The road to greatness is rarely smooth, and over the course of 56 Days of Giving It All, you’re bound to come across some things that make the daily task you’ve committed to feel a little challenging.
This is only natural. Big changes, even when broken down into small, doable steps, require that we change and grow, and sometimes change is difficult. But what matters as you build your Streak over the next couple months is that you face any obstacles that come your way head-on and refuse to let them stop your progress.
We’re here to help you throughout the course of this challenge, so today we’d like to explore some of the biggest things that tend to trip people up when they’re trying to instill new habits, like you’re doing with your daily task. Knowing what you’re up against is half the battle, and hopefully these tips will make it easier for to you to go over, around and through the obstacles that might emerge on your path.
1. Not Having Enough Time
We’ve covered this one before, but it’s worth examining again, because being “too busy” is one of the biggest complaints many of us have about our modern lives.
The thing about time is that we all have the same amount of it. Whether we’re executives or artists or working parents, we’re all only given 24 hours a day, and how we choose to spend those hours says a lot about our priorities.
When you think about the things that matter the most to you — friends and family top the list for most people, so we’ll use that example — you realize you often find ways to make room for these things in your schedule, even if time seems tight. You go to bed an hour late so you can read your kids a bedtime story. You work overtime for a while so you can take a few days off for an out-of-town wedding. You don’t worry about “having the time” for these things; you decide to make the time.
Your daily step is something you’ve committed to doing because you know it will make your life better. And whatever it is, likely doesn’t take up an unreasonable amount of time (we’re guessing no more than half an hour to an hour, max). If you look hard, you can find room somewhere in your schedule for this, knowing that it’s something that will improve your life and make you happier.
2. Feeling Overwhelmed
When most of us set a goal, we have grand visions of what it will look like when we complete it. We’ll be happier, healthier, prettier, more successful… whatever the result, it looms large in our mind and seems very impressive.
This is great because it can inspire us to keep moving forward towards that goal — but it’s also bad, because when we think of all the steps it will take to get there, they can seem overwhelming.
The key to sticking to a new habit is to focus not on how far it will take to reach your goal, but on what you can do right now, today, to get just a little bit closer. Maybe you want to run a marathon, but for right now, the only thing you need to focus on is running X miles. Run those X miles the best you can, and don’t worry about the miles yet to go.
Progress will happen if you consistently work towards it. Just worry about doing what you can today; in the end, that’s all you can do, anyway.
3. Being Afraid of Failure
Saying you’d like to lose 15 pounds or write a book is one thing; actually committing to doing it is another. Ideas in our head are lovely because they can be as pretty as we’d like to imagine, but when you get down to the reality of actually bringing these ideas to life, there’s always the chance they may not turn out as great as we imagine.
And that can be scary. But the worst regrets of all aren’t the things we didn’t do as well as we would have like; they’re the things we never tried in the first place.
So you aim to lose 15 pounds, and you only wind up losing 10. Guess what? You’ve still made progress.
So your book doesn’t make it to the New York Times bestseller list. Guess what? You’ve managed to write a book (which is something not many people can say!), and the next time you write one, you’ll be starting off with valuable experience and feedback.
Even if things don’t turn out exactly the way you envisioned them, you’ll know that you gave it your all. There’s a lot of value in that.
4. Negative Peer Pressure
Whenever you try to make a change in your life, there will inevitably be people who want to share their opinion about it with you.
Sometimes they mean well, like your mother who says, “Well, I hope you can stick to it this time” when you tell her you’re going to finally get serious about working out.
Sometimes they don’t, like your coworkers who tease you for having a salad at your desk while everyone else is munching on pizza in the break room.
But whatever other people think about your goal, it’s only what you think about it that really matters at the end of the day. Remember the reason you decided to do this in the first place. Zero in on that, and let the crowd noise fall away into the background. When you knock it out of the park, they’ll be singing a different tune, anyway.
5. Lack of Motivation
Some days you just plain don’t feel like doing your daily task. Maybe you didn’t sleep well the night before, maybe you had a long day at work, maybe you just feel “off” for some reason. Motivation can be a powerful driving force, and when it’s lacking, it makes your task feel extra difficult.
Fortunately for you, you can still do your task whether you “feel like it” or not. We do it all the time with things we consider non-negotiables, like going to work, cleaning the house or taking our dog for a walk. We don’t always feel super-inspired to do these things (depending on your situation, you may never feel super-inspired to do these things), and yet you are able to do them.
Go ahead and make your daily task one of those non-negotiable in your mind. Try to summon the motivation back again if you can, by remembering why you wanted to build a Streak and how your life will be improved once you’ve reached the end of your 56 days. You may find that missing motivation surges back to boost you up.
But if it doesn’t? Put your head down, resolve to honor the commitment you’ve made to yourself, and just make it happen. Each time you do, the next time will be easier.
Image source: The U.S. Army