I’ve just arrived back in Cambridge from a weekend in Dorset on a ‘wilderness medicine’ expedition. There was a group of 22 of us, we stayed in this really nice cottage, went on long country walks and did a few medical emergency scenarios along the way. Absolutely wonderful weekend, vlog coming soon, and here’s a link to the previous trip’s vlog if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anyway, I was considering skipping this week’s email/blog post because I’m tired and it’s already the evening etc etc but I made a commitment to myself (and to you) to send an email every Sunday and so it will be done.

Just Showing Up

I imagine no one will care about something as trivial as a missed email, but I feel that when it comes to building productive habits, consistency and ‘just showing up’ is really important.

Lets say we’re making a commitment to ourselves that we’ll go to the gym every other day, or that we’ll study for our A-levels every day, or anything like that. We’re definitely going to have days where we can’t be bothered. We’ll make up dubious reasons, telling ourselves that one missed day doesn’t matter and that we’ll work twice as hard the following day to make it up.

This is a trap. Habits are built on consistency. The way I see it, it doesn’t really matter what we do at the gym, as long as we just show up. We can reduce the intensity of our workout, we can even just do a few stretches while watching YouTube videos, but as long as we’ve showed up, that’s what matters.

Let’s apply this to exams - we need to study for an exam, but we’re having one of those days where we cba to do anything. The important thing is to just show up. We should sit down with our books/laptops/iPads and just commit to doing 10 minutes of active recall. Usually, we’ll find that we end up doing far more, because once we’re in the swing of it, we can keep going. But even if we don’t, even if we just do those 10 minutes, that’s infinitely better than nothing.

So when I have those days when I can’t be bothered, I like to reduce the intensity but still show up. With this post, for example - I’ve composed it on my phone while stuck in traffic on the M25 (I’m a passenger don’t worry). It’s by no means a literary masterpiece, but I’ve shown up and written something that I hope will have value to at least one person. That’s a win in my book. Far better to do that than to skip it because ‘it’s not good enough’.

Just my malformed two pennies on that front. If you’d like to learn more about habit formation, the book ‘The Power of Habit’ is an interesting read.

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