Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Thoughts on Self Improvement Part 2: Making it Stick then Upping the Tempo

Awhile back I talked about self improvement in a boringly titled post called Thoughts on Self Improvement. As I progress through some of my own self improvement I have been thinking more about the issue. Today I want to share those thoughts.

So we began action on the issue we want to improve. Generally speaking there are two ways we could do this.

We can totally modify the behavior all at once cold turkey. Stop drinking, stop smoking, stop eating crap, stop finding potential mates drunk at closing time, whatever. In some cases when the behavior is dangerous this is a good option. On the other hand in some cases stopping using substances cold turkey can actually be dangerous. Those are the extreme pro's and con's. In general I am against this approach because it is harder to stick with but sometimes you wake up and don't want to do something anymore and it sticks.

The other option is a more gradual approach. Instead of a heart attack in a bag every day get a turkey sandwich or salad 2x this week, next week do that 3, etc.

How do we make this progress meaningful? I believe we need to make our plan measurable.

Drink less beer is not a measurable plan. Drink 2 or fewer beers Sunday to Thursday and not more than 6 on Friday/ Sat is measurable. Work out isn't measurable. Exercise for 20 minutes 3 times a week is measurable. A measurable goal matters because that way you can know if you are succeeding or not.

Now we know if we are making the initial plan stick.

I should note that these are measures of performance not measures of effectiveness. These are not a long term answer because they are not performance rated. The weakness of measures of performance is you might not be measuring the right thing. You could exercise for 20 minutes 3 times a week (meeting the measure of performance) but not improve at all and thus fail your measures of effectiveness.

I like to start with measures of performance for three reasons.


Image courtesy of Kenny AKA Knuckle Dragging



First the primary goal early on is habit building.

Personal case in point. Leave was chaotic and I a only really getting back to dry fire practice this week. My goal was simple. Do 5 sessions of dry fire this week. No agenda, no time goals, no measures of effectiveness. Just do some dry fire most days of the week.

Why did I do it this way. My goal is just to get back into the habit of doing dry fire.

Second is that in the beginning of many self improvement areas or fitness/ skill building you will make progress right away so that isn't an issue.

Third in some cases you may not have a baseline from which to develop meaningful Measures of Effectiveness.

So how do we up the tempo?

It looks different for different things.

Lets take my dry fire. Next week I will probably do 10 minute sessions and use a shot timer. No real agenda and no par times. Just dry fire for 10 minutes 5 times using a timer. The week after that I will go to 15 and have a rough agenda. A week or two after that and I will probably have a program similar to something John Mosby would use. About that same time I will start keeping track of measures of effectiveness and setting short to mid term goals for them.

So those are my thoughts on how you can work towards self improvement. Get out and do it.

2 comments:

Aesop said...

I wrote my post on a completely separate topic, then I read your blog today.
Helluva coincidence. And great advice.

Pineslayer said...

I need to shoot more. No excuse besides life and cold winds.

Stay out of bars, better pickings at the gym.

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