[This post is part of a series on the Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activity (SIDCHA). If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Since conceiving of the idea of the Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activity (during a SIDCHA — in particular, a cold shower), I’ve been taken by it. Naturally I want to test it, but I’m coming to consider having SIDCHAs among the most important concepts to personal and leadership development. It combines many of the behaviors and beliefs valuable to create changes you want.
Today I’ll cover SIDCHA properties that distinguish them from candidates that don’t qualify and to help you find them.
First, before you do it, you don’t feel like starting; while you’re doing it it’s hard; after you do it you’re glad you did. This pattern describes nearly all effective exercise, for example. Doing something with this property daily requires discipline and trains your mind to face hard decisions, choose what you consider right, and act on it. It trains you to overcome challenges. It practices discipline and develops fortitude.
Choosing to do something challenging every day, makes choosing not to eat a piece of chocolate cake easy. I would bet a group of people who wanted to make themselves more fit whose strategy was simply to adopt any new SIDCHA would succeed as well or better than another strategy that involved no SIDCHAs, even if the SIDCHA strategy had nothing to do with diet or exercise.
Second, the activities are often flow activities, meaning they create feelings of reward while you do them. They challenge us.
Third, they usually take tricks to start and teach us tricks to handle other challenges. I’ve written how to start my twice-daily burpees, I only tell myself I’m doing one. Once started, I finish the remaining nineteen, which is ninety-five percent. My friend who goes to the gym tells me he only plans to walk in the door. Once there he ends up working out an hour or two. I’ve come to start my five-minute-minimum cold showers by starting my timer for five minutes and eleven seconds. Once the timer starts, I have eleven seconds to get in the shower and turn on the cold water. It works.
SIDCHAs teach you to use willpower to get you to where your regular emotions kick in, a helpful life skill because willpower runs out quickly and requires concentration. Emotions motivate longer and work automatically, without conscious effort. For example, if your SIDCHA is writing and you enjoy writing, you may still need willpower to start yourself. Maybe you have to put your writing tools on a desk with a chair in front of it, sit yourself down, and force yourself to start writing. You know that exertion of willpower will lead that flow state to start.
Fourth, you might feel guilt or shame if you skipped it. This effect verifies that you consider the activity healthy. If you know something will improve your life, you feel bad if you skip it, generally because you know you chose something easy or comfortable over what you considered right.
Fifth, people who do SIDCHAs recognize SIDCHAs in others and can connect over them. If you exercise daily and you meet someone who writes daily, you recognize your commonality and can connect on major aspects of the practices, however different they seem, mainly the properties above.
I’ll write more properties as I come up with them.
A call to action
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