NOW I Can Move on With My Theory of Small Disciplines

I saw a TV show in which a character wanted to be strong enough to pick up a bull, so he planned to pick up a calf every day. Each day the calf would grow heavier and he’d pick it up, until one day he could pick up a full grown bull.

This is how small disciplines work, only they’re real, and actually work.

Suppose you get up at 8am and rush to work, and you want to shift to 6am. I am of the opinion that trying to do this in a single leap inevitably leads to failure; a two hour change in your rising time is simply too large, requiring too much self-discipline to last.

What about five minutes?

Can you get up t 7:55 for a week? It is a small thing to rise five minutes earlier.

Then, having done it for a week, can you get up at 7:50 for a week?

Incrementing backwards, five minutes at a time, each for one week, in six months, you will shift your morning routine by two full hours and be getting up at 6:00 am.

Without suffering sleep deprivation for the 12 weeks it takes to begin forming a new habit.

Without the risk of backsliding (weekend are particularly bad) and having to start over, or accept failure.

I am in the process of working backward from 6:30 to 6:00. This week is 6:20, and this morning at 6:19 I lay in bed arguing with myself. I wanted to go back to sleep for a few more minutes, but were the extra five or ten minutes worth the feeling of failure? Worth the self-recriminations over 10 lousy minutes?

I thought it was not, and got up.

Small disciplines work.