Today I’ve been thinking about developing an everyday muscle. I’ve been 600 days and counting now in this life experiment. So it feels like it’s time to share it with you. So I’ve always wanted to be more consistent. Like, I would call like stone colds just steady. The person who like, skips all of the fussing and excuses, mini-dramas for why I do or don’t do things consistently. And the truth is I’ve always probably found ways to overcome a lack of consistency by just, you know, fits and starts, or like, talent, you know, I could like delay, you know, if it’s a deadline or whatever it may be. In that spirit, I’ve always wanted to be the guy who would just show up, do the work and kind of enough said. Instead, I’ve been the guy in the past with lengthy explanations mostly to myself.
So at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to run a life experiment and it was inspired by two things I wanna tell you about. And that’s my son and his now six years of sobriety and the work of James Clear, he wrote a book called “Atomic Habits”. And then just a third input as well I also had a friend doing this exact same experiment that he had already completed one year. So those trio inputs kind of came together.
James Clear book was really helpful it’s this idea of starting with tiny habits. How do you embed and adopt new habits in your life? Lots of books out there on habits, this one just plain and simply culminated in time and attention and I found it incredibly helpful. Here are a couple of punchlines from his book that I found really incredibly useful in this.
- How do we grow an everyday muscle is become 1% better over time, not 10%, 5%.
- Make the new habit so small you can’t fail. Never miss twice.
- And then root your new habit or practice in an identity statement.
My new habit, my tiny practice, my everyday muscle is about running. I started running one mile a day and it was rooted in I want to be an everyday runner. Inspiration number two, my son had just crossed over five years sober at the time, I believe. My wife had gone through and totaled up the number of days he had not in his community they call it drugging and drinking. He had not drugged and drank for over 2000 days. And I was reflecting on that like, oh my gosh, I couldn’t think of anything I’ve done for 15 days, 200 days, let alone 2000 every single day without fail.
I was even thinking about brushing my teeth. Do I actually brush my teeth every single day? No. There’s some Saturdays and Sundays where I’m home, where I’m like, yeah, I never brushed my teeth today.
So this idea of how might I become more like my son with who has this strength of sobriety in his life around this everyday muscle? And how might I embed that in my life as a person without excuse, but just moves forward with purpose and action and choice to develop this interior strength. So this big idea was what if without fail, I just start a new practice every day. I’ll run one mile a day. And in your case, insert whatever new habit you might consider. And for me, the one mile, the reason it was important was it’s not two, it’s not six, many days I run longer than a mile. But just the every day of get up, move my body, get going, and log it.
I’m 604 days in my practice. And have had that do some modifications here and there. If I’m in the backcountry with a backpack, you know, as long as it’s three miles or longer, I count that. I don’t actually physically have to run, but when they, my family and I were sick a year ago, we all, I made sure I got out, even if it was pathetically short.
We’ve mixed it up with some, what do we call? Our chugging run one evening with some buddies, it was drink a beer run a mile on repeat, just to make it fun. And in the end, what I’ve found is now one mile I’ve become 1% better over time by starting small. I have never missed twice. I have a little habit tracker app.
And there’s a component around accountability That’s really important as well. And then my identity now includes becoming an everyday runner and that I am a runner. I am consistent. Which then also helps feed not only my physical body, but it also is a jumping-off point for other places in my life of like, look, well, I started that new thing. I have that everyday muscle in that way. What if I broke something down so small, you can’t fail. Turn it into never miss twice and adopt a new practice that’s rooted in something I want to become. Someone I want to become.
So friends, developing an everyday muscle, if that’s for you, if you have a curiosity. My wife is some 580 days in on her own experiment of walking every day for 6 minutes. So it doesn’t have to be revolutionary. Yeah, whatever it may be. There’s been lots of people that have adopted these practices. They’re very contagious. Once you start in your respective communities, outlining what you’re up to. You can do this. It’s worth it.