Building a new healthy habit is hard
In November 2020, I got some sort of a wake-up call.
One day, I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline when I came across a Zikoko article, that week’s edition of their Naira Life series. Zikoko is a Nigerian culture publication and the series explores the relationship between young Nigerians and money.
So, back to the episode in question. It was about a young lady who earns up to ₦1 million a month as a digital marketer. I was fascinated.
That wasn’t the first Naira Life article I had read but this particular one resonated with me because, well, it’d be nice to earn that amount of money and also because I’d always wanted to get into marketing. I thought if she could do it, so could I.
Up until that time, digital marketing was just something I did once in a while at my job. You know, post on social media, run campaigns and a little bit of email marketing here and there. But for some reason, I never thought to take it seriously and or imagined the possibility of earning big from it.
To say I was gingered would be an understatement. I don’t think I’ve ever been motivated by an external factor as much as I was on that day. And so began my journey to becoming a serious marketing professional by the end of 2021.
I spent the next few days researching opportunities in marketing. I stumbled upon product marketing, copywriting, affiliate marketing, content marketing, inbound email marketing, and so on. Suffice to say that the opportunities abound and I just needed to pick one and run with it.
I chose content marketing because I already know how creating online content works. I just needed to figure out the other moving parts of it; marketing, SEO, content types etc. It’s a whole lot.
But I decided that before I proceed, I’d need to learn copywriting which seems to me like the foundation of all types of marketing.
To achieve my goals, I came up with a plan — take courses, follow as many marketing professionals as I can on Twitter, sign up for their newsletters, listen to their podcasts, watch their YouTube videos as well as read their articles and books.
You know, to surround myself with everything marketing and soon I’d be one of them because as the saying goes, you are what you consume.
I also needed to create some time to do all these things alongside my day job. I knew that to achieve this, I needed to create habits out of all these activities.
I got clarity on how to make this work when I listened to an episode about habits on one of my favourite podcasts, Hidden Brain — you already know that I’m fascinated by human psychology.
According to the psychologist who was interviewed for the episode, habits are mechanical. They are done subconsciously. That’s why people who have healthy habits like exercising regularly, eating healthy and reading every day make doing these things look easy.
She explained that these people can perform these activities seamlessly because they’ve outsourced them to their subconscious.
It’s like driving a car. If you’re an experienced driver, you don’t actively think about the activity, you just do it. Whereas, if you are new to driving, you have to pay attention to everything while you drive, otherwise, you’d end up exchanging grammar, and maybe a few punches, with another Lagos driver after you hit their car.
So I know how habits work, how do I then make habits out of reading, taking a course, and practising writing marketing copies every day?
Dr Psychologist said I have to remove all the stumbling blocks from the process of getting a particular task done.
She gave an example of how she made running in the morning a habit by sleeping in her running clothes. That way, she eliminated the worries of having to wake up, struggle to get out of bed, put on her clothes and shoes before heading out. Instead, she made the process shorter: wake up and head out.
I get this one too but it’s easier said and done.
I made a little headway in the beginning. Between November and December 2020, I completed two courses and read three short books. I also made a schedule that was meant to guide me in the new year and help me become consistent with what I started.
It’s almost the end of January and my plans have been in the mud. I’ve not been able to finish another book or complete the course I started. I’ve been inconsistent with the podcasts and YouTube videos as well. The only thing I’ve been consistent with is one newsletter and I think it’s because I plan to take the sender’s copywriting course in February.
January has been underwhelming productivity-wise, but I guess I’m writing this to renew my commitment to becoming a marketing professional before the end of this year.
I’m looking forward to a better February.