I had lunch with a colleague recently. He asked me what kind of issues I’m working on with my coaching clients. I told him* about a favorite client who emails me at 5 a.m. every morning.
This particular client’s life flows better if he gets up early, goes to the gym, and then heads to work. He beats himself up if he doesn’t follow this schedule. And heads down a spiral of self loathing. So it’s important he gets up early.
The problem is that it is very, very hard to do.
After a couple of false starts, I suggested that he simply start a new habit. I remembered reading somewhere that a habit takes three weeks to set, so I challenged him to get up at 5 a.m. for the next 21 days. We agreed that he would email me when he was up; if he didn’t, he was signing up to go running with me later in the afternoon.
This client was up at 5 a.m. every morning. By the end of the three weeks, he was waking up at 4:55 a.m., before his alarm went off. I guess he really didn’t want to go running with me.
“I want that,” my colleague said. “Everything’s better if I run in the morning.” For awhile I got two early-morning emails telling me they’re up and at ‘em.
I then rolled over and went back to sleep.
*(retaining confidentiality, of course)