The Only Habit That Will Change Your Life – Today I’m going to tell you a story that might sound familiar to you. Jack and Jill went up the hill to get a pail of water. Jack felt down and broke his crown and sued the owner of the hill, and his personal injury attorney got him a big settlement…oh wait, wrong story. Okay, here we go.
Meet Nancy. Lately Nancy has been feeling generally unhappy with life; there seems to be all these things she wants, but they’re just not happening for her. She wants that promotion at work. She wants to eat healthier. She wants to go to the gym more. She wants more energy. Things that we all want! The list seems overwhelming to Nancy, though.
She begins to feel kinda bad about herself, and starts overeating, having anxiety, and laying awake at night thinking about all these things that seem so out of reach. There goes the healthy eating and energy, she thinks. Nancy becomes grumpy and mopey, and dopey and doc, and all the other dwarves — and takes it out on some of her friends, family, and co-workers.
There goes the promotion, she says to herself. Now Nancy feels even worse, like she’s in a vicious cycle she’ll never get out of. But you know what? One day Nancy realized that enough was enough, and decided to make a change. She wrote down all her goals, and even began to get excited, feeling a burst of energy that she hadn’t felt in a long time! Nancy decided to jump in with both feet, and meet all of her goals at once with her new found motivation.
She started going to the gym every day after work. She started eating huge salads for nearly every meal. She began to take on more responsibility at work. Nancy started smiling more and began to feel good about herself! BUT…soon Nancy started feeling overwhelmed again. Her new, heavier workload at the office and going to the gym after work every day was exhausting for her.
When she got home, she didn’t feel like taking the time to put together that jumbo salad, and it was getting boring anyway. So Nancy opted to go out for some fast food, or eat that whole bag of potato chips, which is what she really wanted anyway. Plus, she’d been working so hard – she deserved a break, right? The cycle began again.
Instead of seeing the number on the scale go down, Nancy saw it go up, or stay the same. Nancy wasn’t seeing the results that she wanted from the gym either, and started skipping days here and there. And more energy?? Forget about it! Nancy felt even lower on energy than she did in the beginning, before she wrote down her goals.
Since she had no energy, she wasn’t performing at work. So where did Nancy go wrong? No it wasn’t the seven dwarfs…. Nancy didn’t have true commitment to her goals. She wanted fast, instantly gratifying results. She overwhelmed herself by trying to do too much all at the same time, and ended up taking steps backward instead of forward.
So the big question is: What should Nancy have done differently? If you have some big goals, especially if you have several at once, take a step back. Make sure you’re really committed to put in the work, and to be patient with getting results. Be willing to accept that you’re probably not going to achieve your goals overnight– the time must be put in. This is the first place where Nancy went wrong – she expected big results in a small amount of time.
Instead, give yourself smaller goals to reach first. Let’s take the example of the gym. First, decide what’s doable for you – how many nights after work are you okay with going to the gym? What’s a reasonable goal to set for yourself? Let’s say you decide on two times a week – Monday and Friday. Really stick to this goal.
Do it until it just becomes part of your life; it should be second nature, like showering every day. Soon the action of working out will turn into a habit. This is what you want! When you reach this point, add in one more day at the gym. Say, Wednesday; so you’re now going to the gym three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
That’s huge! So before, Nancy wasn’t going to the gym at all, or on a consistent basis. Then she committed to a very manageable, twice a week regimen – that more than doubled her output! Going to the gym twice a week meant that Nancy was going to the gym 8 times a month. Just adding one more day a week increases this to 12 times a month! It may not seem like it, but that’s a huge increase! This logic can be applied to any goal! It doesn’t just apply to fitness goals.
Small goal + commitment = habit. Habit + increased small goal + commitment = achieved goal! Writing down your goal, and the smaller goals you set to achieve it, can be helpful too. So what happened to Nancy? She branched out her goals and applied true commitment to each step. Nancy feels a sense of accomplishment, like she’s getting somewhere; she no longer feels mopey and down in the dumps.
She feels happier and lighter; she can handle her anxiety and is smiling a lot more. Her sense of accomplishment has given her a huge confidence boost too, and that’s important here as well. Sometimes, that surge of energy you feel after you’ve achieved something is confidence! Nancy’s energy level is through the roof! Nancy knows she isn’t perfect, and that’s okay! I mean, who has perfect, unwavering commitment and can take a straight-lined path to their goal? Not very many people – we’re human, after all.
Nancy’s path – and probably your path – has some right turns, left turns, and zigzags. She has accepted that meeting her goals will take time and patience. Now, Nancy is happy with life and knows that she can accomplish anything with the right method, and so can you! Just do it the right way so that you’re not overwhelmed – which can set you back and make you feel discouraged.
Confidence is also a key part of this equation. It’s like a meme or a t-shirt: “Nancy has goals. Nancy sets small, achievable goals to reach a bigger one. Be like Nancy. ”And live happily ever after! So, how about you. What are some of your goals, and what steps are you going to take to reach them? Let us know in the comments.