Achieve your goals or how to start your unstoppable streak
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Fitting (in my opinion) for the first weeks of 2019 as people are already giving up on their infamous New Year’s resolution list.
I want to start the blog with a three-part series about achieving goals or how I much rather frame it “how to start an unstoppable streak”. The first part will cover the most important part – the mental aspects. In the second part, I will present methodologies to set proper goals. In the last part, I want to give an overview of tools that can help adapt to your new habit.
Same old, same old
Everyone knows this drill. You watch a TED video, a TV series, a Youtube video or in most cases the year is ending and suddenly we feel super inspired to learn a something new pick up a new language, quit smoking, lose some pounds. The list goes on. Afterward, we buy the necessary equipment (if required) and passionately start with our new set goal for a couple of weeks and then. NOTHING happens. You stop working towards your goal, which leaves, besides the wasted time and money, more important a very unsatisfiable feeling. You failed again. Worst case, in the future you will right away abandon the idea to try something out.
A quote that perfectly summarizes this process and you always should keep in your mind.
“Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going.”
– Jim Ryun US politcian
Not that I want to help you justify it that you just recently gave up on your goal, but from a science standpoint (although it’s only one study), the odds are against us.
According to a study in 2009, we need on average 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic with individual times varying from 18 days to 254 days. As we all know, falling out of it only requires a few days.
Everything is bad, huh?
Wait, wait, wait…not everything is bad, that you are willing to try to improve or learn something is a good thing, so let’s start here. It means that you are willing to learn, want to develop, experience new things, change bad habits.
The important question that every lifestyle website has an article about:
“How do I achieve a satisfying result?”
And as someone, who tried sooo many things and also gave up more than even things, but finally after years of failure, started getting traction in all the new things I want to learn and do, I am basically doing. To name a few things that are solid pillars in my daily life: learning vocabulary, waking up early, read books.
The problem of your old mindset
The problem in a lot of people’s cases is that we let something external be an excuse that you could not do it.
A common example, that everyone should be somehow familiar. Your goal is to go run every morning. Now, on a Monday morning, it’s raining and it is freezing outside. Now you think, you can’t possibly go running in these conditions. Let’s go tomorrow. Let’s go another time. Now, what happens is that you are not running every morning. You go run, whenever you can go run.
And I argue, that this a completely wrong mindset. When you can, more often than not means: when things feel comfortable, when you have a good mood. We all had/have this mindset or inner narrative that justifies things, why we could not do certain things. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It might be a protection mechanism of our mind to not let us get depressed easily.
When are we usually giving up
And when we don’t ever face a hard time, we do fairly well, where we falter, is when we feel stressed when we have a bad day when you face hard times. The simple reason is, that it needs the discipline to overcome the critical moments. And discipline is a finite resource in our minds and varies from person to person.
What your mindset should be
This brings to a formula that became my mantra over the years, which I will unravel in this series.
A method + Consistency + Time = A Result
The words consistency in the formula is tightly connected with the word mindset. You need the correct mindset to achieve consistency. There is a widely used phrase that people take to the heart: “Let nothing stop you.” Unfortunately, I think it incorporates a mental loophole, it lets you automatically think about external things that stop you. But we do not need to bullshit ourselves here, in reality, the only thing that can stop you is YOU.
Internalize external factors
What really helped me, was to change the phrase in “what will you let stop you”. It is a subtle change, but it changes everything. It switches the focus on yourself rather on the externalization and mitigates the problems I alluded in the previous paragraphs.
If you are facing hard times and have thoughts that you should not do because you are tired. You should try to see this from the opposite angle and flip the other way. If you do it even when you are facing hard times, it is even better, it gives you more satisfaction. Further, don’t try to think about why should not do, think about why you should do it.
And I know there will be the super outlier that makes it so damn hard and you cannot do it in full capacity. Try to think about that way, not doing in the proper way is a mistake, but not doing it all is an even bigger mistake. Try to think about how you can do it and not why are not doing.
In my opinion, you have to be really strict about your new habit. The three day rule of effective habits says if you take a break that extends 3 days. It is no longer a break. It’s a pattern. It goes along the lines:
One day is a breather.
Two days are a break.
Three days are new pattern.
Personally, the three day rule of effective habits does not work for me. I have to be very strict about my new habit and make no exceptions. Consequently, people often ask me:
“Why are you so strict about your regiment?”
“Is someone controlling you?”
“Are you competing against someone?”
And my answer is yes, I do compete against someone. I compete against the person I want to be. And the guy I want to outrun is the person I could have been. I surmise that this incorporates on a basic level the same principles of the mentality that drive modern athletes like Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Lebron James. Although they are already arguably considered all-time greats, they still keep going. Grinding it out each and every day.
Strengthen your mentality and start your unstoppable streak
Let’s face it, life does not give you a linear path. It’s not sunny every day with no traffic and perfectly made eggs every morning.
What I just described is not life, it’s a television show or a script. Life or success in life is about overcoming adversity. See it from this perspective. Now, everytime you overcome adversity, you did it even when in the past you didn’t. You achieved something that you never achieved before. Arriving at this stage will only strengthen your mentality. It will make you feel satisfied and strive for more at the same time.
The mentality is a muscle it needs time, training, endurance to manifest itself. By overcoming hard times, you have proven to yourself, that you can do it. Do something that you’ve never done before. Day by day, you build up your streak. It is the beginning of your unstoppable streak.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (Link)