How to Go From Knowing to Doing
We’ve all done it…read a blog post about the benefits of meditating, bought a yoga mat thinking “This is the time!”
We set the alarm clock for 1 hour earlier to begin writing in that nice new hard bound journal you picked up last trip downtown, yada yada yada. Yet here we sit…yoga mats collect dust, journal pages remain crisp. Sure some of us pick up the new routine for a little spell….a week, a few months even. But…life, right? Well guess what sugar…you’re not alone. (Reread the first line here).If procrastination is your hurdle, also check out my previous article on The Number 1 Way to StopProcrastinating.
You're On The Right Track
My goal here and now with these words coming out of my fingertips isn’t to pump you up and get ya geared up for the weekend to do something in particular.
My goal is simple…to let you know it’s all part of the process. To make any change, big or small, usually takes multiple attempts. Multiple attempts would inherently mean you’ve had multiple failures. Yup…i’ve said it…failures. But…these were good failures.(yes, there are such a thing). I’m sure you at least learned a thing or two of how NOT to do your new thing. Take whatever nuggets of knowledge you can squeeze out of what you did those other times and reflect on them.
New Results Require New Thinking
Don’t do the usual…sit in pity and denial and eat bonbons till you’re enough days past it to not think about it anymore. I’m giving you permission to think all about it. You need to. If you do, you’ll get to a place where you will recognize the previous pitfalls from a mile away. If you can get there, you can easily sidestep most of these as well as be on the watch for other potential roadblocks. Wisdom is experience personified.
Whatever it is you’re attempting to do, learn, or become, i’m sure you’ve read all the how to manuals, taken $49 online course after course, and Googled the idea dozens of times. Lack of tools in the toolbox is one major roadblock to success. If all you have is a screwdriver, but have to hammer a nail into the wall, wouldn’t you get online and order a hammer for same day delivery? Then, all of the sudden, your tool kit has grown by 100% !
Bring this idea into any other area of life where you’re struggling and the successes will begin to mount. These tools needed, however, are sometimes a bit more obscure and less obvious than simply needing a yoga mat to start a yoga practice. Let’s continue with the yoga example…mentally skip ahead ohhh i dunno…66 days. (this is how long it takes for a new behaviour to become a habit according to the latest studies.)
See Your Goal From The Endpoint
The You on this day is fitter, leaner, and thinking more clearly. If all it took was buying a slick looking yoga mat, we would all be blowing up Instagram with killer abs. The key lies behind the self identity on day 66. You’ve become someone who does yoga. It’s now part of what you do. In social settings, casual conversations, water cooler talks, you drop lines about your yoga routine with pride. And rightfully so.
The Difference Maker
So what does this you from 66 days from now do differently? Well, maybe they have cleared a certain block of their day which is now their yoga time. Say, right before leaving for work in the morning. Clearing this block is now one of the new tools you need for your kit. Maybe joining up with a friend who has like minded goals. Being accountable to someone else on things is surprisingly effective in keeping you aligned with your plan. Maybe having laid out your workout clothes the night before to make the session easier to get started. Another tool right there. According to James Clear’s book Atomic Habits (highly recommended!), the easier you make it to do the task by removing potential obstacles, the higher chance it will get done each time. Vise versa, if you’re trying to stop doing a certain something, inserting obstacles in the way of beginning the unwanted task makes it less likely you’ll do it. So simple, yet so overlooked by us all.
So now that you’ve got your yoga mat unrolled and out of the corner, your water bottle chilling in the fridge, add to it whatever else you can find that will make it wayyyy too easy to get it going tomorrow. Add to it things that will make it hard to not do it.
Don't Lose Focus
Author BJ Fogg mentions in Tiny Habits that as your desire to do something goes down, so must it’s degree of difficulty if there’s any chance for it to be done at all, let alone develop into a habit you do rather unconsciously. Conversely, something you really like doing, or are really motivated to do can now be coupled with a task that’s a bit on the difficult side. For example, it’s very tough to hit a big league fastball…near impossible. But, if your love of the game is high, along with lots of time to kill and maybe live close to a baseball field, these all work in your favor of sticking with the program, no matter how difficult the task. On the other hand, if you’re more of a hockey fan, work a 12 hour day, and live downtown, then developing your skills of hitting a baseball will be difficult.
All in all, once we have clairity of what it is we want, we then can find what we need to get it. Once this is figured out, the implementation is all in your hands.
“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda