It’s time for a James Clear reproduction! Here are 7 strategies for bouncing back when you slip up.
We’ve all been there…
You follow your diet religiously for a week and then break it with a weekend binge. You commit to working out more, hit the gym for two days, and then struggle to get off the couch after a long day of work. You set a vision for your career and get excited by the possibilities, only to get dragged down in everyday responsibilities.
These small hiccups don’t make you a failure, they make you human.
There will always be instances when following your regular routine is basically impossible. You don’t need superhuman willpower, you just need strategies that can pull you back on track.
Here are seven strategies that you can use to get back on track right now…
- Schedule your habits into your life.
Give your habits a specific space in your life. There are two main options.
Option 1: Put it on your calendar.
Want to get back on track with your writing schedule? Put in your weekly calendar.
Want to bounce back with your exercise habit? Put in your weekly calendar.
Option 2: Tie it to your current behaviour.
Not all of your habits will fit a specific time frame, but they all should have a trigger that acts as a reminder to do them.
Want to floss? Everyday after brushing your teeth. Same order, same way, every time.
The bottom line is this: getting specific gives you a reason and a reminder to get back on track.
- Stick to your schedule, even in small ways.
It’s not the individual impact of missing your schedule that’s a big deal. It’s the cumulative impact of never getting back on track. If you miss one workout, you don’t suddenly feel more out of shape than you were before.
For that reason, it’s critical to stick to your schedule, even if it’s only in a very small way.
Don’t have enough time to do a full workout? Just squat.
Don’t have enough time to write an article? Write a paragraph.
Individually, these behaviours seem pretty insignificant. But the cumulative impact of always sticking to your schedule will carry you to long–term success.
Find a way to stick to the schedule, no matter how small it is.
- Have someone who expects something of you.
If you have been on a team, you know what happens when you have friends, teammates, and coaches expecting you to be at practice? You show up.
But you don’t have to be on a team to make this work. Talk to strangers and make friends in the gym. Simply knowing that a familiar face expects to see you can be enough to get you to show up.
- Focus on what you can work with.
We waste so much time focusing on what is withheld from us.
Anytime we don’t do the things we want to do — start a business, eat healthy, go to the gym — we come up with excuses…
“I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have the right contacts. I don’t have enough experience.”
Think instead: “I can work with this.”
Because you can. The truth is that most of us start in the same place — no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience — but some people (the winners) choose to get started anyway.
It’s not easy, but your life will be better if you choose to feel uncomfortable and make progress, rather than complain and make excuses. Shift your focus from what is withheld from you to what is available to you.
- Just because it’s not optimal, doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial.
It’s so easy to get hung up on doing things the optimal way and end up preventing yourself from doing them at all.
Just because you can’t stick to the optimal schedule, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stick to it at all. Good habits are built gradually. Start slow, live your life, and get better along the way.
- Design your environment for success.
You do not need more motivation or more willpower to stick to your goals.
Motivation is a fickle beast. Some days you feel inspired. Some days you don’t. If you want consistent change do not rely on something inconsistent.
Most of us acknowledge that the people who surround us influence our behaviour, but the items that surround us have an impact as well. The signs we see, the things that are on your desk at work, the pictures hanging on your wall at home … these are all pieces of our environment that can trigger us to take different actions.
When I wanted to start flossing consistently, one of the most useful changes I made was taking the floss out of the drawer and keeping it next to my toothbrush on the counter. The visual cue of seeing the floss every time I brushed my teeth meant that I didn’t have to remember to pull it out of the drawer.
With this simple environment change, I didn’t need more motivation or willpower.
It sounds so simple, but make sure that the habits that you’re trying to stick to are actually important to you.
Sometimes forgetting your habit is a sign that it’s not that important to you.
It’s remarkable how much time people spend chasing things that they don’t really care about. Then, when they don’t achieve them, they beat themselves up and feel like a failure for not achieving something that wasn’t important to them all along.
You only have so much energy to put towards the next 24 hours. Pick a habit that you care about. If it really matters to you, then you’ll find a way to make it work.
This whole piece has essentially been a close-to-verbatim reproduction of a James Clear writ on similar topic I chanced upon last week.
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Have a lovely week!
Maxwell Ampong is the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Trading and Business Solutions provider. He is also the Business Advisor for the General Agricultural Workers’ Union of TUC (Gh). He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.