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[Random Linkage] If You Want To Go To the Gym, Sleep in Your Gym Clothes: Activation Energy, The 20-Second Rule and Other Immersion Lessons

This entry is part of 6 in the series Random Linkage

“The 20-Second Rule

What stops you from making the changes you know you should? Shawn[Shawn Achor: ショーン・エイカー 「幸福と成功の意外な関係」 | TED Talk] says it’s “activation energy.”

You know, like the activation energy it takes to initially get your butt off the couch and to the gym. The hard part is getting started.“Stop stopping. Stopping is the worst thing. Stopping breaks your momentum. Stopping is the start of decay and regression. When you choose to stop, you set yourself the task not only of getting back up to the same speed as before but also to the same altitude — the same level of Japanese. Taking a break from Japanese will hurt your Japanese. A lot. Each time you stop, you lengthen the road to fluency. When you stop, you quite literally become like Sisyphus: forever pushing the rock of your Japanese ability up the hill, only to have it roll down each time you pause. And just like Sisyphus, you have to retread the same ground to get back up where you were. Always restoring, never progressing; it’s a huge freaking waste of time.”
[Are You a Three-Day Monk? | AJATT | All Japanese All The Time]

If you reduce the amount of activation energy required, tough things become easy. So make new habits 20 seconds easier to start.

Shawn would sleep in his gym clothes and put his sneakers next to the bed and it made him much more likely to exercise when he woke up.“You don’t have to run tomorrow morning. You just have to have your shoes on and be standing outside. You don’t have to eat healthy food, you just have to have (only) healthy food in your house. Once you’ve fulfilled the situational goal, you can go back inside to eat potato chips (oh, wait…none in the house — better run to the grocery store to get some) and watch Robot Chicken (oh wait, I only have Japanese versions…) if you want.
You may think just “being there”, standing outside with your shoes on, doesn’t do anything, and doesn’t achieve anything. And you’re right. But you’re also wrong. Because by being there you have done some incredibly profound scale-tipping — you have made it easier to do something, than to not do it. You have turned an uphill mountain hike into a playful, downward slide. You are now working with gravity, instead of against it.”
[Comfort Zone, Growth Zone, Panic Zone and Situational Goals: Life Is Easier Than You Think | AJATT | All Japanese All The Time]

Here’s Shawn:

“If you can make the positive habit three to 20 seconds easier to start, your likelihood of doing it rises dramatically. And you can do the same thing by flipping it for negative habits. Watching too much television? Merely take out the batteries of the remote control creating a 20 second delay and it dramatically decreases the amount of television people will watch.”

[Be More Successful: New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Do It – Barking Up The Wrong Tree]
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