Dealing with Challenges
Inevitably when you set out to develop a new behavior or change the current behavior, you are going to have setbacks. In this lesson, we are going to talk about what to do when your new habit doesn’t work or you backslide on your progress.
The first thing is to remember your mindset. You are not a failure because something is not working for you right now. Think about how you can redefine success. What does success look like for your specific situation and this specific moment? Remember that this is about you and only you. Try not to use comparison to someone else as a measure for your own success. Think about how this new behavior fits into your long-term goal. Go back to your intention and consider why you’re doing this.
Next, keep in mind flexible thinking—there are lots of options. For example, if I have difficulty keeping up with my daily workout routine, I could get into all or nothing thinking and think that I either have to do the workout I planned or give up and do nothing. However, if I think flexibly, I can try to find some middle ground and explore other options. Perhaps I could go for a walk today instead of doing my planned workout. Maybe I need to explore another form of working out that I would enjoy more. I don’t really like swimming, so if I was trying to do that as my workout, it would be really hard for me to do. Instead, I could try keeping the same workout time but do a different activity such as the elliptical, where I could also watch my favorite show or listen to an audiobook. I am maintaining my workout routine, but I am changing the activity to make it easier and better for me. What small thing could you do to make your habit or routine easier and more manageable? You can keep trying different things until you find something that works for you.
It is also important to remember that five minutes is enough. You do not have to go for an hour-long run or meditate for forty-five minutes every day to be “successful” in your routine or habit. Going for a five-minute walk counts, meditating for five minutes counts, writing for five minutes counts, reading for five minutes counts. Small activities count! So, if you’re struggling with completing your habit or routine on a regular basis because of time, think about how you could do it for a shorter period of time, or consider moving it to another part of your day when you’ll be able to devote more time to it. While we’re on the topic of time, it is important to complete your new behavior at the same time every day in order to build consistency and habit, however, if the time that you picked is not working for you and that is causing you to have difficulty completing it, you can pick a different time. This is for you, so make it work for you and your schedule.
Finally, keep in mind that each day is a new opportunity. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it is important to remember in the sense that if you missed completing your habit today, you get to start again tomorrow. Or if you missed yesterday, you can try again today. Just because it didn’t happen today, doesn’t mean it cannot happen tomorrow. Try shifting to a different way of doing the behavior, think about how to reduce friction, check your mindset and redefine what success looks like for you, consider how you could shift the timing of the behavior—these are all opportunities to start again and find the way to complete the habit that works best for you. In the next lesson, you will learn how to build routines into your daily behaviors.
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