Here’s a story about a life coach who should have known better
It all started when my friend told me about this wonderous alarm clock that doesn’t wake you up with the sounds of daggers and pain. Instead it eases you gently into the day by commencing about 10 minutes before your designated awakening time with the beautiful and gentle sound of chirping birds. It also has lights around it that imitate the gentle glow of the rising sun. In the 10 minute count down to your awakening, the ‘sun’ would get brighter and the bird chatter would get louder. Thus suspending reality of waking up in a city next to beeping lorries, and instead collaborating with your dreamy imagination and placing you in a tree house being woken up by nature.
I was so sold. Sign me up to tree house and hammocks.
The alarm clock costs a fair amount and I wasn’t sure I needed the extra sun feature but as it happened my newly upgraded phone had a bird singing alarm clock. Score!
The first few weeks were glorious. I might as well have been Snow White, although unfortunately robins didn’t aid my dressing routine. Then something different happened last week.
It was Sunday and it was 5am and I was woken up suddenly by my alarm. I woke up slightly panicked thinking I must have overslept because the alarm was really loud and also very confused – it was Sunday no?
I looked at my phone for answers, as you do, and there I realized it wasn’t my alarm that was making the bedlam. It was the birds. The real birds outside.
As you may have noticed it’s spring now. And so it’s nesting high time for birds. They are busy! And they are vocal about it. But as it happens with nature, they don’t keep it restricted Monday to Friday. Nope, they do as they do whatever day, whatever time. Sunday included.
It wasn’t their fault though. There have been many a spring that where bird song did not wake me up like this. But what was different this time round was I had conditioned myself to associate bird song with alarm with work with waking and action. I had taken a normally soothing sound and attached a whole new meaning to it. Basically, I had Pavlov’s dogs-ed myself.
Me. Me who studied psychology. Me who knows all about conditioning, and good old Pav. And yet I had set up a trap for myself. I had heightened my response to those lovely creatures and hadn’t realized it until that wake up call (pun intended).
I laughed when I realized what I had done. You have to.
And then I thought about all the other moments in life where we have made ourselves into Pav’s pups. And not just us, but society, rituals, advertising…
Would we have craved cereal for breakfast if it wasn’t for Mr Kellog’s advertising campaign?
How about Friday after-work drinks. Do you want to go to the pub or is that an association that’s been formed?
Birthday = cake
Christmas = cards = over-eating totally justified
Work = chore = dread?
What new associations can we form that work in our benefit? We want to perform better or be better, but when the time comes round to actually doing the task at hand, we may not feel like it.
So it’s about making that task more appealing. And the easiest way to do that is attach a reward.
I like writing. I like it when I get going and the idea just flows through my finger tips. But it takes some time to get there. And the biggest hurdle is actually physically getting my ass down to write. Even though I know I like it when I do it. But I’ve worked out a way that works. Instead of writing at home, where it can be lonesome, I have found a lovely little coffee shop with amazing coffee and no hipsters. It’s buzzy enough to make it feel like I’m an active member of society and not a recluse on my laptop at home, but it’s not too loud where I’m trying to shush people with stern but silent looks. I’d say 80% of my blog posts have been written there. So for me, blog = coffee and there my friend is my association, motivation and successful conditioning.
What tasks do you avoid or dread? And what can you do to motivate yourself? Where have you conditioned yourself to dread something? And how can you undo it?
Peace and tweet.