3 Tested Ways to Eliminate Friction in Developing a Sustainable Habit
It is relatively easier to start the journey when you know where your path will lead.
New habits are hard to develop because they require the sacrifice of old behavioural patterns. But, when you feel fed up with your current lifestyle, your mind forces you to eventually bolt your butt out of the chair to get some long overdue change for good.
When I started my first fitness challenge in 2019, I went to the gym for group workouts. Then the first wave of you-know-who hit in March 2020, and I shifted to personal training on Zoom.
Now that I’ve learnt a lot about fitness in the past two years of working out with a personal trainer, I wanted to test a self-guided fitness routine to bless my bank balance.
I’m on day 90 of my 100 days self-paced fitness challenge when writing this article. Here are three ways I motivate myself to show up every day unless it doesn’t feel like I’m going to war with myself.
Steal my recipe if you are stuck on incorporating a new, overdue habit that has the potential to transform your lifestyle.
#1. Reduce the gap between present and future.
Visualising your future is a powerful technique I didn’t know before practising it in meditation.
A clear image of where you want to be at a specific time in the future helps you design your efforts today. It is relatively easier to start the journey when you know where your path will lead. The sense of certainty develops a sense of security and boosts self-confidence.
My goal on day 100 is to develop enough self-accountability that my mind gravitates me to the gym without anyone’s help. Today is day 90, and I’m still pumping for the next ten days.
#2. Find your way around temptations.
You know where you want to arrive, but your old habits will stand in your way.
Breaking the chain of old habits is challenging because our brain surrenders to the path of least resistance. Acknowledging this fact is the first step to controlling your temptations.
My self-guided fitness challenge is complementing multiple habits along the way. A few of them are:
- Daily meditation
- Daily journaling
- Cigarette detox
- Sleep management
To quell temptations, find a less unhealthy alternative than your previous habits.
For example, I toned down to passive smoking in the first few weeks instead of going cold turkey in my detox journey. Now even passive smoking has become medieval for me, as nicotine withdrawal symptoms don’t erupt like a blast from the past.
#3. Track your growth.
In your habit development journey, often you’ll lose heart when even a single day doesn’t go according to your plan. Those days we need enough courage to finish the day with a positive mindset.
Tracking your progress shows how far you have come. It shows the mountain of achievements you’ve built with relentless grit and patience.
“Progress is the ultimate motivation.”
— Tony Robbins
When we see our progress, it motivates us to push ourselves even on the worst days.
For example, I track my fitness journey by sharing my Instagram story daily about my workout.
If I don’t feel like crawling to the gym on any random day, I scroll down the archives of my IG stories and get inspired about how I showed up in the past, even when the weather was not supportive. Once I went running in the rain. Not only running, once I went cycling in the rain for 20 kilometres. That’s how much I love cardio in nature’s lap.
A daily streak is the simplest way to measure your progress. And since it has worked perfectly for me for the last three years, I don’t recommend any other method that is more effortless than simply making a tick mark on your calendar before bedtime.
I had no idea I would survive day 90 without feeling exhausted. The almighty negativity bias played games to contain me in my comfort zone.
The moment you get fed up with your current situation is a sign that you are ready to take the one step in the right direction. The desire to start is directly proportional to your desperation for change. Your mind has brought you here with priceless courage and resilience. Do it a favour and give it the gift of self-improvement born from self-awareness.
While getting the first rep will be hard, half of the job is about showing up to generate enough momentum. Once you are in the action mode, the inertia of motion takes care of everything.
I can’t wait to break the gym for the next ten days and finally scream happy tears to the Universe from the top of my terrace on day 100. I hope the security guards don’t throw me out.
Here is a recap for you to generate enough momentum that you stop only when you’re done with your goal, not when you’re tired.
- Visualise your future for clarity.
- Adopt less unhealthy ways to control your temptations.
- Track your progress for autonomous motivation.
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Sanjeev is a mentor, writer, and fitness enthusiast from India. He writes about lifelong learning, health, and positive psychology. When he’s not engaging with students or writing articles, he’s sweating in a workout, PC gaming or playing 8-ball pool. You can also find him on Twitter and Instagram.