Itâ€™s easy to get lost in the details when weâ€™re creating a habit, but looking at the big picture â€¦ what we really want over a longer period of time is consistency.
When weâ€™re consistent with a habit, it starts to become a part of who we are, embedded in our lifestyle as much as anything else we do regularly. That doesnâ€™t mean we never miss a day of doing the habit, but it does mean weâ€™re fairly consistent over the course of weeks, even if thereâ€™s a break or two in that period.
So thatâ€™s what we want, but how do we get there? The problem is, there are some big challenges.
You might think the challenge is the disruptions that inevitably come, from things like travel and work and illness, but in reality, those are just bumps in the road. If we learn to take those in stride, theyâ€™re not that big a deal. We just pick up where we left off with the habit.
The real challenge is our expectations. When we face a disruption in the habit, instead of just starting again, we feel disappointment or guilt, because we werenâ€™t perfect at it. We hope for, even expect, ourselves to be perfect with with the habit. And when we inevitably fail at it, we are so bothered by this failure to meet expectations that we avoid even thinking about the habit.
So our expectations are perhaps the biggest challenge. But thereâ€™s another that weâ€™ve talked about before: starting. More specifically, the resistance and rationalizations we feel before starting.
We thinking about (or try to avoid thinking about) the discomfort of exercise, and so we start rationalizing why we shouldnâ€™t start right now: â€œBut Iâ€™m busyâ€ or â€œBut I donâ€™t want to.â€
So these are the challenges. How do we stay consistent despite the challenges?
Strategies for Staying Consistent
Iâ€™m going to share some strategies here â€¦ some are mental shifts, and others are more practical tactics:
- Strive for continuing, not perfection. Instead of worrying about never missing a day, have your hope be to continue whether or not you get disrupted.
- Remember your Why. When things get disrupted or you face resistance, focus on your deeper reason for doing this. That can help you get started, or get back on track, because the discomfort and resistance are not as bad as failing your deeper Why.
- Decide ahead of time – donâ€™t do things based on motivation or energy. When weâ€™re faced with disruptions or resistance to starting â€¦ we make a decision not to do the habit because weâ€™re not feeling like it. This is a bad way to make decisions. Instead, decide whether youâ€™re going to do the habit a minimum of one day before â€¦ and then stick to that decision. When you start feeling like changing your decision, ask yourself whether you want to be someone who canâ€™t keep your word to yourself.
- Have a plan for when things go wrong. Plan ahead for when you get disrupted, which will inevitably happen. Make a plan today â€¦ what will you do when you face disruption? Will you quit? Or will you drop your habit to something very small, and ask a friend for accountability? Maybe you write yourself a letter to read when you face a disruption. Figure it out now, donâ€™t leave it to when the disruption happens.
- Change your thinking after missing a day or two. When you get disrupted, most often you get into a trap of negative thinking or avoidance. But these are supremely un-useful. They actually hurt you. So practice a different kind of thinking: problem-solving. Figure out how you can take action, how you can get back into it, how you can overcome any resistance you might be feeling. Itâ€™s a simple problem to solve: all you have to do is start.
- Do anything. When youâ€™re disrupted or facing resistance, donâ€™t worry about everything you have to do â€¦ just do anything. Any small action, thatâ€™s all you have to focus on. Repeat it as a mantra: â€œDo anything!â€
Exercise for Today
Create a plan for when things go wrong. Discuss your plan and challenges in Slack.