Simple rules

People crave simplicity.

Well, I crave simplicity. Maybe you crave complexity. I don’t know.

I do know that simple rules we set for ourselves can help us succeed when we might otherwise fail.

For example, I have tried off and on for the last 5 years to get into a regular exercise routine. I’ve had sporadic success. I’ll get on a streak, be consistent for a week or two, and then… Something happens. I get derailed. I lose motivation. I quit, for one reason or another.

I tried a lot of approaches. Different types of exercise. Different schedule. Different times of day. Exercising alone. Exercising with a friend. Going to a gym. Going to the park. Working out at home. Long workouts. Short workouts. Cardio. Strength training.

None of them stuck. Even the most successful approach I tried didn’t ever become a strong, fixed habit. I was sporadic, at best.

Rebuilding a habit from ground zero, multiple times, is no fun.
The first time or two, you can sail a little bit on the motivation and excitement of “new-habit energy.”

The third and fourth and hundredth times, though, there’s no newness left. It’s just Ugh and Old and Blah and Disheartening and Repetitious and No Fun.

For the last two months, though, I’ve exercised 5 or 6 days a week, every week.

I started on February 1 with one simple rule: exercise every day.

No minimum. No time requirement. No specified method.

I exercised 24 out of 28 days in February.

My exercise log for February

Those four missed days taught me two things as I built my daily exercise habit: 1) As I started exercising regularly, I discovered that I needed a rest day. 2) I learned that we like to keep our weekends spontaneous and open for rest/social/family time, which means that getting in a workout isn’t always feasible.

So I adjusted my simple rule to this: Exercise every weekday.

And it’s worked well for me.

Sometimes I get a workout or long walk in on the weekend, but if I don’t, no worries. I know I’ll be exercising Monday through Friday.

It’s one simple rule to remember.

Simple rules are a way to help yourself say no to what threatens or weakens you and say yes to what strengthens you or progresses you or helps you.

Complicated systems or sets of rules trigger resistance in us. Forming a new habit is difficult, anyway. Don’t add a hurdle of complexity to it. You don’t need to.

You can always build up to a more complex system or approach. That’s the tweaking phase, the playing and perfecting phase. Xesturgy. Polishing the stones.

But to polish the stones, first you need to get them in place.

Get them in place with simple rules. More about how right here.