This article was last updated on December 29, 2015
You start, you stop. You decide to become fluent in Japanese and after 2 weeks you get buried under files from work and forget about studying. You start working out but, damn, after such a bad day you do deserve a nice slice of pizza, don’t you? You start your business, but decide that it’s too hard. Falling off the wagon is a part of the journey. Unfortunately, the undesirable one. How do you limit its occurrence and increase your chances of success? Here are…
6 Ways To Keep Going When Things Get Rough
1. Why did you start?
We are creatures whose behaviour is always based on the cause and effect relation. We eat because we’re hungry, we sleep when we’re tired and stay away from an iron to avoid getting burnt. It’s simple Math. A stimulus and a reaction. We do EVERYTHING for a reason. So, when it comes to your goals, why are you setting off in the first place? There is no valuable motivational article or book about being consistent without touching upon a subject of WHYS and this one cannot be any different.
Let’s say you want to lose weight. Definitely not because you want to wear a smaller size. You got it right, it’s NOT because of that. It’s because of the emotions connected with being smaller and enjoying wearing skinny jeans. It’s because of the feeling of discomfort when your pants pinch you when you sit. It’s always about emotions. It’s always about how we feel and what relation we see between certain states (both negative and positive ones).
It all goes down to what the emotional state is that you will hopefully get when you reach your goal. Use THAT as your way to keep going, not a phrase that might not evoke any emotions, much less motivate to stay away from the cake in the middle of the night.
2. Use your momentum
One of the most often given pieces of advice you’ll get from coaches is “have a plan and take action towards the realization of it every single day”. The second thing you might hear is “don’t waste your time on the trial and error method”. Fair enough, but that is not always the case. Your plan will never be perfect, it’s just not how it works. You don’t need to have the perfect plan to start. Start right now! And build your momentum, you will improve the plan as you go. And then go,go, go! Untill..
3. You’ll eventually want to stop, thus identify obstacles and prevent them
SUPRISE! An iceberg ahead, all engines stop! And that’s the bummer, your bottleneck. A crisis which takes us to the next point.
What kills your momentum? What are your distractions? In other words, why do you stop?
You can’t fight what you can’t see. Define why you have stopped in the past. Oh, come on, admit it, we’re all guilty of that. We’ve tried something (like learning a new language or practicing meditation) and weren’t persistent enough. It simply wasn’t sustainable. Why? What made you stop? Where did you lose your momentum? Or maybe you should ask yourself: REACTION to WHAT was the loss of the momentum? Was it that you were too stressed because of work and started nibbling at cookies? Was it because of information overload? What kind of EMOTIONS (because it’s always all about the emotions, whether we want it or not) evoked that stop? You can only eliminate or prevent stages you identify. Otherwise it’s just curing the symptoms, not the illness.
4. Can’t promise you’ll succeed if you try. But I can promise you’ll fail if you don’t.
We are all afraid of failure. We are all terrified of not being good enough. It’s always safer to say that we don’t have enough time, that there are more important things to do and as soon as we deal with that pressing stuff (sending all the outstanding emails, calling an electrician, doing the laundry, etc.) we’ll sit down and put our mind to it. We just need to get it all out of our way.
Seriously? Do you really think that there will be time when you’re all clear and nothing’s going to come up? These are just distractions pulling you away from your thing cause you’re afraid of using all you’ve got. Because if you bring it and still fail, it will mean your best isn’t enough. We all can totally refer to that unless we have hidden our hopes so deep under everyday life problems that we don’t even admit their existence to ourselves. It would be irresponsible and foolish to say that you can accomplish anything you want if only you put your mind to it. But it’s the only possible way to get closer to accomplishing those goals. From that point on there are many ways to achieve your goals.
5. Set a short challenge.
And don’t back down. Do you know why it’s so difficult for most of us to be consistent with workouts, diets or, simply, new chores in general? Because we start to realize at one point we’ll have to do it for the rest of our life. And, hell yeah, it’s crushing. We go “Oh, there is no chance I’ll be able to sustain that, I might as well quit right now and spare myself all that pain”.
Forget about the “for the life-time” concept. Do just one “30-day challenge”. You can go for 4 weeks squeezing in 3 workouts into each, can’t you? It’s not a life sentence, it’s just a fun experiment. If you split your goal to smaller goals you will be able to track your results easier. For example if your goal is to lose 60 pounds for a year split it to smaller ones like 5 pounds a month. You will feel closer to your goal every single month and you will feel satisfied rather than being disappointed.
6. Burn the boats
Most of us have heard the story of a Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, whose aim was to plunder the Aztec Empire. After reaching the shore he ordered his people to burn the boats so that they had no other option than winning the fight. Rather extreme, yes, but how effective! Let’s say you want to learn a language. Pay for the exam for the certificate on a higher level than you are in advance. You want to take up jogging. Fine, you’re meeting a friend (or better, an associate!) 3 times in the evening for a run. People we “just know” are so much better because you’ll feel stupid if you bail on them too often. Just as Tonny Robbins says, we don’t get our “shoulds”, we get our “musts”. How can you turn one into another? Leave yourself no choice and you’ll push through. You won’t have any other choice.
There will be times when you fall off the wagon, skip a workout, drink a few beers and forget about reading business books before going to bed. But you can always decrease the number of such slips. Two steps forward, one step back. Depressing? No, because you’re still moving forward.
Photo source: Andrew Barker