Stick to it!
Slow and Steady…
Forming new habits and breaking old ones can be a daunting task. We all know change is hard, we also know that change is possible if we follow a simple strategy. Unfortunately, many of us flip the switch and go all in when we finally make the decision. Which makes little sense as we typically do not decide on a moment’s notice to disrupt our own status quo. Ultimately, the decision to make a change comes on the coattails of several steps.
First, we need the awareness that what we are currently doing is no longer serving us appropriately. Then, we have to actually define what the problem is. Next, we can take a deeper dive into why the problem is an issue at all. Once we have determined the “what” and the “why” it is now time to look into different solutions. After we have researched viable solutions we can then decide which one will be the better option. Now that we have gone through the steps it is time to take action
Going from awareness to action can take days, weeks, or months. Let’s keep that in mind during the action phase. Be consistent with your approach, do a little bit at a time, and be patient.
How do you get there?
A little bit every day can yield amazing results. Consider this; a one percent improvement each day over the course of one year can net results nearly 37 times better. In the same way money grows, our habits can do the same. Habits are compound interest of self-improvement so where you are currently is not important. What is important is whether or not what you are doing is putting you on the right path. Too often and too many of us put too much stock into the thing we seek to accomplish. A more effective approach is to pay more attention to our trajectory, our path and process, and rely less on what our current results look like. Let’s think back to the last time you decided to make a change. What made this change evident? Why was it important to install this new habit?
There’s probably a few of us out there who have had this happen. Warm weather is on the horizon so you venture to the basement to grab your tote of summer clothes. While going through your summer wardrobe you come across the outfit you picked up on vacation towards the end of summer last year. To your surprise, or maybe not, the shorts are a bit snug in the waist and hips. You absolutely loved those shorts so you decide that Monday it is time to get back to eating better and working out. This is exactly what you do, purge the fridge and pantry of all the unhealthy snacks and processed boxed foods, and get signed back up at the gym, again.
It’s been a week and you’ve stuck to mostly real food, did three classes at the gym and have gone for a walk on the days you’re not attending class at the gym. You are feeling more motivated than ever before to stick with the plan this go around; and, for the next several weeks your motivation remains high. Then, one morning you wake up, you look in the mirror and cannot see any real evidence of all the hard work you’ve been putting in. It’s weird because you feel better than you have for a long time. So you go find “the shorts” and try them on. They fit the same as they did a month ago.
What now? You’ve been doing all the right things, eating a balanced, whole food diet and exercising five days per week. You feel like you have been working really hard for there to be no visible result. When this frustration sets in and the negative thoughts take over it is easy to let the old habits come back around. This is where we need to dig deep within and find a little patience and seek a clearer understanding of what we are asking of ourselves.
Play the long game
The book Atomic Habits by James Clear is referenced often; once again we are going to refer to a term to help describe why we often fail at habit change. See, in order for noticeable change to take place we may experience a period where we put in the work but nothing seems to be happening. Clear uses the term Plateau of Latent Potential; meaning, a new habit has to continue long enough to break through this plateau. Being patient and consistent when it comes to habit formation is the play we need to be calling. Surely we have heard the analogy of the stonecutter…. The first one hundred strikes do seemingly nothing, it’s not until strike 101 that the split happens.
The same logic applies in habit creation, it will not happen in one day or seven, even thirty; but, day thirty-two and boom…. It’s as automatic as brushing your teeth in the morning. Be consistent, do a little bit each day, and be patient. Like you’ve probably heard a million times before, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Stick to it!