Rewards Needed?

The Software Process and Measurement Cast and Blog crew is on the road this weekend so we are going to take a day off from our re-read of Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2018 – Buy a copy and read along!)   Today we re-visit a blog entry from 2013,  In 2013 we ran a series titled “Motivational Sunday”.  In this entry, we talked about the relationship between commitment and habits. I have tweaked the works a little but the sentiments are no different. Commitment and habits can be positively interrelated. Commitment is being dedicated to a cause or activity.  Habits reflect a more or less fixed routine. The combination of commitment and habit is beneficial if the commitment is to a positive goal and habit does not become an obsession. Once it is established, the combination can go into autopilot. In my world, running reflects a positive combination of commitment and habit.

Once upon a time, I started running to cope with life as a road warrior.  It began as a form of exercise. When you begin to confuse a french fry with a vegetable, an eye exam and exercise are necessities. That was approximately twenty years ago, eighty pairs of running shoes ago and fewer blisters than you would expect ago.  Over time the initial commitment developed into a habit and I had become a runner. My formula:

  • Start small and build – I began running the distance between two telephone poles then walking. Overtime time that became run two, walk one then run three, walk one then suddenly it became 13.1 miles.
  • Repeat again and again – Simply put, at one point I ran nearly every morning, now I run every other day (sometimes more) and do yoga when not running.
  • Don’t let the day get in the way – I run first thing every day at approximately 4 AM.
  • Rewards and feedback – The races have become my reward and feedback mechanism.  Starting a race with a few thousand of your newest and closest friends is stirring.
  • Commit to yourself – The only person that will be able to hold you accountable is you.  Give yourself permission to hold you accountable by committing to yourself to achieve your goal.

The downside? I wake up at 2:30 AM many mornings in a state of anticipation.  On race days, like the Marine Corp Marathon 10K it is worse. I get keyed up. My commitment and habit has combined and become something more – passion. Even on the days when it is wet and chilly, even when the morning comes way too early. Over the years I have found that the most powerful commitments are those you make to yourself and then find a way to engage the human version of autopilot, habit.

Habit and commitment are useful for building passion in any sort of work.  Running is a metaphor.