Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Time and time again, it happens. People come out of the gate blazing, riding the high of starting something new, and as things get tough and the energy dwindles, so does their ability to stick with it.
A few weeks in the ambition and goal is all but a distant memory and they are back to the same old routine, stuck in their ways and not getting what they want.
This basically sums up 99% of New Years Resolutions – and we don't want to be those people, so let's not.
Now that you have a few days behind you, it's worth turning our attention to habits. After all, that's what getting up at 4:30AM to create space is all about.
While most people focus on goals – the "where you want to go" – it's habits that will get you there and it's where most of your energy should be spent. Once you dial in the right habits, life becomes so much simpler.
Why we so frequently fail
Most people suck at habits not because they actually suck at habits, but because the environment and structure around them sucks.
They don't want to drink, but their friends drink, so they end up having a few OR they know they'd be better off going to the gym than binge watching Netflix, but their remote is more accessible than their gym shoes, so they end up on the couch.
What's worse, these bad habits created by bad environments create a self-reinforcing negative loop. They lead to the belief that we suck at creating good habits. Then things get difficult and we buy into that, losing our will to keep going. We stumble and fail and this reinforces our belief that we can't do it. The whole thing spirals back to where it began and we end up back on the couch binge watching Friends and spoon feeding ourselves ice cream, rather than getting to the gym.
So, how do you fix this?
(And bring a little faith back into yourself)
You fix this by creating the right environment for yourself to succeed. This isn't done by making big changes, but rather a bunch of small ones that keep build on each other and keep you coming back.
1. Start super small.
We have this ability to downplay what it takes to accomplish our big goals, yet overestimate the effort it takes to overcome a series of small goals. It’s the consistency of chasing and accomplishing tiny goal after tiny goal that will get you where you want to go.
Starting small helps change the narrative. Small wins build up little proof points that you can create good habits. Start showing (and telling) yourself you can accomplish this, past failures don't matter, and despite temporary setbacks, you're going to succeed.
Then make the habits so easy you can't possibly fail. This helps create a positive reinforcing narrative and builds momentum. It also builds trust with yourself.
If you want to form a habit of writing – form the habit of writing 5 sentences.
If you want to form a habit of running – form a habit of getting your shoes on and running for a minute.
If you want to form a habit of meditation – form a habit of sitting in a chair silently for 30 seconds.
Set the bar for success as low as you can, make sure you nail it again and again, and go from there.
2. Progress gradually.
Starting small might seem silly, but keep in mind that your doing so to prove that you can do this. From there, you'll gradually add more. Move from five sentences to 10 – from one minute to two. Keep focused on building the routine and let the gradual increases become your new normal.
3. Go All In.
We have a simple rule at Chasing Sunrise and it goes like this: no f*cking maybes. It's a little harsh, but so many times we straddle, half in-half out, neither fulling embracing something or moving on to the next. That ain't no way to live.
If you have a habit that will get you to where you want to be in life, it's worth going all in on. And if you're not sure you have the confidence, just remind yourself that if you believed in Santa for 8 years, you can believe in yourself for at least 21 days.
4. Create Social Accountability.
You've seen this one work already. The power of having people hold you accountable is something else. Tell people you’re going to do your new habit and ask them to hold you accountable. Hell, maybe even set up a consequence for not pulling through.
Having people you are accountable to not only holds you to it, but allows you to go through the fire with other people – in this case, hundreds of others.
5. Create Structure & (Unmissable) Reminders.
If you allow yourself to ask if you should do your habit each day, you're giving yourself the opportunity to skip out. Create a structure that doesn't give you the choice. Complete your habit at the same time each day (say 4:30AM), without question.
To remind yourself make your reminders absolutely unmissable. Have it taped to your toothbrush or print out a life sized version of yourself holding up a sign. Whatever you have to do, make sure it's there every day and absolutely unmissable.
6. Keep notes & check-in.
Most people dive into creating habits and then rely on their memory to remember how it's going. We end up with a cluttered mess of recall and aren't actually sure what worked. As you begin to incorporate good habits, take some time to keep notes throughout the date. Write down what you notice, what's hard, what's easy, what helps and what doesn't.
Then, at least once a week, go through your notes and see how the habit has been going. Have you been sticking to it? Failing? What’s helping? What’s not?
Doing this frequently helps you understand the environment you’re in and how it effects you. It'll let you make small tweaks frequently and get better, faster.
7. Listen to yourself.
You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you aren't paying attention to how it works for you, it's useless.
Paying attention and mindfulness are two of the most powerful tools in building habits. Pay attention to when you have the urge to procrastinate or pick up your phone and distract yourself (it's totally normal and okay to have these distractions). Pay attention to how your mind tries to rationalize what it's doing (we're masters at this) and remind yourself why your habits are important and what they sticking to them will give you.
8. Just Enjoy it.
This is something most people skip. They get so focused on the habit and the work behind it that it becomes a chore they need to do before they move on to the next thing.
Not only will your life continue to feel like a hamster wheel, but you'll eventually get burned out and give up.
Change your perspective to look at these habits as an opportunity to learn. It's some time to focus on yourself, do something that matters to you, and inch yourself closer to what you want in life.
Take a few minutes every time your building a new habit and remind yourself why you're doing it, why it matters, and enjoy the fact that you're working on it.
With that in mind, it's time to get to it.
– The end.
Oh, and for getting all the way down here, here's some mellow morning vibes.