Don’t Quit Now!

Are you discouraged about the changes you hoped to make in the new year? Are you disappointed that you haven’t been more consistent, that you’re only seeing minimal results? That mammoth efforts have resulted in snail pace advances?

Yeah, me too.

As a bookseller, I learned that diet books sell well in January.  On TV weight loss programs and gym memberships are promoted heavily this time of year. 

Our culture is predictable about wanting to lose weight and get in shape after a season of celebrating and indulgence.  

The problem is human behavior doesn’t change that easily. 

It takes 66 repetitions to form a new habit.  

So, in January, human nature is fighting against the habits and repetitions of the previous three or four months. 

Breaking out of that inertia is tough. 

Establishing new habits is tough. 

I think we forget we’re up against a double whammy.  Breaking the old habits and establishing the new.  No wonder it’s so hard. 

Then there’s the problem of goals.  Maybe we need a paradigm shift there, too. 

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits says,“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”

“Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”

“Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.”

“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.”

“I’ve found that goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.”

It’s the eternal optimist in me that thinks I can radically change my life, forgetting about that gravitational pull that makes it so difficult for the rocket to leave the earth’s atmosphere.  The same gravitational pull that keeps me in the warm bed instead of braving the cold to exercise.  

Trying to establish new systems in January might be a fatal flaw.

The way to get around it is to anticipate the problems ahead of time, or at least acknowledge that you are going to have them. 

Accept your imperfect efforts. 

Make adjustments. 

Keep going. 

Reward yourself for efforts, not results. 

Look for intrinsic benefits.

Stick to the plan, even when you’re not seeing the results you want to see.  If you have a good plan, believe the process. 

The problem is obstacles, false starts and setbacks. 

Don’t worry about results.  Maybe you shouldn’t even measure results.  Just worry about efforts.  Be faithful to your efforts and the results will take care of themselves. 

So, if you’re feeling discouraged, don’t look at the numbers.  Don’t measure the results.  Measure the efforts.  Stay consistent with the efforts and the results will take care of themselves. 

Remind yourself: I have put in the time.  I have put in the effort.  I will trust the process for results. 

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