Doing it all at once is at odds with sustainability.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I make an exhaustive list of all the things I want to achieve in the next (insert unattainable timeline here), I quickly feel overwhelmed and defeated. In my experience, people are much more likely to succeed if their actions – no matter how small or apparently insignificant, can be done reliably and consistently.

If sustainable change is what you’re after, try this. Focus on one daily action that is manageable in the context of your life right now. This approach will increase your chances of showing up for yourself on a regular basis. Psychologically, this sends a powerful message to the brain. That message is “Yes, I can do this!”. This builds self-trust, which reinforces the confidence and competency to continue making progress on our goals. And to continue growing, learning and becoming the person you envision.

TL:DR. Find a regular practice or a daily task that aligns with your goals and allows for consistency. From that place, staying on track becomes easier. No willpower is required. Consistent practice builds confidence and competency. In addition, a strong foundation for further change is established – practically as well as psychologically. Essentially, you are building a new identity when you do this.

I’d like to share a motivational quote from James Clear, author of the popular book, Atomic Habits. It speaks to the power of showing up for yourself every single day when you’re building new habits.

“It’s not that hard on any given day, but the trick is you can’t skip days. Your workouts can be reasonable and still deliver results—if you don’t skip days. Your writing sessions can be short and the work will still accumulate—if you don’t skip days. As long as you’re working, you’ll get there.”

James Clear

Considering the quote above, what health habits might you adjust so that they’re doable every single day or on a regular basis? In other words, if the intention is to deliver results from consistency (vs. doing it all at once), what needs to change so that you don’t skip days?

Physical activity. Using exercise as an example, can you dial down the frequency, intensity or duration of your workouts so that it’s an easy/easier “yes”? If time is a limiting factor, can you adjust your workouts to be done at home with minimal equipment or body weight instead of going to a gym? If that isn’t an option, can you find pockets of time during the day to engage in some exercise snacking?

What you eat and how you eat. When it comes to your nutrition and eating habits, what’s one commitment that you can follow easily and effortlessly no matter what? Maybe it’s a daily protein shake or not skipping meals. If your eating habits are all over the place, look at your system for meal planning and prepping. What, if anything, could you do to improve your food preparation systems to make healthy eating more consistent?

The likelihood of success increases when we acknowledge the complexity and reality of our practical circumstances with compassion. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances. 

Don’t try to do it all at once! 

Keep it reasonable and don’t skip days. The results will follow from being consistent, building self-trust, and creating a foundation for future change.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash