Target Probably Knows More About Me Than I Do

Lisa and I were talking as we walked back from the Health Club this noontime. This fits our morning process on weekend days anymore, BTW, I write (or race) or whatever in the early morning, then we walk the mile and a half to the Health Club. We work out for an hour or so, then walk back. While returning today, Lisa thought back to the earliest days when we struggled to make it much past 7,000 steps a day. March, 2011, for example, the record says I managed only 9.1K steps a day–but as we discussed that felt like pretty good progress.

Today we do … uh … a little better than that.

Over the past year and a half or so, I’ve averaged 17,975 steps a day. I know this thanks to the tracker that comes with or company’s inclusion in the Virgin Health Miles program. (We’ll ignore the 40-60K or so steps I lost in a technical mishap … seriously … it doesn’t bother me, not one bit. The idea that the extra 100 or so steps a day that would raise my average would get me up over 18,000 doesn’t even cross my mind at all. Nope, it’s really okay).

During this time I’ve registers over 8.5 million steps. It’s 4:30 PM as I write this. My pedometer registers 17,095. I expect I’ll be well over 20K by bedtime. I’m averaging 21,927 a day over the past 11 days, and over 20,000 steps a day for the past five months, so that’s not overly surprising.

And to be blunt, Lisa kicks my tail here. It’s a very rare day that she goes to bed with less than 21,000 steps.

I’m thinking about this now both because we talked about it, and because of an article Lisa sent me a bit ago about marketing and Target and habits. Read it. It’s a scary article in some ways, but massively interesting. The most interesting thing to me is the entire discussion around habits, triggers for those habits, and the whole reward cycle. They say it takes 30 days to establish a habit, and maybe that’s true in our case, because within a month (April 2011) I was up in that 16-17K step/day range, and have inched up pretty steadily since then.

In the process of getting more active, we’ve made a series of fairly simple changes in our basic approach to life, but I’m thinking now of so simple triggers. Things like, as soon as I get up off the couch I immediately want to move. I don’t want to sit down until I’ve registered some semi-serious steps. Things like, when I’m walking to my car at work, I have a tendency to want to walk more along the edge of the parking lot than directly to my car. This adds probably 100 steps to my path, or as many as 200 a day. I do this without thinking anymore. I just see the car across the way (or think of it if it’s hidden behind a truck or whatever…my Miata is pretty tiny relative to most other vehicles), and I get a dutiful sense to walk it across and over. Makes me think of crossword puzzles.

I could go on.

I can’t for example, sit calmly on the couch without a laptop anymore. If I don’t have the laptop on my lap I’m conditioned to get up and at least kind of bop around while we’re watching TV. No value in just sitting there. Lisa goes a step further (pun intended?) and plugs her laptop in at the kitchen so she can move while she’s surfing. It’s her own take on one of those treadmill desks at work–which, BTW, I try to use _at least_ an hour a day. I find they are great for wading through email with. And I get a considerable amount of email.

So, yeah, I can still go on, but you get the drift or you’ve already left.

What is my point?

Hmmm. It was something about habits. I’m sure of that. Habits, yes.

I need to think more about how habits affect my life. I need to use this knowledge better. I do not want Target to be better at manipulating me than I am, after all. I’m struggling a lot with time management right now in a lot of ways. At points I resent the decisions I’m forcing myself to make regarding how I spend my time. And so I need to do better.

Perhaps you do, too. Or maybe you’re doing just fine. Dunno. But either way the article is worth your time.

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Posted in Daily Writing, Life, Science, The World.

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