The first week was awesome!
— We worked out everyday.
— Ate healthy meals
— Worked on your career goals.
This is going to be a great year.
Week 2 rolls around:
— These burpees are getting pretty hard
— Why does boiled chicken taste so bland?
— How in the world do you set up a blog? Present this to the Executives?
— Can someone just give me a damn burger and fries?!
— I’m never going to find a career I love! I’ll never get promoted!
Not even a month in and we’re in total despair.
I get it. It’s hard to stick with new goals and habits. In fact, the myth that it only takes 21 days to form a habit is just that — a myth. According to James Clear, it actually takes 66 days to get a new habit to stick. That means, we still have 2 more months to go until we can fully assess whether or not this new goal has become a priority. Within those 66 days, I expect that I’ll be off track for more than 1 of those days. But that one day, or 2 or 3 shouldn’t define our progress for the rest of the year.
We’re all human and as hard as it is to admit, we’re not perfect. In saying that, here are 4 mindsets to move past the despair and get back on track:
Forgive yourself and move on
If we don’t learn to forgive ourselves for every shortfall that comes our way, we’ll never progress. Forgiving ourselves is the first step to moving forwards because we’re all going to make mistakes. If we skip a day of exercise but that doesn’t mean we need to skip day 2 or 3. Every day presents itself for new opportunities and a new day to redeem ourselves and get back on track. There will always be ways to distract ourselves and we might give into those temptations but that doesn’t mean we beat ourselves up and think, “Well, that’s the end of that streak”. If that’s the end, start a new one. Forgive yourself from yesterday and focus on what you can do today.
Motivation and Inspiration will get you nowhere
If I relied purely on motivation and inspiration to make progress, I wouldn’t get anywhere. They both come and go as they please. The only thing that will get us anywhere is grit and perseverance when we don’t want to do things or if things go sideways.
Angela Duckworth said it best when she says, “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” The start of a new year is something to look forward to — new beginnings, the banishing of old habits and the creation of new ones and we’re so excited to restart our lives. But there’s a big difference between excitement and endurance. Excitement is motivating and inspirational while endurance is just as it sounds, having to endure something that we don’t want to do. Excitement is also fleeting. It’ll leave us as fast as it came to us. The only way to get through the slumps is to do it anyway and know that we’ll see results in the long run.
Slow progress doesn’t mean no progress
We live in a world of instant gratification with the “now, now, now” mentality. If we don’t get it immediately, we lose interest or start to think it’s unachievable. Authors spend years researching to write one book, actors/actresses go on hundreds of auditions until they have the possibility of being offered even a small role.
All we see is the glamour and the rich life of the successful ones and think, “Wow, they’re so lucky”, but what we don’t see is the hard work, disappointment, tears, and late nights that carried them to where they are now.
Any work you do now, even if you don’t see the benefits of it still counts towards a step towards achieving those goals we set for yourself at the beginning of the year because everything adds up.
A 15 minute walk is better than not working out at all.
10 squats might not seem like a lot now but imagine how your legs will change by the end of the year
One cigarette won’t kill you but one cigarette every day for a year might do considerable harm.
The healthy habits and the bad ones, they all count. We get to choose the actions and habits that either make or break us.
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us” — John Dryden
It’s Hard for Everyone
You are not the only person in the world trying to achieve their goals, getting side tracked, feeling defeated. We’re all struggling in our own way.
- Find someone to talk to about the obstacles and set backs. Friends, family. Someone you trust. Sometimes, even talking to your pet can do the trick. Negative thoughts create negative thoughts until we become completely paralyzed by them. Once we hear them aloud, it’s out there and realize it’s not as hard as we initially thought.
- If you’re uncomfortable talking to someone in person, go online. There are so many forums and blogs with hundreds of people facing the same obstacles.
- Write them down. If we can see the problems in front of us, we can deal with them item by item rather than allowing them to accumulate in our minds.
- Read the backstories of the most successful. Even just an excerpt of the stories behind the success to the rich and famous will tell you of the struggles they faced. Read them and find the inspiration behind their stories.
“The great thing about life, when you feel you have gone off track you can always get back on track. Change your mind — Change your life.” — Unknown
We will all get off track. It happens to everyone. We might not see any progress for weeks or even months and if one month has already come and gone, know that there are still 335 days left in the year. We just need to learn to take advantage of them.
Originally published at possiblepursuits.com on January 21, 2018.