Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Motivation | breaking free of the start - stop cycle

If there's one thing I would love to conquer, it's the ability to maintain consistencies in some of my habits.  Too often I start doing something, experience the benefits of doing regular action, then stop.

Once the routine is broken, the negative results start to appear, then suddenly I'm motivated to start all over again. The problem with all of this is, by the time I get started again, I have to put in much more energy in order to get the results I want.
Let me give you a few examples:

Example 1:  I develop a skin care routine that keeps breakouts at bay.  Soon my skin clears up and I am able to make progress on past scarring.  Time passes and I don't maintain the habit.  My skin starts breaking out again and I bring back the habit. Now I have to deal with current blemishes, past scars plus the new scars that have formed from recent breakouts.

Example 2:  After putting a lot of time and effort on eating right and working out, my body is fit and toned. Suddenly I slack on my workouts and, before you know it, I've regained those stupid 10 lbs that I fought so hard to lose and I have to (once again) go through that torturous time at the start of a workout journey when exercising is the most difficult.

Example 3:  An entire day is set aside to tackle an area of the house that is over run with random clutter.  Hours later, I emerge victorious from the mound of useless items to a new, organized environment.  I vow to never let this happen again by practicing regular brief declutter sessions.  Things go well for a while.  Several months later, I find myself face to face with a similar obstacle all over again.

Those are just a few. There are many more that we can discuss. The point is that we invest a lot of effort at the start of any new habit before we see the results.  Once achieved, much less effort is required to maintain or even obtain better results.  Maintaining a habit is difficult because of the level of resistance one has to overcome.  That's the real challenge.

So how can we do it?  The answer may be a little different for everyone but one suggestion I have is to look back at any habit you've been able to keep consistently and try to replicate the process.  For example, I picked up the habit of scrubbing my feet with a pumice stone at the end of every shower for years.  I never have to worry about motivating myself to do it (or being inconsistent). Why?
 Because:
1. I attached that habit with something else I do every day (showering).
2. I know exactly when to do it (at the end of my shower just before I get out).
3. It takes little time or effort (about 15 seconds per foot).
4. I am rewarded every time I do it (I see the dead skin on the stone which serves as confirmation that I accomplished something by scrubbing).

I pretty much made it so simple that there's no guess work around it.

With other habits, I've had to think too much about when to do it, how to fit it in, remembering to do it, etc.  The habits I fail to maintain do not have system to reinforce their success.  For example.  As I write I'm sitting under my Micromist enjoying a steam session.  What if I were to plug in my facial steamer and use them simultaneously.  Then I would be reminded to do a skin steam session every wash day.  Otherwise, I might forget.  What if I chose to do 15 minutes of exercise before I jump into the shower every day?  The goal would be to break a sweat and the reward could be enjoying a refreshing shower after each session.  Or I could declutter for 10 minutes every time I walked in a room that I'd be spending time in.  The reward could be to enjoy an environment that is cleaner/more organized every time that I am in it.

The point of all of this is to figure out a way to NEVER STOP.  To keep going even if I only invest 10-15 minutes a day.  Those 15 minutes are immensely important and will save me a lot of time in the future. It's like putting away $50.00 in an account every paycheck for something special versus having to figure out a way to come up with a few thousand dollars  all at once.  The amount of effort required to muster up those thousands of dollars will far exceed the same person who has been consistent week after week

Let's not be the person who is constantly struggling to maintain our goals.  Let's become the type of people who value consistency and the real benefits that come with it.

  1. Thank you for this post!!! Sounds like the internal dialog I have with myself constantly -- glad to know I'm not alone in the struggle.

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