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I know I should do it and really, it’s not that hard. I’ve done it before, but why can’t I get myself to do it now? You see, I just got back from a two week vacation – completely unplugged from work and the monotonous routines of daily life.
No meetings, no calls, no chores, nothing. I had nothing to do but to relax. And so I did, with bottomless beverages and countless meals. The result, I was completely and utterly relaxed, but I had put on ten pounds.
I know you’ve been there – maybe not ten pounds, maybe less, maybe more. And I know that you said you were going to work it off when you got home, just like I did.
So what happened when I got back? Did I (you) get up early and run? Nope, not that day. I then told myself I’ll do it tomorrow. Well, tomorrow turned into the next day, turned into the start of the workweek, turned into the weekend where I had plans with friends.
I never got myself to wake up early and go for a run. Those ten pounds never went away. In fact, they eventually turned to fifteen.
Focusing On The Short Term Will Derail You
So why is it that we never seem to be able to get ourselves to do what we know we should, even when it’s easy? Sometimes we start, stick to it for a bit, and then inevitably we go right back to where we were – our comfort zone. The reason we do this is because we don’t know how to hold ourselves accountable.
Getting motivated is the easy part. You can watch a movie, read an article, or watch a clip on YouTube to get in the right mindset – that’s easy. But the hard part is to get yourself to take action in the first place. And then the real hard part is to keep going, day after day.
The unfortunate thing is that if we don’t see or get the results we want in a short period of time, then we give up. We feel like a total failure. And since we’re not accountable to anyone, it’s easy to quit – because no one will know we tried and failed.
These days, we’re conditioned to expect immediate results. Everything, and I mean everything, is right at our finger tips. On a whim, we can buy anything from our phones, we can order food, we can get almost anything we want immediately. Not only does this apply to material things, but what about our bodies? Getting a tan, losing weight, getting a new nose or any of the different implants – you can get anything!
Well, the same thing applies whenever we try to do something. No matter how big or small it is we want immediate results. Some people think that if they run for 30 minutes that when look in the mirror, they’ll see a skinnier version of themselves. It’s naïve and stupid to expect that.
Don’t Underestimate The Impact Of A Lot Of Little Things
The reality is, that’s not reality. Anything that we want that is meaningful, takes time, and sometimes it takes a lot of time. But most importantly, it takes a lot of effort and consistency.
Question: So how can we start conditioning ourselves to continually stick to something; to build those good habits?
Answer: Start small.
“Perfection is a lot of little things done well.”
~ Marco Pierre White
Don’t go for the life changers, changes that require a Herculean effort. Instead, start by setting a small goal for yourself. Make it one where you do something you’ve never done before.
You know what that means, right? It means that you have to do something that’s not comfortable or familiar to you. You’re going to have to willingly take yourself out of your comfort zone. Stop doing the exact same boring things you’ve been doing every single freaking day and do something new!
Make Failure Cost You Something
Here’s a challenge. For the next week, just one week, pick something you know you should have done for a long time but haven’t. It can be to go for a 15 minute walk each day, eat one piece of fruit every day, or it can be to not look at your phone while you drive. Pick something – make a conscious effort to do it (or to stop doing it).
Now here’s the important part, figure out how to hold yourself accountable! If you can’t do this yourself (which is most of us) then tell someone what you want to do and get them to hold you to it – but with a twist.
Don’t just tell them because if you don’t follow through, what are the repercussions?
There aren’t any. So then make it cost you something if you don’t do it. Tell them you’ll buy them lunch for a week or you’ll pay for their drinks for a weekend, something so that you’re not off the hook so easily.
I promise you, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to stick to it when you realize it’s going to cost you something if you quit.
It Really Works – Not Only In Theory But In Real Life
After a while, you’ll start building those “accountability muscles” and you’ll be able to do new things yourself. You won’t have to rely on anyone else to hold you accountable.
Here’s a personal example. I never used to stretch in the morning or drink a glass of water when I woke up. When I slept, I would literally be lying on my back for 5-7 hours. When I woke up, it felt as if my body had atrophied and I could tell that I was completely dehydrated.
I knew that wasn’t good for me but I couldn’t get myself to change. So I told my wife that each morning right when I woke up, I was going to stretch and have a glass of water. The cost – I couldn’t have my glass of wine with her when I got home from work.
And believe me, she held me to it! Some nights I went without it.
Sure I could lie to her and tell her I did my morning routine, but who wants to lie to their spouse? I really wanted to build those good habits. Guess what, it worked!
Now I stretch for at least 10 minutes and have two glasses of water before I start on my coffee. Since I get up by 4 am each morning, the coffee is a must. But first, I do my routine.
Now I look forward to doing my morning ritual, not because I’ll have my glass of wine (which is a plus), but because I feel great once I’m done. In fact, I’ve started working on building other good habits and each time it gets easier.
Remember those “accountability muscles” I mentioned earlier? Well, they’ve gotten bigger and stronger.
Try it out for yourself – who knows, your “muscles” might be stronger than you think.