A few months back, I found myself involved, in this daily heated conversation with a friend of mine about an issue, that everyone faces almost every January 1st. The new year was almost approaching us and I was determined to join the nearby gym as I had been feeling low and in a desperate need of some good exercises. She, on the other side, convinced that I am about to jump on a ‘new year new me’ bandwagon, like everyone else. Her argument was, ‘almost everyone makes new year resolutions and fails to keep them!’. Therefore, I should not waste my money. (She was just being ‘realistic’). And I kept convincing her that, this is not going to be a one-time thing. I want it to be part of my life. Like a daily routine!
It kept going on and it was exhausting. It was like a typical couple arguing day in day out where both parties try to bring forth the best argument to hit each other with.
And (un)fortunately, that friend of mine was.. my own self.
I hate to admit but she was right. Failing to keep a resolution is indeed a fact. I break almost all of them every year. Honestly, I’ve never given much thought about resolutions or even changing myself like this before. Regardless of knowing, habit is a pattern of behaviors and it is actually the breaking of patterns that break the habit itself. I was both incredulous and apprehensive that this breaking of a pattern that I actually intend to achieve, or hopeful to achieve might not work out.
Why do we fail? Why do we flounder so much to try to stick to that promise that we made to ourselves on New year’s eve? These flying f’s (jokes!!) kept me awake for a decent amount of time. I also knew that the internet is full of pertinent articles. I was just a search away to find out. But I didn’t.
Fast Forward those few months, I hit the gym at 8 in the morning 5 days a week for almost a month now. Even if I miss my gym day due to any reason, I do it at home. Being a sloth I used to be, it was a miracle to even complete a week. But I did it anyway.
How did I do it? What was missing all those years that I missed every time? Let’s discuss them now. Many of you might already be familiar with them but maybe don’t have a direction? So, Let me help you. This article is not intended to motivate you. It is just about sharing my experience and strategies that I try to practice every single day.
What you are about to read below is all my own work. I did NOT read all those articles on the internet and I certainly do not wish my article to turn it into those ‘pertinent’ ones that we usually find on the internet. Lets deep dive into it. Shall we?
1. List Your Breakdowns:-
It is a fancy word. One of the many amazing things about lists is that you can play with it and come up with your own words. I could have written ‘List your horrible habits’ or ‘List the things that you wanna trash in 2019!’. But since, I basically suffer because of these habits almost every day. I preferred the term ‘Breakdowns’. But you can add your own words. After all, it is going to be your own list.
The breakdown could be anything. You could list 100 more breakdowns and still not include the one thing that you actually need to work on. Honestly, you don’t need to look anywhere else but your own self. The only trick is, you need to be super real and honest with yourself if you are not sure what to write. Often, the solution is much smaller than we think.
So, for example, in my case, I knew that I am a lazy person and that exercise is something that I need to include to stay active. I noticed that when I feel energetic, I behave in a way that makes me happier. I don’t feel exhausted and frustrated. I take time for the things that I actually enjoy doing. It elevates my mood and I feel positive about myself which certainly is good for my mental health too. It is a virtuous cycle. So maybe, like joining the gym, is the one thing I can do to take really good care of myself. Therefore, I wrote ‘I am a sloth’ as my breakdown. Notice that I haven’t assigned any number as of yet and you will know why in my next point.
The tricky part. At this point, you have the list of the breakdowns with you and the reasons of having them in your life. You must think that each one of them is to be addressed. All of them would seem important to you and they sure are. That’s where I stopped myself (And you should too).
‘Don’t rush and think through!. I instructed myself. If you start working on all of them, you wouldn’t be able to focus and what you want would become a wish again (which I can’t afford this year!).’
I thought about prioritization. But how do I prioritize this list? It totally depends on the vision. Where do I see myself, say, in 3 months? What items I would want to cross out in next [insert time period here] from this list. Assigning each breakdown a number, will help you to 1) Pick the most important issue to be addressed first 2) Find ways to improve them and 3) In how much time you will be able to achieve what you intend to achieve.
You could also dedicate each item a month if you want to stay focused. Researches do indicate that it takes almost 2 months to develop a certain habit. It is up to you how you want to take things up.
3. Mapping Breakdowns into Breakthroughs:-
The breakthrough, is what I would say, is to ‘Blow your own mind’. It is the greatest version of yourself. It is tempting when you read it this way. What we often forget, is the journey and the enormous amount of patience and commitment that it takes to get there. What we lack is the reality. It is not going to magically vanish. We need to plan it. Work on it. Stick to it. This is where the term ‘Inspiration gap’ could be tossed. You read something motivational or watch a video and you rush to things without having to think about it. Somewhere down the lane, you lose interest. Here comes the horrible reality check: MAGIC DOESN’T EXIST. Stupid Linda Stupid!
In all seriousness, Mapping is really easy. What you need is to follow the three R’s!
- Rephrase your ‘Breakdowns’ into a positive sentence:
Researches show that by reforming negative thoughts (or in our case a negative sentence) into a positive one makes it much easier to achieve a goal. So, I wrote ‘I’m an active individual’ as my breakthrough #1 against a point ‘I’m a sloth’. Notice, that I only changed the word that makes it a negative sentence. The impact of it is huge. You will know once you start.
- Research how to achieve your breakthrough:
This is where you need to be extra vigilant. There is a lot of information on the internet. Loads of books and materials that you would find there. I am sure you will get lost. What you should do here is to pick only that information that you actually need. List them down in your column of ‘steps to achieve my breakthrough’.
- Repeat the breakthrough:
Last, is to keep repeating the sentence that we transformed into a positive sentence above. Words are extremely powerful and an affirmative sentence is ultra-powerful. Repetition helps as you train your subconscious mind to believe in that sentence and automate the process of repeating a pattern to develop any habit. It is really important to repeat the sentence with attention and faith.
For some, it would seem dubious. But for me, it was worth a try!
4. Plan Smart Grow Smart:-
The fun part. You might want to buy a planner here. I didn’t buy it but I created a planner in a word file. This is for the purpose of keeping yourself in check and on your toes all the time. What I did, I break a single breakthrough into multiple small, achievable breakthroughs. Each week I have to follow the same routine (steps to achieve my breakthrough) stuff. I tick mark against each task at the end of every day. At the end of a week, I check if I follow the plan correctly and where do I need to improve.
This is how I plan to achieve breakthroughs smartly. I also celebrate myself once I am finished through the week. Celebrating your small accomplishments are super important. It will boost your motivation so that you can start your next week more energetically and enthusiastically.
5. The Dot:-
Understand the concept of ‘The dot’ by considering this simple sentence. You draw a dot on a map to mark your next desired destination. It is where you want to go.
Now, take the above example as a metaphor. The dot is the ‘future you’. This dot is where the final, greatest version of yourself is. You must travel to get there and during this journey of yours, you will face certain obstacles along the way but if you keep yourself committed and remain patient, you will reach there eventually. Always keep in mind, the bigger picture and why you started in the first place and never ever forget to respect your journey. This is necessary because there will not be a single day that goes by when you just want to go back to your previous routine. Quitting would seem easy. When you keep reminding yourself about the dot, it will help you to get past this phase.
Nothing is easy. Honestly, I sometimes tell myself ‘That’s It! I’m tapping out!’. I always find myself this close to quitting. But I am not a quitter and the above points do help me to get back up again. And it is exciting too. To test yourself and how much you can push yourself to grow?
There will be times when you want to slow down. Do it! Slow down. Recharge yourself and start again. I hope this article will at least give you a direction, if not completely help you. The point is to start and be real with yourself. Every day should be your January 1st!