“Hit it hard” is the mantra in January and particularly in the first two weeks as so many depend on willpower to set a new habit or break an old one. The theory is that if you go all in from the beginning, willpower will maintain momentum — assuming no external prevention or thwarting that would break the streak. Once their streak breaks . . . well, we tend to lose interest.
This I know so well. I used an app almost daily for a few years. Every week I received an email with how many weeks were part of my streak. Now seriously, I use this almost every day in connection with several programs and apps on my computer.
In the first week of January last year, my streak inexplicably started over at Week 1. I’d used it several times in the previous week, so it made no sense. I’d seen the little icon working, yet nothing I could say or do restored my streak. I contacted customer service, and they apologized, but my streak was over.
And I immediately lost interest in the app. Human nature likes streaks, so once it’s broken, we often abandon our goals. Add that to the many potential saboteurs for our goals or resolutions. What’s your particular saboteur?
I propose one that is rather sneaky: Exhaustion.
That “hit it hard” mentality in January is the reason. We try to do everything we can to break or install a habit, to learn something new, or to be strict about a routine. I think we figure if we go hard at it, then we’ll slack up and hit a good pace for us. However, the most common response to the exhaustion of trying so hard to get it all done and accomplished quickly adds onto the busy autumn and lead-up to Christmas takes its toll. Rather than slacking up a little, we can’t drag ourselves out of bed an hour earlier one morning for that workout. You’re so tired, you don’t care about the goal. Exhaustion breaks your streak and you abandon the goal.
The Tortoise Beat the Hare
Explosive progress looks good, but here’s an idea: Be the tortoise. Rather than overwhelming yourself in January with all the things you want to do toward your goal, consider starting as you mean to go on.
Think about how you would like this goal to be progressing by the third week of March, by end of summer, by this time next year. How would it look if you were still consistent with this goal? What would you be doing? What will it look like?
That look into the future saves you from the frantic application of the principles and restores consistency and problem solving for days when life doesn’t quite go as expected. You’ll get there and leave behind all the Hares who’ve abandoned their goals by now.
Be the tortoise.