It always seems to happen the same way. You start a new habit. It’s a great habit. It’s making your day better. In fact, it seems like it will improve your life. If only you could remain consistent. Consistency is the thing that stands between us and achieving the goals we talk about wanting so much.
There could be any number of reasons why you don’t feel self-motivated enough to remain consistent with new habits. One reason could be the fact that our brains are wired according to our current habits. What is the pattern that you tend to follow? If you are great at starts but then fizzle out after a few weeks (or a few days) then it may be your brain going on auto response.
Below are five ways for you to block your feelings from blocking your goals. I’ve found all of these useful and hopefully you will as well. Our fears can be pretty convincing. Therefore, we have to create ways to work around fear. You can choose to do all of these, instead, I suggest starting by picking the one that would benefit you the most. Once you have one down add another.
Is your new habit something that you can plan for? Do it. Schedule it into your calendar as if it is a work appointment. Mainly, because it is a work appointment. It is going to likely be something that will help you personally or professional and maybe both. Therefore it is work. Working on yourself is work worth setting time aside for. Your growth is important enough to schedule it into your calendar (with reminders).
We are constantly being asked to look at our calendars to carve out time for things such as other people, professional responsibilities and medical appointments. Do it for yourself, do it for activities you are passionate about, do it for projects you want to finish for your own satisfaction. You would do it for your boss, be the boss of yourself. Plan and schedule the block of time that you will practice your new habit.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
What if the time comes and you don’t do it? One of the topics I discuss most with clients is the discomfort they have around marketing themselves and their offerings. There are wonderful ways we can automate some of these things. If marketing on social media, for example, is something that you do, you can automate posts.
You can sit down for a few hours one night of the week and plan your marketing posts for the whole week (or beyond if you get on a roll). You will not be able to automate everything but you can automate certain things like, your cell phone bill. Most of us would need our phones no matter life throws us.
You can automate marketing posts. You will know that you are consistently getting your message out without the fear of pushing the button that may stop you.
You won’t take the time to schedule posts either? What about having someone that you will have to report back to? It is helpful to have an action partner. Having an accountability partner can look however you two choose. Will you do a call weekly? Will you schedule times to work either in person or remotely?
Make sure that is it someone who is also committed to consistency. At the very least, make sure that it is someone who is committed to improving and growing. You may find it more useful to have a human being that you will check in with and keep your progress on track.
4. Pre-prepped Pep Talk
If you are going it alone, know that homeostasis is at work inside of you. This system works without us having to do anything. The majority of the time that’s a good thing. Our body temperatures remain constant, blood sends substances to the right organs for optimal function. However, this function of our bodies is on auto, it does not know whether a change is good or bad. It only knows that it is out of the norm for how you usually function. It is trying to set itself back to what you’ve taught it (through habitual thinking & acting).
It’s best to make this when you are in great spirits! Write on an index card or in a small notebook that you keep with you. Make a list that includes some wins you are proud of: the vision for your life that this new habit gets you closer to, quotes or phrases that inspire you to action, encouraging caring things that you would tell your best friend, etc.
Laminate it if you want to. Keep it with you so you always have a reminder of how you benefit from this new behavior/habit ready to whip out. Write down all of the encouragement you can think of that will be impactful enough to get you started even when you don’t feel like starting.
“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them, just find a new way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey
5. Keep Going
Life is a collection of choices and consequences. Neutral until we assign labels of good or bad, positive or negative to it. Once we are adults, we have to choose to be vigilantly active in creating new habits (one at a time even). Choose too many and you will fail. Choose too few and you will improve for sure, perhaps not as fast as you’d prefer though.
Where we want to be is in a place where we are honest with ourselves. There are moments when we absolutely should stop and take care of ourselves. There are other times we have to remind ourselves that consistency is the key to what we desire. We have to commit. There may be setbacks. That’s normal. What’s important is that we don’t view set backs as final verdicts. They are simply opportunities to learn something new.
If you have ever asked yourself how you were going to get to the finish line, here are some tools for your journey. Get support. Let the people around you know that you are working on creating some new habits and their support would be great. How do you define support? Define it for yourself.
Try different things until you find the ones that are most effective for you. Then, keep doing them. Knowing and doing are two different things. We can know an endless amount of facts. What good is it if we aren’t persistent? Consistency is about doing when things are easy and when things are hard. Consistency is acknowledgement that it may take some time to undo the habit because it was learned so slowly over time just by our individual life experiences.
Give and take. Push and pull. One by one. Without consistency you wander. With consistency, you will arrive at your destination (or maybe into something different and better). Commit to doing the work until it no longer feels like work. Commit to doing the work until it’s done.
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com