“How?” is a universal and often neglected question. What follows is my opinion that I consider fact.
Students don’t need to hear ” behave yourself”, or “do your best”. They need to hear “sit quietly and don’t poke anyone”, and “work through sections 1 through 4. If you don’t understand anything, ask me a specific question about something you don’t understand.”
“They should know what you mean.”
Perhaps, but they often don’t.
What is the harm in being specific? It’s a bit more effort, but if it produces better results, why not try it?
Motivation doesn’t matter without implementation.
It doesn’t matter how much you “motivate” someone to do something if they do not know HOW to do so.
For a long time my parents and I have both wanted me to get to bed earlier. At first, we thought it was an issue of motivation. I obviously didn’t want it enough or else I would have figured it out.
Then I begin to realize my problem was not a WHY problem but a HOW problem. It is not a matter of motivation, but implementation.
I had to set aside what worked for other people and find something that worked for me with my health problems.
Which is not to say my parent’s suggestions were not helpful. It just took some understanding for their suggestions to become useful.
The most useful suggestions came after they took the time to truly understand the day to day of my health problems and how they affect getting ready for bed.
An Unconventional Solution
For the past week or so, I’ve been allowing myself to do what feels most natural to my body. Namely, fall asleep in a chair.
This is “logically” not a good solution, but it is a great solution.
It is “logically” not a good solution because it skips the things that I do for my health at night. It’s uncomfortable so my sleep is somewhat choppy. I haven’t been taking my meds that relieve chronic pain until I wake up again. I just sleep, wake up 3-7 hours later, take my meds, and either finish getting ready for bed to sleep more, or get ready for the day.
I’m not getting as much sleep as I would like, often around 7 hours a day. It’s not the same quality because of pain. Active pain meds during the day can be problematic because I will do things that normally would hurt, but don’t, until my meds were off. It’s easier to injure myself that way.
But for all its problems, it works like nothing else.
I’ve taken to falling asleep at 1-2AM usually, but Saturday I fell asleep about 11PM.
That may not sound that significant, but within the last couple weeks I was going to sleep at 7-9:30AM fairly consistently. I have a long history of going to bed at 6AM or later, with my latest “night” being when I went to bed after noon.
Compare the before and after numbers and you can see why I’m excited.
This was not as simple as falling asleep in my chair and achieving “overnight success”.
I’ve been doing the Tiny Habits free five-day program for a couple months now. I don’t think I’ve ever made so many changes to my habits so easily or so quickly.
Tiny Habits are all “tiny”, so I didn’t expect the changes to come quickly.
I underestimated the “multiplication effect”. Habits naturally formed and grew as I practiced the Tiny Habits Method. Even unrelated habits. That primed me to find a HOW, and ultimately to succeed.
I also cannot discount the power of prayer. My parents and I have been praying about this problem for some time now. I only found the Tiny Habits Method when I had finally surrendered my smarts to God.
I’m good at solving problems, that’s a gift God has given me. God periodically withholds His help in solving problems to remind me that He is the source of my strength, not my gifts.
The problem seemed simple to solve, yet would not be tamed. Until I admitted I couldn’t do it, accepted God’s help, and got to work.
Do What Works Now, Figure Out the Details Later
Falling asleep works because it gets rid of all the preamble that comes before sleep. It works now, I can sort out the details later.
And the details seem to naturally take care of themselves over time. I’ve naturally begun to take care of the health stuff I used to do at night when I wake up in the morning.
The effectiveness of something so simple reinforces how this is a problem of implementation, not motivation.
Why problems are important. If you don’t know why you do what you do it can be painful and mind-numbing even if you enjoy the work.
But once we know why, we must learn HOW.
This post was written, edited, and published this morning after getting about 7 hours sleep in a chair. It’s 10:31AM at the time of publication.
P.S. The student example may or may not be precise. It’s not intended to be, it’s an illustration.