I got this idea from Gretchen Rubin when she spoke at the lovely UPOD Academy for writers in February. If you’re having trouble getting something done (say, a workout), “pair” it with something else so that it gets a little tastier, a little more attractive, a little more fun.
Important! Pairing is not a reward.
It’s a tool to help you associate something you love with something you want to love a little more than you do right now.
This does not mean, by the way, “rewarding” yourself by pairing your workout with something that undoes the value of the workout – say, by having a treat! That’s not the way it works.
So, for example, I pair my long runs with my big band jazz orchestra albums. I only listen to Buddy Rich when I’m running for an hour or more (preferably more). If you pair your strength workout with putting a few dollars into a jar that, after a month or so, you’ll use to buy a new top you can wear at the gym that shows off your newly-sleek arm muscles, that’s a pairing (and it’s fun to watch the jar fill up!).
The important thing with pairing is to realize it’s never really about giving yourself a “reward” at all – because exercise is its own reward. It’s just more fun when I get to listen to my big band jazz while I’m exercising, so I pair the two things together.
What I really like about pairing is that it’s all about linking two actions and making the two of them more fun as a result. It’s not about looking for a particular “outcome” and then rewarding that outcome – which might have been very much a function of outside influences. So, I don’t pair “losing 5 pounds” with “buying a new outfit.” I pair “getting my workout in” with the two dollars I put into my new-outfit jar after getting my workout in.
The weight loss bit will happen on its own, if that’s really something I’m working towards with decent nutrition as well as exercise. But I want to pair the action – getting my workout in – with a second action – saving up for a new gym outfit. That helps the workout get done.
So, in a nutshell (or an eggshell), that’s what pairing is all about. Try it the next time you’re having trouble planning your workouts and see if it helps you get going a little faster.
Yesterday’s #Every48 workout: An unplanned REST DAY. I was really, really trying to get out for a yoga class or a bike ride at the gym, but got all wrapped up in work-‘n-stuff. Yet another piece of evidence leading me to the inescapable conclusion that I need to exercise first thing in the morning, or things just get…complicated. Onward.