This morning my five year old was trying to get the tap water to come out warm. He kept fiddling with the hot valve to try to get it just right. This was a time consuming process. A simpler solution of course is to use the cold valve (which I explained to him).
Often when we are solving a problem we concentrate exclusively on one tactic- missing a parallel tactic. Here’s three examples where looking at alternative solutions can speed up success:
Most people think about exercise when it comes time to stay fit. How about just eating less, a little less at a time.
There are two ways to balance your out of wach budget: spend less and make more. Most people only look to one or the other- they should use both.
There are two ways to achieve career advancement: promotions within or moving to a new company. Most people pick one tactic or the other. Some people always look to move on. “They just don’t appreciate me here” they say. But the pattern repeats itself at each job they take. They should consider trying to make their current company appreciate them and realize what their contribution is. Sometimes just asking for a promotion is enough to get the ball rolling. Try to get concrete steps on what the criteria for the promotion is.
Then there are others who just stay at a company for a long time waiting for their promotion. They have been promised a promotion or were told “soon’ but the promotion never comes. This may be because the company doesn’t adequately value your contribution and perhaps never will. It may be time to look externally. Start feeling around for a new job.
In any task your doing, think about other approaches. That may give you an easier way to acheive your goal.
What are your challenges?
photo credit: Dan4th
The best way to expand habits is to build on an existing habit and make it part of the habit.
Here’s my recent use of this technique: I always forget to water the lawn (and when I remember I sometimes forget to turn it off) as a result the grass in the little patch in front of my house turned brown. On the other hand each morning I go running- it’s a habit that I instilled by having my alarm going on early. So now I just turn on the sprinkler (a hose with a plastic oscillating extension) when I start my run. When I take my son out to wait for the bus an hour later he or I turn it off (it’s either that or walking through a shower- so we’re forced to do it).
What habit are you building?
“I hate going to the gym”, “I hate running”, “Exercise is so boring”. The more I speak to people who exercise the more negative responses I get. So let me get this straight people intentionally spend 30 minutes, 60 minutes or more daily torturing themselves. Isn’t there a better way?
Actually there are three better ways:
1. Find fun ways to exercise. If you enjoy playing basketball, then basketball isn’t exercise it’s fun time. Simple enough.
2. Replace exercise time with other productive physical activities. See: How Avoiding Exercise Can Make You Fit and Productive
3. Don’t be Lazy. During the day there are plenty of opportunities to be active- embrace them. Read: Exercise is for Lazy People
How do you stay fit without exercise?
Do you ever wonder why people of the 17th century didn’t need to waste their time exercising? It’s because they exercised in their everyday tasks. Nowadays we’ve become too lazy- so we need to set aside time to exercise instead. In other words we’ve become too lazy to be active, so instead we torture ourselves with exercise. The solution of course is to stop being lazy and get our exercize in small bursts throughout the day.
Here’s some examples of how you can stop being lazy in everyday tasks and eliminate the need for exercise:
- When you drive don’t waste time looking for a parking spot closest to your destination. Just park at the first decent spot and use the time you saved to walk to your destination.
- Take the stairs
- Walk (don’t drive) to your neighborhood grocery store or anywhere else in your neighborhood. (have you seen the prices of gas lately?!?)
- Volunteer to go to the next room (or upstairs) to help someone in your family or a coworker retrieve something. (you’re so nice)
- If you’re going to have a long discussion with your friend/significant other get up and walk around the neighborhood. (The change in scenery can make stressful discussions more calm.)
If you stop being lazy you’ll discover an interesting phenomenon- you’re a lot more productive.
There’s plenty of opportunities to stop being lazy- don’t be lazy too look for them.
What other everyday opportunities do you see to exercise?
photo credit: Ian Bloomfield
Many people find doing exercise is boring and annoying. I know I do. The key is to find activities that you enjoy that will give you exercise. Unfortunately that isn’t always possible.
That’s where having a routine comes in. Sometimes we do things just because we are conditioned to. That’s why habits are so important: Do you really feel like taking a stick with bristles and putting it over your teeth. Of course not. We brush our teeth because it’s a simple habit and the consequences of not doing it is a visit to the dreaded dentist’s office.
Similarly try to create a habit to exercise. Try to make it as fun as possible. But there will still be days you just don’t want to do it. That’s perfect, we can take advantage of this. Here’s how I did it.
Each morning my alarm goes on at 6:00am and it’s time to exercise. One morning I didn’t feel like running. But part of my morning ritual is to get up early and I had running time. So instead I procrastinated and decided to reorganize the garage. I got the exercise i needed and felt really good after it was done- all the boxes that were cluttering the den (we’re in middle of a move) are now gone. The garage with it’s haphazard organization (e.g big mess) now has a system to it.
Exercise is about getting yourself moving. You should try to get some satisfaction out of it- even if it’s a clean garage. Look for other strenuous tasks you need to do, put it on your to do list and the next time you don’t feel like exercising, just procrastinate.