On our path to continuous self improvement we are sometimes so motivated that we do an 180° turn in behaviour. Especially approaching the new year, our goals of new habits become... ambitious.
Starting tomorrow, I will wake up two hours early at 6am. I will go running each morning, workout 5 times a week, eat 100% sugar-free and run a marathon next month.
Our overflowing motivation lets us start unrealistic new routines that we can barely follow for over a month. After that we go back to the habit we wanted to change and wait for the next motivational push. This happens to anything drastic we want to change. Lose weight, start exercising, financial goals, eating habits, social media detox, you name it. The crazy thing is that there is an easier and more efficient way of changing your habits and I did not know about it until recently.
In a few books like The Power of Habit (which I can recommend) and talking to some friends the pattern of going crazy on change and failing became quite clear. Instead, try changing very very little things and after a few weeks, it became the new norm. Then you change the next thing. And so on. Baby steps.
Let's say we do this every month. After a year, we've changed 12 times and created a new, continuous habit that we follow. The complete transformation probably wasn't as big as our 180° turn but the results of a one year increasing change surely outperform anything we accomplished (and then lost completely) of a one-month all-in berserker change.
Let's use workout as an example. Instead of signing up for the gym in a 2-year contract with the goal of going 4 times a week to challenge Schwarzenegger soon - why not start slow? Reaaaaallly slow. Do 5 pushups before going to bed or after waking up. Do it everyday. Every, single day. Sooner or later you will start to do 10. Then 20. After a few months, you made quite the progress already, why not do a 10 minute bodyweight workout now? Another month later you can go for 30 minutes. And so on. Yes, it's fucking slow progress compared to two hours in the gym each day but you have tried that before haven't you? And did it work?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein
Start snail-style, turtle-beating slow. For social media detox, just uninstall a few apps from your phone. For waking up early, start going to bed earlier first. With patience and persistence you're much, MUCH better off in the long run.
No matter what you want to start or change, start with the smallest change you can think of and let it snowball into avalanche over the next year. All these baby steps will add up. Be patient.
I will probably write an episode about my goals for 2019 by the end of the month to share how I'm putting this into action. Some of which I already started. That's why you're reading this right now.
Do the first baby step today and let me know what it is and where you want to go!