They say it takes 21 days to create a habit; the idea being that doing something consistently for 21 days will ingrain a new routine that becomes part of who you are. It takes something you once felt you SHOULD do and makes it something you NEED/WANT/HAVE to do. It’s who you are.
Good or bad, it’s what we do daily that determines where we’re headed. Think about it, if you’re overweight, in debt, in a bad relationship or some other less than awesome version of yourself, it’s not something that happened overnight.
Enter: The Compound Effect.
This is the idea that whatever you do daily (all the little things) compound over time to give you the life you currently have (or don’t have.) For example, if you work out for thirty minutes, three times a week, you may not notice a change in the first week but if you do that consistently for a month, six months, a year and so on you’re totally going to have that rockin’ beach bod you’ve always dreamed of!
With this in mind, let’s jump into the ways that will lead you to being the most badass version of yourself:
From Better to Best:
1. Write Out a List (and be specific): You have to write it down! This makes you accountable, gets your goals in print (harder to ignore on paper) and acts as a constant reminder of what you’ve set out to do.
2. Review This List Daily: Get yourself a calendar, make it the background on your phone, post it up on your bathroom mirror; wherever! Just put it somewhere that you’ll see it and review it everyday. This keeps it fresh in your mind and reminds you why you started.
3. Take Before and After Photos: Want to lose weight? Take a picture on Day One, then take a new pic weekly. Want to get out of debt? Do the exact same thing. Take a picture of your bank statement and look at it daily. The beginning is always terrifying and it can be hard to admit that we are where we are, but until you get honest with where you’re starting, you can never make the shifts you want. Pictures are a fantastic reminder, no matter the changes you’re undertaking. They motivate and move us into action.
4. Log Your Results: Along with the picture evidence, get yourself a calendar, PDF or whatever you can scribble on each day. Every day you achieve your goal (eg: drank enough water, worked out, didn’t shop online) , put a check mark, gold star or however you wish to celebrate that daily win. Make sure to do this. The more check marks appear, the more motivated you will be to continue on (It’s called the Snowball Effect.)
5. Tell Other People: I know you’ve got social media! If you’re in that tiny echelon of folks who don’t, I know you’ve got a sister, friend, cousin or coworker who you can report to. Tell them what you’re doing. Post your plans on your Facebook, maybe even post your “before” photo if you’re feeling really brave. Whatever you do, go public with your plans. There’s nothing quite like public accountability to keep you on target.
6. Celebrate Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly Wins: Don’t wait until you’re at your ideal weight or bank balance to give yourself a high-five. Get excited throughout the process. Reward yourself with something (a glass of wine, new shirt, extra hour of Netflix; whatever your bag is) Make celebrating part of the process. You’re making big changes to your life and you’re going to want to get excited as you cross those milestones.
7, Stop Being so Hard on Yourself: Missed a workout? Ate that cupcake? Bought that bag? While you don't want to let yourself off the hook completely, you also don’t want to beat yourself down to a pulp either. Become aware of it, then vow not to do it again. We are all going to fall off the wagon, but I assure you, no one is harder on you than YOU! Speak softly, my friend. You’re doing something you’ve never done before (or maybe you have and it hasn’t panned out). Either way, chill out a bit, you’re a perfectly imperfect work in progress.
8. Ask for Help: Join a gym, running club, Meetup savings's group, Al-Anon or whatever. It’s often helpful to have others in your corner who are fighting the good fight right along with you. Get on good old Google and find people in your community who are like-minded and working towards similar goals. Group-think and positive reaffirmation can do wonders to keep you accountable and on task.
9. Stop Waiting until Monday: Why is “New Year, New Me” and “Diet Starts on Monday” such a thing? Why can’t the diet start now, in one minute from now or right after you’re done bingeing on cupcakes. (You’re totally gonna feel sick after that). Don’t wait for the beginning of a week or year to make some shifts. Start now. Just because you ate like shit for breakfast doesn’t mean you need to eat like shit the rest of the day. Sure, you screwed up; you’re human, welcome to the club! But don’t wait until a new week to begin again or give yourself permission to eat like shit the rest of the week just because of the hamburger you ate on Thursday. Begin again, NOW!!!
10. Love Yourself: Dude, this is the BIGGEST part of this whole thing; loving yourself. Tell yourself nice things. Remember that you're losing weight, not because you’re fat and disgusting but because you love your body and you want to treat it well. You’re not a shitty person who is terrible with money, you love yourself enough to remove financial difficulty from your life because you want to live with less stress. You aren’t a terrible person who can’t find a relationship; you love yourself enough to improve your internal life because you deserve to be with a person who brings out the best in you. It’s all about that self talk, kids. LOVE YOURSELF. You’re so damn special. Don’t lose sight of all the things you're great at, gifted with and capable of. You’re trying and you’re doing the best you can.
Old habits die hard but new ones are totally possible. Start making those tiny shifts, be constant and get excited. Amazing things are on their way as soon as you take the first step.
With Love and Light.