Have you been struggling with creating a new habit this year? Are you feeling like you the goals you set in January are so far away you might as well give up? Is your haphazard progress frustrating? You are not alone, and you don’t need to give up. The solution I am using is simple. Adjust your goal to focus on the process and ease back into motion.
After creating a daily writing habit in 2021, I set out with bigger ambitions in 2022. I believed I had mastered my writing routine and could stack new habits and new goals on it to become a better version of myself.
Then I got sick, and life got busy. Suddenly, my solid writing habit evaporated. My inflated view of myself as a conqueror of habits popped. It is tempting to view my effort as a complete failure. After all, I reached a goal and slid backward.
Our minds create more resistance the farther off the desired path we fall. What do I build on now? Do I go back to the beginning and start over? Has all my progress been lost? Maybe I was reaching too far. I screwed that up and it will be so hard to get back on track. Failing at a goal is disappointing but a good lesson to learn.
My critical error was that I expected was to reach perfection and stay there. The fact is I am human, and humans are not perfect. We can not control all our circumstances. However, we are resilient. We have free will and choice. We can get back up and try again.
My critical error was that I expected was to reach perfection and stay there.
Yes, I need to restart my habit journey, but I can positively frame the situation. Overcoming adversity is an essential skill for navigating life. The ability to start again takes effort and skill that improves with practice. It is not fun, nor is it easy, but ultimately it is a greater cause for celebration than working toward a goal once and expecting to stay there forever.
This time, I am not starting as a beginner because I already know what it takes to write daily. My ego is bruised, but my skills are stronger than they were before I started building the habit in the first place.
I realize now that habits are about getting better over time, not achieving a state of perfection. Could any of us ever reach a point where we have no more goals to achieve, and all our desired habits are mastered? Of course not! Truthfully, we would find life very dull if we had no challenges before us.
I realize now that habits are about getting better over time, not achieving a state of perfection.
Habits are always a challenge, but they are worth developing. Rare is the person who can keep up a daily habit without fail for years on end. There will be dozens more we only hope to master for every habit we do well with. The journey and the practice are critical. The journey itself is the goal worth pursuing.
Success with habits should not be measured against the standard of perfect performance. True success comes from improvement. Initially, that might be mean being more consistent. After consistency, you can expand a habit. For example, instead of writing every day, you might decide to write more efficiently or for a more extended time.
The journey itself is the goal worth pursuing.
When the habit derails unexpectedly, success means getting back up and starting small. The goal is a moving target depending on where we are in the habit journey. Some days your practice might need to be microscopic, like writing a sentence. That’s okay. It is a step on the journey, and every step of your journey matters.
Originally published at medium.com on March 16, 2022