How many times have you started something, feeling super jazzed up about it at first, only to drop it a few weeks later?
This happened to me a lot growing up. But the difference now is that I'm self-aware and know this pattern like the back of my hand.
As we kick off 2019, I'd like to offer a perspective on New Year's resolutions which has worked for me in overcoming this all-too-familiar pattern of giving up too soon.
About five months ago, I decided to become vegetarian. I've been a meat eater all my life, and never would've considered myself a vegetarian. That was just not part of my identity.
In fact, it still sounds weird to me.
Naturally, my friends and family ask the question, "What made you go vegetarian?"
I tell them that one week I simply wanted to try it out. It was an idea that came over me while my girlfriend and I were doing our weekly Sunday grocery shop. It was no big deal. We just said, what the heck, let's give it a shot.
Fast forward one week, and we did it.
Two weeks. Still vegetarian.
By the third week, it was getting easier. Or better yet, it never got harder.
I've been doing it for over five months now, and I'm still going strong.
Why is this? What has enabled me, someone who used to give up when things got tough, to stick to a daily practice of eating vegetarian?
Similarly, when I started this blog, it wasn't about any grand vision. It was about taking something I'm passionate about - true fulfillment and happiness - and just writing about it every day without expectation. I didn't let perfection stop me, because I know that it stops most people.
The only commitment I made to myself was to write every day, while letting momentum take care of the rest.
When you have a New Year's resolution, the grand vision might propel you in the early stages. The excitement of attaining your goal puts a smile on your face, and gives you the push you need to take action.
But soon, you'll hit the first bump in the road. Life will get in the way, as they say, and you'll find yourself questioning whether or not your resolution was worth it. Then you might beat yourself up for even questioning it.
Now, you've got all this negative energy swirling inside you, while your resolution is over there on the side saying, hey, did you forget me already?
To avoid this trap, I suggest not focusing on the grand vision, and instead, focusing on momentum.
After you define what you want and hopefully why, that vision is not going anywhere, so you don't have to protect it. Trust me, you won't forget about it. If it was important enough to make as your New Year's resolution, you won't just forget about it one day.
Instead, spend the first couple days, weeks, and months focusing on gaining momentum by doing one small thing a day until it becomes routine.
That's right - focus on momentum first, and don't focus on anything else.
When you catch yourself feeling unmotivated, lazy, or uncertain, remind yourself of one word - MOMENTUM! - and take any action, no matter how small.
Why does this work? Because without momentum, you won't get anywhere. The initial excitement of the goal will only take you as far as the first roadblock.
Once you hit the roadblock, you need something else. And for me, that something else has been momentum.
Has it not become obvious to you that, when you start something that you really enjoy, there's always an initial high that makes taking action very easy, but then that quickly wears off?
And not only does it wear off, but it tends to bounce back in the other direction, making what used to be a high, now a low state of self-doubt and laziness!
Don't let the disappearance of the initial high take away your chances of reaching your goal.
Instead, be relentless about being consistent.
When we compare our grand vision to our current situation before we've gained any momentum, the contrast is too stark and will leave us feeling defeated and unmotivated. There's too big of a gap between where we are and where we want to go.
To overcome this, trust the process, trust your vision, and trust the power of momentum. It's why I'm still a vegetarian, and why I continue to write a blog post every single day.
Live with substance!