Have you ever made a decision that starts off with a bang but quickly fizzles out?
I have. Truth is, most of us have.
We decide to eat better, get into shape, meditate daily – and we feel totally pumped in the beginning. For the first few days, we blissfully pack salads for lunch, hit the gym like crazy and download a bunch of meditation apps.
This time IS the time that those exciting changes are going to stick…for good.
But then, for whatever reason, our skyrocketing enthusiasm fades and trips us up. We fall off track and never seem to follow-through with what we started.
So, what gives?
The biggest stumbling block – when it comes to creating habits that stick – is failing to plan the process.
Successfully creating any new habit requires consistency, and planning your process – the actions you’re going to take and when you’re going to take them – in advance, mentally and emotionally prepares you to stay consistent with your efforts, even after the initial excitement wears off.
What makes a good plan?
A rock solid, unshakable, habit-creating plan consists of these three things:
- What you’re going to do.
- When you’re going to do it.
- And what you’re going to do when you hit the inevitable rough patch.
Number three is often the most overlooked, BUT it’s also the most valuable.
In order to make your habits stick – long-term – you’ve got to get creative and jot down any and every rough patch that might stand in your way and cause you to quit – peer pressure from friends, lack of time, your own thoughts and emotions – whatever you’ve struggled with in the past or anticipate wrestling with in the future.
Because here’s the thing, when obstacles and setbacks show up (and they will) or when things get hard, uncomfortable and boring (and they will), knowing exactly how you’re going to deal with those challenges, prepares you to actually deal with them when the time comes.
In a nutshell, having a plan eliminates a whole lot of uncertainty and it’s the ONE thing that’ll keep your habits on a long lasting track.
Here’s an example of what my plan might look like if I wanted to workout consistently to form an exercise habit:
My Exercise Plan
(#1) What I’m Going To Do & (#2) When I’m Going To Do It
- Buy new Nikes and yoga pants this Saturday
- Try Core Power Yoga this Sunday at 10am and ask about package prices
- Download the SWORKIT app for cool at home workout ideas – and try the 5 minute ab workout tonight
- Add Monday, Wednesday and Friday at-home cardio sessions and Tuesday and Thursday strength training sessions to my weekly calendar at 8am
- Call Rachel and see if she’s available for a private yoga session next Monday
- Ask Nicole if she wants to do a spin class next week
(#3) Obstacles – How I’m Going To Stay On Track
- If work gets in the way and I’m way too tired to hit the gym: I’ll go for a short, relaxing walk outside or do some simple stretching
- When Monica invites me over for impromptu drinks and I haven’t worked out yet: I’ll tell her that I can meet her later, after my workout or another night
- If I just don’t feel like doing 30 minutes of cardio: I’ll just do an easy 10 or 15 minutes and see how I feel after that
- When I go on vacation to visit Tania: I’ll do a 20 or 30 minute SWORKIT every day and scout out the nearest gyms & yoga studios
- If I get sick: I’ll give my body the rest it needs and get back on my plan as soon as I’m feeling better
This plan gives me a clear roadmap, with the exact steps I need to take to build my exercise habit and handle the rough patches that will undoubtedly come up.
So, go ahead and create YOUR plan!
Once you have it, resolve to stick with it for at least three months…then in just 90 days, you’ll see how much easier it was to make lasting changes once you had an organized plan.
And as always, I’d love to hear from you! What one habit or practice do you want to do more consistently? What rough patch usually trips you up?
Conversation sparks inspiration so leave a comment below.