One key component of my work as a professional organiser is to support my clients to established new organising habits. Nonetheless, starting a good habit (or stopping a bad one) can be challenging. In 2021 I have decided to start a new habit of running. Running is a form of exercise that I haven’t done much of in the past, so it will be challenging.
The good news.
Several techniques are being implemented to help me establish my running habit. Many of these techniques I adopt in my work as a professional organiser. So if you are looking at getting organised in 2021 or have a new goal or habit you would like to work on then keep reading. Before we get into some of these techniques, let me create a picture of my current view on running.
I hate it!
That’s not all.
Running has never been a form of exercise that I have enjoyed, and I’ve never been good at it. At school, I was the slowest runner in my year level (possible even the whole school). Fortunately, I had friends that felt sorry for me and would always give me a head start on any activity that involved running.
To make a point.
I would rather wait 20 minutes for a train than run to catch an approaching one. I would often warn people, that if they ever saw me running in the street, they should also run, as it’s probably due to me being chased by Godzilla or some other hideous monster.
I’ve now painted a clear picture that running is not my thing.
I know what you must be thinking.
Why am I doing this?
I value my health and am always looking at new ways of improving my health through exercise. Currently, when it comes to exercise, I’ve always enjoyed resistance training over cardio. So I’m giving myself the challenge to start running and improve my health through cardio exercise.
I want to put myself in my client shoes. For many of my clients, organisation/ disorganisation has been an ongoing challenge for them. And when I’m working with clients, they are bravely stepping outside their comfort zones to get organised. Doing something new can be challenging, daunting and scary. Many of my clients advise that they feel a little anxious about starting our organising work. But once the work is done, they feel a sense of accomplishment.
So while organising has always been my thing running hasn’t. Therefore, I have decided to step out of my comfort zone, into my client’s shoes and do something that I will find challenging, daunting, scary and anxiety-provoking – running. Like getting organised, running will require hard work, challenges, discomfort and doing things that I may not have done before. But it’s something I need to do if I’m going to make some positive changes to my health. The key to me establishing my running habit lies in the below techniques.
Like organising, running is also a skill that can be taught. Many of my clients have never been taught how to organise, like them, I’ve never been taught how to run. Fortunately, a friend and personal trainer has kindly agreed to train me and some other friends to run 10km by the end of March. I’m most likely going to establish my running habit with the support of someone who knows about running and fitness.
As mentioned, a few of my friends have agreed to take part in this running challenge. This means I have a responsibility to them to rock up for our running sessions each week.
I’m currently reading Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick by Wendy Wood. In her book, Wood’s talks about the components of establishing habits. One of these components is repetition. Wood’s finding suggests that people can overtime transform a task into habit through ongoing repetition of it. Repetition is something that I have done to establish positive habits in the past, which may help create my running habit. My friends and I will have three running sessions each week, which will start at the same place and time.
4. Less Decision Making
Another factor that Wood’s mentions in her book is that it’s easier to establish a habit when we don’t have to think about it. Having three weekly running sessions scheduled in advance eliminates decision making. I don’t have to think about when and where I have to run. The decision has been made for me; I know that I have to run three times a week at this time and location.
The concept of organising a whole house or running 10km can be overwhelming. When I work with clients, I like to break the organising task down into small tasks, for example, complete one file, one drawer etc. The same approach is being taken with running. To start with, my friend is breaking down our running into small stages, where my first run may only be 250 meters or less, and gradually over time, we will increase the distance. We are going at a pace that is challenging for me but still comfortable.
As discussed in Wood’s book, another component to habit formation is to have an instant reward. My instant reward for running is doing it, along with my friends. Hence, I’m able to catch up and see my friends while also running with them.
7. Mindset of Progress, Not Perfection
One of the concepts I encourage my clients to adopt when working on an organising project is to focus on progress, not perfection.
Because when you focus on establishing a perfect system, you will never start, as the idea of perfect becomes overwhelming and you will stop. So I need to adopt this mindset with running. My running perspective is not to be the best runner or the fastest runner; instead, I’m focusing on being a better runner than I was yesterday. While we have a goal of running 10km, my mindset is that I don’t need to be fastest or the best, I just need to progress toward it.
So here are some of the principles I’m applying to establish a new habit for running. These principles may also support you in achieving your organising goals or any other goals you may have.
I’m a little nervous about this challenge, but at the same time, I know that positive change can only come from doing something different and stepping outside of my comfort zone, which is something I ask my clients to do when I work with them. While I’m nervous I’m also excited about seeing what this running experiment will have on my life, will I become fitter, lose weight or even fall deeply in love with running – time will tell. Now, if you see me running outside, please don’t be alarmed chances are Godzilla isn’t chasing me; instead, I’m working on my running habit.
Is there a new habit you would like to establish in 2021, let me know in the comments?
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