Habitual Automation

Habitual Automation

Hi there! I’m writing this newsletter from Tokyo Japan – where I just landed after more than 24 hours of travel. This was the longest flight I’ve ever done in my life, and with a baby added to the mix, this was also one of the most challenging flights I have ever done in my life. I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience in Tokyo and how I’m breaking all my habits. But first…

Weekly Inventory Check

As we have entered the first week of March, let’s take a moment and think about how the first two months of 2024 have treated us. What goals and ambitions have we set up for this month and how can we go about them? Analyze your routines and the minor patterns within yourself and really ponder on how those habits can be improved, if of course, improvement is needed.

Habitual Automation

I set out for Tokyo in early March, determined not to let the month slip away without action. While taking a vacation, I’ve paused everything else, but I plan on exercising three times a week here on my trip. I can’t keep up on my usual morning routine so I am trying to adapt accordingly.

It’s been a week since I arrived in Tokyo, and I find myself caught in a familiar struggle. If you have been following my newsletters, you would know that I have a habit of only indulging in sugar once a month, a rule I’ve staunchly adhered to for years. The way this works for me is, of course, maintaining the discipline to adhere to the rules I’ve kept for myself, and through this habit, sugar just doesn’t excite me much anymore. Now, the problem with this sort of mentality is that one day I indulge in sweets, my mind starts telling me that “you’ve already eaten one piece, might as well have another”. Nonetheless, this occasional lapse does not significantly affect me in the long run, as my monthly practice has conditioned my body to regard sugar as undesirable since it’s not a regular part of my diet.

A minor disclaimer for you guys: this isn’t me stating science-based facts; it’s just my opinion and how I believe it works.

Back to the day before I landed in Tokyo, the plan was to wait until I landed to treat myself, especially considering the long flight myself and Leah, my daughter, had ahead of us. My mind, however, whispered to me, telling me that it’s only one day, so I might as well have a piece now. Which led to another… which led to another – and by the time I reached it hit me that throughout my journey, I’ve just been going crazy with the sweets, pre-, mid-, and post-flight.

Now the strategy for Tokyo was that, since it is a vacation, I should give a little wiggle space to the rules because my wife wanted me to enjoy the trip, and she wanted to enjoy sugary treats with me. So the middle ground was set at having two non-consecutive days a week where I could indulge in the sugary traps, and this was to avoid letting my body think that it’s okay to have back-to-back sugary days. To be fair, I believe that I have adhered to that pretty well (excluding the flight day fiasco).

My point of sharing this story with you is that no matter how many guardrails or rules you set, it’ll always be easier to automate bad habits. Automating good habits, on the other hand, is where the challenge is. That’s something I want you guys to really absorb and understand because good habits aren’t psychologically sound; they feel like a chore even if it’s good for you. Bad habits exploit your psychological biases because your brain craves that dopamine hit; In my case, it was sugar. So in Tokyo, I’ve gone through this binge that I’m trying to recover from by making a conscious effort in walking more. It’s an honest attempt at compensating for the binge, and I keep telling myself that “you need to walk no matter what” even though I really don’t feel like it. Even though my feet hurt, this is my way of holding myself accountable. It’s me balancing the bad automation by consciously practicing good automation. I feel like, it’s not enough to tell yourself that you’re implementing good automation. You need to make it a natural practice, you need to learn to accept it and make it a part of you.

And that’s it for my first week in Japan.

Want More?

An article on the Springer Link expands on the philosophy of action and expands on how habitual action is an ‘amphibious’ phenomenon.

James Clear has written a book; Atomic Habits, where he dives into easy ways to build good habits and how to break bad habits.

Bachier Basten explains in his article, those 7 reasons why most people fail to build good habits.

Reel of the Week

Check out our reel of the week. To cultivate impactful habits, individuals often adopt two primary approaches. Some focus on constructing a mental framework, ascending the initial ladder to fortify willpower and sustain momentum. On the other hand, some establish systematic routines and environments that foster the development of positive habits, ensuring a supportive backdrop for their journey.

Instagram post by @thisisvasl

The Weekly Vasl Podcast

Our episode on Self-Discipline is out now! You can watch it below! I continued the insightful dialogue, this time with the intriguing William, fondly nicknamed “The Disciplinarian.” Their focus revolved around the art of sustaining self-discipline amidst life’s myriad distractions – from constant phone beeps to work demands and family pressures. William and I delved into the core of maintaining discipline over the long term, exploring how to navigate daily challenges while still prioritizing personal well-being. We shared thoughts on crafting routines that harmoniously blend healthy habits, including nutritious eating, regular exercise, and cultivating enjoyable hobbies.

We are also on Spotify, Apple, Google, and wherever you listen!

The Meet up

Our upcoming meet up is scheduled for late March. I will share the details and registration link soon.

Thoughts to Leave You With

As we journey through life, we often encounter the tug-of-war between our aspirations and our impulses. Finding balance is an ongoing endeavour. Leading a balanced life isn’t just about setting rules and limitations on yourself. Learning to integrate good practices into our daily lives, making them second nature is the way to find your equilibrium at your own pace.

 Understanding automated bad habit, and practiced good habits. The Weekly Vasl


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