It’s been seven years that I am trying my hands-on writing. I started it in 2012, then off I went, then I restarted it in 2016 with a lull two-year period and now I am back it at again. I am trying to find a reason on why my favorite activity keeps on falling off my plate. Don’t I feel for it? Is it not an enjoyable activity for me? What do I plan to gain out of it? Do I have a long-term goal associated with it? However there is an underlying truth in it; If I keep on coming back to this activity year after year and rediscover something new every time, then definitely it’s time to sit and reflect on, the plan which I need to implement to make it a regular habit.
This drove my attention to SMART methodology which I practice regularly in my professional life. I am expected to define SMART goals for myself and for my team. The thought struck me that this can be practiced creating SMART habits as well. Why can’t a practice which drives results in a professional world can be adopted in personal life. For people like me, who keep on falling the same shit, SMART methodology for habits can be tried to conquer our own lethargy and shut the mind chatter.
We are, what our habits are and what we accomplish in this mortal world is also a result of what kind of habits we have.
Let’s have a look at SMART approach and how I plan to use it for my advantage.
Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
I have a favorite getting up early analogy. If you are getting up at 8 am every day and now you are aiming to get up at 4am, I would not term this as sensible and it’s not simple. Ideal will be instead of 8.00 am, now I plan to get up at 7.30 am. Another perfect example will be on writing. If for the past one year, I have not written a single post, and because of my renewed attention, I am saying, I will pen a novel in one year, I would tell myself ”take a walk” .The point which I want to emphasize is the way I cannot eat the entire dish in one go and to finish it I need to divide it in multiple morsels of small bite size, so I need to start small with my habits as well. Lofty goals only look good on the paper and might provide me a high occasionally, so I need to start small and there is no shame in starting small. e.g. one blog post in a month or one chapter in twelve weeks. Makes sense?
Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
So now I am getting up early, what does it mean? What do I plan to achieve by it? Have I prepared a task for myself or else I plan to stare at the blank walls and then my mind will nudge me to go back to the cozy comfort of my bed? A better conversation which I need to have with myself will be: Wow I will get an early start by 30 min in my day. I already have a list of tasks which I plan to do when my alarm rings 30 min early. Talking about writing, do I intend to write one post of minimum 500 words every day when I am getting up early? Am I planning to prepare a content repository for my website?
Achievable (agreed, attainable)
Will I be able to have a 30 min early morning start? If I am sleeping every day late, then of course my getting up early plan will go down the drain. To achieve my morning routine, I need to ensure that my evenings and night are in my control and I am planning well in advance. If getting up early is leaving me drained out and my body ask of required number of sleep hours is not achieved, then this goal is not achievable, and I have not made an agreement with my scheduled to attain it. On writing as well same logic goes, churning out one blog post every day might work one day but it’s not sustainable when I have a day job and a family to take care of. I need to sync it with my daily routine and make a conscious effort to push myself from my comfort zone without losing sense of reality.
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based)
Am I being reasonable with myself when I am asking myself to set up a habit of getting up early? Will it make more sense If I am saying that I should target for x number of sleep hours? Is my getting up habit relevant with my bigger plan? What’s my trend when I started getting up early? After how many days did, I forsake this habit and what were the reasons which prompted me to leave it? If I remove these reasons this time, Will I be able to stick to the plan? Am I writing because I have a creative flair, or I want to write because I want my unpublished stories to see sunlight? Did my hectic routine hijack my writing plan? Is my writing scattered and then because it becomes so difficult to accumulate all the words, I took a break from writing twice? Am I not reading enough? A thorough research analysis will pave the way for a more realistic plan.
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
I would get up 30 min early for 6 months and then I will increase it by 5 min and aim to get up 35 min early for the next four weeks and so on till it becomes a part of my DNA. I will write daily for 15 min for eight weeks and then will increase it by 30 minutes for the next four weeks and so on. A warm-up exercise is always needed before the final grill happens. Our body and mind are a machine and if its too nonfunctional with too much of rust then oiling needs to happen before the machine is brought back on the floor. I believe that drafting this methodology will prove its benefits and I will finish my meal with the help of small morsels and not gulp it.