Updated: Feb 9, 2022
Lasting motivation with new habits is incredibly hard to come by. We can start with the absolute best intentions, but the streak is soon lost and we go back to the old habits. This is largely due to the fact that these old habits are so ingrained and easy to fall back on. The idea of 21 days being enough to form a new habit is quickly being disbanded. It has increased to over 66 days and that is far more daunting.
When I discuss motivation with clients, as well as what I personally practice, I focus on the small actionable steps. The initial motivation to lose weight or write a book is enormous. We are inspired by that huge goal that we are going to achieve and all the happiness and fulfillment it will bring. Unfortunately, as we all know, it does not last. We must break apart the final goal into smaller achievable sections. Treat those as your motivational pieces and then build from there. These are simple, consistently overstated, bits of advice. They absolutely work, but what about the dreadful feeling of waking up every morning to go for a run? Or sitting down thinking you have to write an entire chapter? This is where we have to go nearly microscopic.
Do the absolute bare minimum that pushes you to the next step.
If the goal is to run, put on your shoes. After putting on your shoes, open the door. Then step outside and just take 3 steps. By doing these small actions one after the other you put yourself in a position where it seems ridiculous not to start the run. Yes, it is still difficult, but putting on your shoes is not hard. There is something to be said for the mental battle that occurs at the point when you don’t want to put on your shoes because you know what it leads to. I encourage you to take off your shoes. Yup, that's right. Put them on and then take them off! If you really wanna get extra credit, put them back on again. Did that seem ridiculous? It should have. You can do this at every step. Bail, each time. The next day take it one step further and eventually you will get to the step that you cannot bail from and you will start forming that habit.
Start with small steps and build up from there. This is exactly how this blog post was started. Small steps that lead to several paragraphs. You can do it. You are in control. Start small.