Weekly Hello! #18 — The thing with defaults

Weekly Hello! #18 — The thing with defaults
The stickies I keep attached to my computer to remind me of my desired default behaviours and values.

Our lives are ruled by hidden defaults. You wear the same shoes because they are likely the easiest to grab, and the same thing with clothes in your closet. On a highway petrol stations and food spots are situated to the left, to and away from town respectively, as this usually aligns with you going to work vs going back home. They are the invisible threads that keep our lives moving in any direction.

Something powerful happens once you begin questioning and even implementing your own defaults, your life begins to better align with your values and ambitions. One such ambition for me is to become someone who writes more often than not. I always thought Sundays would be the best time for me to do this, but even though I've managed a few Sundays in a row in the past, it has never been a habit I could stick to all too well once life becomes demanding, just as working out and eating well are the first to go when life gets busy.

Applying some "obstacle is the way" thinking, I realised that the same methods I've used to make my healthy eating and regular exercise habits stick could apply to my writing. Lower the friction to performing the habit and reduce the intensity of a repetition. Take exercise as an example; I have lowered the friction by defining a workout not only by a visit to the gym but by any method of movement I can accomplish within 15 minutes. The second part, 15 minutes, speaks to the lowering of the iteration part; it's just as important. This means that on a busy day to get a workout, I simply need to grab some kettlebells from the balcony for a quick session, a yoga mat from the cabinet for some yoga, or even a quick walk with the puppy if the weather allows.

The same lessons apply to eating well consistently. I've lowered the friction by having a set of go-to meals and recipes both for at home and when I'm at the office. Lowering the intensity also applies, my aim is not to eat healthily every single time, that makes life too rigid and makes any lapses feel intense; my aim is to eat well 80% of the time. This translates to being able to eat most of what I would eat if I had free reign but with some consideration. Burger? Sure, but maybe with a salad. Breakfast croissant? Gladly, but only once a week.

Here's how I'll be applying these same rules to my habit of writing more regularly. I've reduced the "friction" by having a repeating Sunday publish/writing session where I simply write about the past week and any lesson, small or large, I've come across. No need for a well-thought-out article exploring some niche topic. I've lowered the "repetition" by considering it a proper update if it's at least 300 words. That looks like the first 3 paragraphs of this update; I can write that many words in my sleep!

With this new change, I'll be able to more consistently write and better approach living in alignment with the values and ambitions I hold. A life well lived.

Okay, that's it for now. Thank you for joining me; be you, and stay great!

Further reading

Did you make it to this part? Nice! Why did you this far, drop me a comment or reply to this email?
If you're interested in the hidden defaults that run our lives, I'd recommend you read the following books:

  1. Atomic Habits: James Clear makes a strong case for how to recognise the hidden defaults/habits that run our lives and how to better manage and change them.
  2. This Could Be Our Future: In this manifesto disguised as a book, Yancey Strickler — Co-founder of KickStart — provides some language and tools for recognising how the world around us has come to be as it is, and how we could remake it if we dared!