those alarms can be set up in the kitchen, ordering you to get out of bed in order to turn it off. We can even set a bedtime alarm to ensure enough sleep has been reached prior to the run.
For accountability, we can enlist a friend to join us or we can use a whiteboard to tick off every planned and completed run.
For the demotivating uncertainty of progress, we can do time trials, progressively overload our distances, or take body photos (if you are running for the purpose of fat loss).
Every obstacle has a solution or a method for reduction. Beyond that it is on you and your desire to achieve your goal. If you want it enough, you will do it. You will find solutions and you will run. If you hate smelly breath and hate dentist visits even more, you will brush your teeth.
There is no telling how long it takes to instil a habit. But it shouldn’t matter. You are now completing the desired behaviours consistently and it is helping you move towards becoming a better, more desired you. Isn’t that what you wanted!?
Don’t worry about the ending, you’re doing it! You are better than yesterday, yesterday better than the day before, the day before better than the day before that.
Hang on. Without even realising it, you’ve been doing it nearly a month, 3 months, a bloody year now! And hey… some of those early runs were actually fairly auto piloted. Fuck me! It is becoming a habit!