You’ve likely seen both sides of the coin. When someone is physically fit to a seemingly inhuman level, or mentally capable beyond understanding, we say things like, “He’s a machine,” or “She’s not human.” On the other hand, if someone doesn’t show the emotions or behaviors we consider normal (think Mark Zuckerberg recently in front of the Senate), then we refer to that person as a “robot”. Whatever your personal opinion, of Artificial Intelligence, however, there is certainly something we can gain from the metaphor.
On a recent podcast, Aubrey Marcus made the assertion that everyone has routines. Whether they are good or bad, by adding small, valuable steps into your current routine, you will eventually create a habit. Now once something becomes a habit, it then begins to seep into your unconscious, and you will begin to take the action without thinking about it, thereby skipping the time necessary for your brain to create an excuse. He says this is like “upgrading our software.”
For those of you that just left the farm for the big city, Holly Golightly style, here is the definition of software: “the programs used to direct the operation of a computer…”
While we are not robots and don’t want to be (no matter how awesome Ex Machina was) the idea that you can upgrade your software, as Marcus explains, by building habits into your daily routines is a lesson too valuable to let go.
Consider this example:
You’re a normal American. You don’t like going to the gym after work. In fact you hate it so much you pay for a monthly membership that you don’t use. But you like the sauna, and you like reading Danielle Steele (everyone has a guilty pleasure). So you change your routine. Every time you get to the gym, you spend ten minutes in the sauna. You then workout. After you finish leaving half your water weight on the Stairmaster, you hit the showers. After that you treat yourself to a chapter Danielle’s latest masterpiece, either in the gym somewhere on a couch if you’re bougie enough for that kind of gym or in the front seat of your car in the gym parking lot if you are like the rest of us.
By adding a positive activity before something you don’t like, and then a positive activity also directly afterward, you are building habits and routines into your daily ritual, giving your mind things to look forward to that are directly tied to the healthy habit. If the sauna is at the gym, and your brain associates Danielle Steele with the gym parking lot, then your brain will want you to go to the gym. Something you used to talk yourself out of is now a part of your day that you can’t live without. In fact, when done correctly, you will stress at the thought of skipping a day, as your brain will crave the endorphins created both by these two pleasurable activities and the exercise itself. Talk about hotwiring your brain!
So think of something you wish you had more “willpower” to accomplish and instead build a positive routine around it. Upgrade your mental software to the point where you are just following your own programming without a second thought, and watch the results follow.