Why didn’t I post any blog posts last week?
I don’t know. I just didn’t.

It wasn’t that there was more than usual going on last week. It wasn’t that I was holed in a cave allowing myself little access to the outside world. It wasn’t that I was scooped up by aliens.

I don’t know why I didn’t post. And after bragging about being so into the daily postings that I’ll write at 11:58pm, I’ll take the non-postings as well to evaluate them.

So I thought about it, and you’re not even going to believe me. Why – if nothing was especially out of the ordinary – why did I not post even once?

It’s the same thing I’ve been talking positively about in past posts, and now it’s affected me in the downward direction: self-regulation.

I exercised last week half the number of times that I have set for myself to exercise weekly. Half! That’s pretty bad. I exercised two or three times instead of the five times weekly goal. And there hasn’t been another week since Jan 1 when I’ve exercised this little.

So, that’s why. Self-regulation in one area of life seeps into self-regulation in other areas of life. I wasn’t exercising the usual number of times, and other basic plans and schedules went off kilter as well.

Seems pretty boring as an explanation, right? Well, actually not! Not to me.

  • It’s nice that science says that self-regulation in one area seeps into other areas.
  • It’s nice that I see this in my personal experience – when I am self-disciplined in the area of exercise, other things like the food I eat, how carefully I reply to emails, blogging daily, and other organizational matters fall into place. Other people including Penelope with exercise, Mimi with yoga, and E.N. with working out also see this in their personal experience.
  • Furthermore, it’s nice that I see this in my clients’ experience – when they create self-discipline in one part of their life, two weeks later, they’re ready to create self-discipline in another part of life.
  • And finally, it’s also – strange to say – nice that I see the contrary effect in my personal experience as well – when I drop self-discipline in one part of life, self-discipline in other parts drops too. (There’s no study that I know of that looks at the contrary, but it’s kind of illuminating to see this in action).
  • Similarly, it’s nice to see the contrary effect with clients’ experiencewell, it’s not nice! but it’s intellectually intriguing that this works in both directions – when self-discipline drops in one part of life, other parts have a tendency to follow.

In fact, if I were working with Roy Baumeister on research about self-regulation and self-discipline, I might be interested to learn whether the contrary similarly occurs – that a drop in self-discipline in one area seeps into a drop in self-discipline in other areas.

My theory would be that a drop in self-discipline in YOUR MOST IMPORTANT AREA would contribute to self-discipline dropping across the board. And my two most important areas are:
* Sleep
* Exercise
Then come good food habits, organization, cleanliness, cleaning the inbox, and other things. Once the first two are in place, a lot of other things work out too.

What is your most important area that if it’s in balance, other things more easily fall into balance?


  1. Posted Wednesday September 12, 2007 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Self-regulation and self-discipline are indeed interesting topics and it makes sense that it spreads into other areas.

    I remember reading that common theme among many of the contestants in the EAS Body-For-Life challenge (a 12 week contest to improve your physique) was that once they improved their diet and exercise habits, they found that they could achieve great things in other areas of their lives.

    I guess the moral of the story is … don’t let the “little things” slide because your habits will eventually impact the “big things” in your life. (And probably sooner than you expect… based on your experience last week.)

    I hope you are back on track with your exercise and blogging!


  2. Posted Thursday September 13, 2007 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’m intrigued that you mentioned this just now, because I’m experiencing something similar.

    In my case, I would add writing to sleep and exercise.

    And it’s interesting that Dave mentions BFL…I’m starting my first 12-week program on September 23 (I like starting new things in new seasons). I’m looking forward to the positive side effects!

  3. Posted Thursday September 13, 2007 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Shopping & food! They’re closely linked, the more energy I have (or make) for shopping the healthier I eat the better I feel the more I get done the better I feel about how much I got done. I should hire a cook and true happiness will ensue :P

  4. Posted Thursday September 13, 2007 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Dave, I’m a fan of the BFL system! It is the little things – when you know those particular little things are so fundamentally important. I am back on track – THANKS!!!!

  5. Posted Thursday September 13, 2007 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    WRITING! You feel much more settled when you have writing in your life? Good thing to have in life.

    Kudos to you on starting BFL on Sept 23. I’ve used the system – like it a lot. I recommend it to clients – it’s delightfully addictive and fun!

  6. Posted Thursday September 13, 2007 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    That’s a really cool new one I hadn’t heard yet – shopping for healthy food! GREAT! Really really great.