Every year resolutions are made and after a few days of implementation, the habits get interrupted. Reasons may be varied and may include short illness, travels, guest visits, an exams etc. However, the issue is not the interruptions that came in between. This may be a popular perception as well. The real issue is not re-starting again or trying to re-start with an expectation that the old endurance levels / feelings will somehow appear magically on the first day itself.
Now, how do we keep on track? There is several factors to it. The most important being to recognize the obstacles that may crop out and to have a plan for each.
1. Meditate and set an intention
Use meditation as a tool to refresh yourself during the journey of habit formation. It will minimize a potential burnout. Use different techniques like focusing on the breath or simply being mindful during a task. ‘Pranayama‘ is a powerful meditation technique that can be practiced regularly.
Therefore setting an intention of completing a task will increase your changes of completing a task by 3 times. It is very simple. Just write down, what you intend to complete today and at what time. Remember to have a backup plan, in case of any exigency. E.g if at 11 a.m. you are not feeling like doing the task, meditate or initiate that task for 5 minutes before stopping. Most likely you will get in the flow and will be able to complete the intended task for the day.
2. Reinterpret failure
Many of us are harsh on ourselves, when not able to achieve a goal. We tend to belittle ourselves or try to put the blame on others. We don’t try to delve into the real reasons of habit formation failure. According to me, the real reason of failure is only one i.e Failing to re-start after a temporary set-back/pause.
In most of the cases the pause or set-back lasts only for a few days, but we tend to carry it over many months or years, which leads to the final failure. Steven Furtick rightly said that ‘ Failure isn’t final until you quit !!‘ Most people fail to re-start.
Thus, go easy on yourself. After any temporary pause, re-start effortlessly without blaming yourself. Recognize that temporary stops are part and parcel of the journey. One should not worry about them, rather these should be embraced without any guilt. However, please be sure not to have a long pause. Often times taking the first step or reading the first page resolves the re-starting issue. Recognize these facts asap.
3. Take baby steps when restarting
After a break, it is natural tendency to expect earlier performance. We are not being practical here. We should recognize that capacities and capabilities reduce after a gap and hence small steps are very important to reach that stage again. Focusing on consistency is the key here.
Start small initially and thereafter build on earlier accomplishments. It will lower the pressure from the mind and make the rituals enjoyable. Focus on not more than 2 tasks at a time to keep things manageable.
4. Enforce accountability
Enforcing accountability is an integral part of maintaining that habit. Ideally it should be internal as it also builds character. One can also find a third person, who can make you aware about the long pauses or missed practice sessions. They should be ones whom you respect and you should feel embarrassed. The embarrassment would trigger the re-start mode again.
But there is a catch. I have seen near and dear ones, who after a certain frequency of external reminders, distance themselves from the person sharing the feedback. They start avoiding and at the same time don’t re-start at all. To avoid this situation, where a good relationship sours, re-start after the first reminder itself. Don’t wait to be embarrassed for the second time. It is natural for the mind to avoid that feeling again and adopt drastic measures. Recognize that.
5. Habit tracker support
Maintaining a habit tracker can be a powerful tool in keeping you on track. Try to have as many completed signs on the tracker sheet as possible. Once it is substantial i.e. 1-2 months, you feel the accomplishment by seeing that sheet and self-motivation automatically kicks in. Ignore the temporary pauses and always remember to re-start. You will not feel like missing a session or activity, once you see in the tracker that you have already come a long way. Habit tracker also helps in stacking habits i.e. building habits on top of each other. Starting with something small and then gradually building on the successful feeling of the first. Thus you can replace or add habits as per your will. Just imagine the power it gives you.
6. Find that motivating why ?
Any habit that you are planning to build should have strong underlying why. Not the superficial one, which is usually tied to monetary achievements. Money is always a byproduct and is bound to follow skills. Neither should it be related to ‘revenge’. It should be more deep and positive. E.g. If, I complete the course, I will be able to contribute much better in my existing organization. If, I start a small business, I will be able to provide great products in my neiborhood. I can also be creative, which was my desire since many years.
7. Link Why with visualization
Most of us might have read or seen ‘The Secret’ by Ronda Bryne. Visualisation is a technique that can move mountains and change one’s life. Many examples are available on Youtube. I recall the videos of ‘Jim Carry‘ and ‘Ophrah Winfrey‘ profoundly. Once you have a solid Why, start visualizing how that goal is turning out to be true. Feel the changes in behaviors of your near ones and abundance. However, remember to match this feeling later with ‘Karma’ or practice towards your goals as mentioned in earlier points.