Summary: Habits are built through consistency. There will be times when you will want to give up – the key is to recognize those moments and not to let them ruin your hard work.
The final point in my previous post was that I have never given up and just kept going, regardless of how lazy I felt, how late I came home or how little sleep I got – every time, every week I was faster than my excuses.
What helped me – and what I wanted to share with you – was the awareness that it will be tough at times. I know, it sounds pretty basic, but it is surprising how often that awareness is missing and when the more demanding time comes, people just give up, forgetting that obstacles are just a part of the process.
One of my pet hates is reading / hearing coaches say “only 100% matters”, “no excuses”, “if you stop, that means you’re weak” or anything close to this, which in their mind should have a motivating effect (and probably will for some), but for me it’s a shortcut to making people feel bad about themselves when they encounter a weakness of theirs. I am all for 100% / no excuses, but what I would recommend even more strongly would be the deep understanding and awareness that your commitment will be tested by yourself and the reality and some of those tests might require a lot of your energy to overcome them.
Building a simple habit takes about 21 days, according to research. The more complex the habit, the longer it might take. Here’s the bare truth, without any illusions: the first days are normally demanding. But once you’re past them, there is a high possibility that there will be more of such times and that’s completely natural. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak, not committed enough, not good enough, not motivated enough – it means that you’re human. Please remember that. (Unless you consider yourself a superhuman, then ignore me)
What I also suggest is: make sure that you remember that there will be worse days and train yourself in consciously spotting them. That’s because if you’re a practiced spotter, you actually allow yourself to make a choice. If you’re oblivious that there might be difficult days ahead of you, one of them might come your way, hit you hard and bring you down with a thump – you’ll get up the next day not knowing what hit you and feeling bad about yourself. But if you consciously know that it is pretty likely that there might be times when it’s going to be tough, you can recognize one of those times when it comes, pause, say to yourself “ok, I knew this day might come, what do I want to do about it?” and then make a choice. Remind yourself of the logical argument for why you’re doing what you’re doing (e.g. this will help me lose weight, getting up early will give me a few extra days during the year), as well as the emotional argument (I will look great if I do this, this will make me feel great about myself, this is me making an impact and living my purpose) and choose your way forward as regards this obstacle. I think that’s one of the ultimate determinants of success – not only the drive, the motivation, the clear goal, but also the awareness of the bumpiness of the journey and the ability to choose to overcome the bumps and get an extra kick out of them.
Even if you “fail” when a worse day comes and you break your habit-building cycle, then that’s fine – pause, reflect on what happened, learn from this experience and start fresh, richer with that lesson and ready for the next time that worse moment comes, armed with new energy to deal with it.
Let me know your thoughts!