We are three weeks into the new year now. It’s likely, then, if you set some goals at the beginning of the month, that you’ve already encountered difficulties or failure in making them happen. Maybe you were so sore from one workout that you didn’t exercise the next day, only to find yourself skipping the gym all week. Or perhaps you stayed up too late one night and haven’t been able to recover your sleep goals since.
We will all miss the mark sometimes and stray from the Path we have set for ourselves. What is important, though, is not *if* that happens, but what we do when it does.
Just like we talked about at the beginning of the month, every moment is an opportunity for a fresh start. We often think that if we mess up in the middle of the week, that we have to wait for the start of the next week in order to get back on track. But that’s not true. We can start aright the very next day, next hour, or next moment. We are not defined by our failing, but rather by our corrections.
When Boredom Strikes
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear recounts his conversation with an elite athletic coach. Clear asked the coach what sets apart the best athletes from everyone else? The coaches answer: their ability to handle the boredom of training every day.
We tend to have a conception that the people who get really good at something must love it. And I’m sure they do. But that doesn’t mean that they have to love every moment of training or practice. Everyone goes through the Pit of Despair. Everyone loses their passion or motivation from time to time. But not everyone can persevere through the low moments where motivation isn’t going to cut it.
So how do you persevere through the Pit when you don’t have the drive to keep going?
The first step is understanding that this lull in motivation is normal and not a sign that you should quit. Even when working at something that you’re truly passionate about, there will inevitably come a time when you must overcome inertia to reach the next level.
Once you know that this is something you have to work through and can’t escape from, how do you move through the Pit?
James Clear’s four laws for creating and keeping good habits are to make it obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. Doing these four things will help you stick to your habit even when you’d rather not.
So think about why you’re getting bored with a habit. Is it because it isn’t interesting? Then make it attractive by attaching something you like to the habit. For example, you could watch your favorite sitcom only when you run on the treadmill.
Is it because it’s out of the way? Then make it easy by switching to a gym that’s on your commute home from work.
Is it because you keep forgetting? Then make it obvious by making your lunch the night before so you see it on your way out the door and don’t end up having to eat out?
Finally, make it satisfying by picking achievable goals that you will have a chance at succeeding in. An unrealistic goal will not provide you with the satisfaction of accomplishment that helps you keep going. You need goals that will push you, but if you are too lofty you’ll set yourself up for failure before you even start.
There is no one answer to how to get through the Pit. That is why diagnosing why you are failing at achieving your goal will help you move forward. If one strategy doesn’t work, try another one until you find something that sticks.
Leading an intentional life doesn’t mean that you’ll never mess up. But living intentionally does mean that we are just as intentional in our failure as in our successes and are able to pick up where we left off and start again.
Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Coordinator at The Crossroad.