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An Exercise in Willpower: Level 2 Update

April 20, 2010

Last Monday, I posted about Level 2 of my current project in willpower.

Level 1 started with getting up at 7 am every morning, and with Level 2, going to bed at 11 pm, so that getting up at 7 am wasn’t completely unreasonable.

I’ve been working on Level 2 for seven days today, starting last Monday and skipping the weekends. I decided early on in this project that the weekends weren’t going to count, because I often meet friends or catch a movie, which keeps me out back midnight. I do still try to get up at 8 am, in order to not completely screw up my schedule.

How’s it going?

It’s going really well. Last night, because my brain was tired and I really needed a break, I stayed up a little past my “bed time” and watched Bolt, which was just the kind of decompression I needed, but it meant I didn’t get to bed until midnight or a little after. Therefore, this morning, I woke up at 7:15 am instead of 7:00 am.

I’m not too worried about it though. No plan is ever executed without a few bumps and snags, and this one is no different. For the most part, the whole exercise has been a rousing success. I’ve been getting enough sleep on a regular basis, I’ve been getting things accomplished, and I feel great.

What’s next?

Having successfully completed Levels 1 and 2 as I’ve set them out for myself, Level 3 is next.

Level 3 is going to start Monday, 4/26, and the new plan is going to look like this:

  • Go to bed every night at 11 pm
  • Wake up every morning at 7 am
  • Stretch for five minutes
  • Do Pilates for 15 minutes
  • Eat breakfast and get work done on my projects until 9:30 am
  • Start working at 10 am

My favorite personal finance blogger, Trent Hamm, wrote just the other day about the wisdom of incremental change. He writes:

One step forward is better than “five steps forward, four steps back.” On the surface, the accomplishment is the same, but underneath it, the “five steps forward, four steps back” approach leaves you worn out mentally and physically and reduces your ability to really trust yourself.

Most of the change I’ve implemented in my life (or at least tried to implement) has been of the “five steps forward, four steps back” variety. As Trent points out, this is less useful because it leaves you worn out and diminishes your trust in yourself. I’ve always sort of known that it was better to do incremental change, but now I have proof.

I have been very pleased with my progress thus far, and I am looking forward to getting back into a regular exercise routine by incrementally stepping up how much I do in the mornings every few weeks. I’m not sure yet what Level 4 will look like, or how soon I’ll implement it, but making progress is always exciting.

Inadvertant side bonus of this whole project: I now spell ‘exercise’ right on the first try, without having to think about it too hard. I used to think it should be spelled ‘excersice’ or ‘excercise’ or something with an X and a C in the front. Which is wrong. Obviously. Hooray for correcting my own spelling!

Check out these related posts:

An Exercise in Willpower: Day 1
An Exercise in Willpower: Level 2
My Current Projects page

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