How to Change Behavior? Introducing Yours Truly as Guinea Pig

Marco Díaz Calleja How to Change Behavior? Introducing Yours Truly as Guinea Pig

Experiments in behavior. (Photo: Katherine McAdoo).

I’ve neglected you, I know. And there’s so much to tell, but there’s one problem: I suck at writing consistently.

Actually it’s deeper than that.

I’m terrible at starting habits. My only true habit is an actual failure to develop them. Whenever I try a new one, be it writing, running, geese juggling… I quite decidedly fail. But this is relevant beyond flossing. If I want to change the world, first I need the ability to change myself.

I’m following Leo Babauta’s advice on the matter. As described by Tim Ferriss, he’s a wizard in the category. In two years he has:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Lost 40 pounds.
  • Gone from a non-runner to completing several marathons and triathlons.
  • Become a vegetarian.
  • Tripled his income.
  • Written a novel and a non-fiction book.
  • Eliminated his debt.

So what’s the recipe? Let’s find out.

Leo Babauta on How to Change Behavior

  1. Choose one habit a month.
  2. Write down a plan.
  3. Post your goals publicly.
  4. Report on your progress daily.


  • Choose an easy goal.
  • Choose something measurable.
  • Be consistent (do something at the same time daily).
  • Have a positive attitude.

My Habit

So what habit should I develop? Writing? Ha. Not so fast you cheeky monkey. The rules state it should be something easy. So I’ll try something else: waking up at dawn.

Besides being potentially useful when battling vampires, I want to do this because I love the setting. There’s a calm wonder in seeing the world coming alive: the moon waving goodbye, the birds singing hello, moms yelling at their ever-late-for-school kids. It’s energizing to see the latter fleeing in terror. Plus, some of my happier memories have occured during this time.

I have to note that my main obstacle for not waking up at dawn is my messed up sleeping pattern. Usually something will happen during the weekend, so come Sunday I’ll end up falling asleep at 10 am, and waking up by 6 pm. This can wreak havoc for the rest of the week. Plus, there are Internet and video games distractions such as Reddit, Twitter, Mass Effect co-op…

So as Babauta suggests, here’s The Plan.

The Plan

08/20 -Being awake at dawn (7:18 am in Mexico City).

08/21 – Wake up at 6:30 am.

08/22 – Walking 5 minutes during dawn.

08/23 -Walking 10 minutes during dawn.

08/24 – Walking 15 minutes during dawn.

08/25 – Walking 20 minutes during dawn.

08/26 – Walking 25 minutes during dawn.

08/27 – Walking 30 minutes during dawn.

08/28 – No Internet past 9 pm (this includes the iPad and iPhone).

08/29 – No video games past 9 pm.

08/30 – Going to bed at 10 pm.

That’s all I have. There’s supposed to be goals for the thirty days, but my imagination is a bit limited. If I come up with something I’ll update The Plan. There’s some rules to consider.


  • I’ll report my progress daily at 6:30 pm via my website, as well as personally write to my Viking brother, Albert.
  • If I go out, it’s ok to go to sleep past 10 pm, but I have to be awake by dawn.
  • No video games.
  • Restricted websites: Reddit, Twitter, Techmeme, Daring Fireball, Tumblr, Parislemon, Facebook, etc. I can only use them if they are work related.
  • I can enjoy unrestricted Internet and video games use from 7 pm to 9 pm.
  • Saturday is a rest day; I can sleep and wake up at any time, as well as use the Internet and video games as I see fit. (Edit, 2012/08/21: I’m eliminating this because Babauta doesn’t state there’s a need for it). 
  • For the moment I cannot trust my napping dark side, so no naps.

I’m sure public shame and/or glory will help me change my behavior. I’m excited.

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