There have been many times (enough to be embarrassing) in my life where I’ve jumped the gun and enthusiastically bought something to improve my life or learn a new skill, but never end up using it. I’ve got an unopened electronics learning kit in my closet right now that I’ve been carrying around with me for five years. I got a saxophone for a Christmas Present last year that I’ve only played once.
Without a proper plan in place, our opportunistic enthusiasm leads us away from our intentions. Our heart (and head) is in the right place, but without a plan, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Whether that’s something short-term, like reading a book, or something long-term, like starting a company or learning how to bake, we need a goal to aim for and a strategy on how to get there.
But why? Why can’t we just buy a sewing machine and learn how to sew? Or sign up for that online course and stick to it? Why does it take so much effort to do something we want to do?
Part of the reason is we haven’t established a habit around it yet. As Charles Duhigg writes about in his book, The Power of Habit, first we need to establish a habit-forming process. “This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental, or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.”
In Sight, In Mind.
Another reason it’s so hard to start or stick to something is that we don’t make time/room for it in our lives—physically and mentally). “Out of sight, out of mind”.
One habit I find really hard to stick to is mobility work. (Working on your muscle fascia to restore range of motion and release daily tension.) You would think rubbing your feet and the rest of your body with a foam roller and some squishy mobility balls would feel good enough to stick to it, but you would be wrong.
Beyond not establishing a good habit yet, I think one reason why is my equipment is stored away and harder to physically get to. “Hard” is a relative word. Put differently, if my toys are not within easy reach, I can easily forget to use them.
When you have to go out of your way to take action, and therefore do double the work, no wonder we have trouble starting and sticking to a habit.
First, we have to find our running shoes and figure out where we put our gym shorts and recharge our dead phones and re-sign into Spotify and fill up our car with gas and yatta-yatta to finally get to the gym or to the park to run.
This really isn’t laziness, per se, rather it’s difficult “ease of use”. What we want and what we expect is to put on our shoes and go run. But in reality, we have to wade through 4 layers of mud to make that happen. Or we put away our tools in our closets or garage and proceed to completely forget about their existence. We buy new kitchen gear that gets lost and used in the back of our cabinets. We skip a day of journaling because we can’t find a pen.
These things are tiny and make us sound lazy, but that’s not really the issue. The problem is we set ourselves up to fail before we even start.
The easier it is to access a good habit, the more likely we will do it.
I am 100% more likely to work out if I’ve got my weights, bands, and shoes out in the open and ready to go. The same goes for practicing guitar. When my guitar is on a stand, I’m much more likely to reach out and grab it and take a “quick” guitar break, versus if it was stuck in a guitar case somewhere under a bed somewhere. And if there’s no ice cream in the house, well, I can’t eat any, right? (Or at least I’m less likely to door dash it).
You aren’t lazy. You are just not motivated to start and not making the time to start.
No wonder you have trouble sticking to a good habit when you have to go through a ten-step process before you can start! (I’m breaking a sweat just thinking about it).
Surround yourself with good habits over bad.
Make it as simple and easy as possible to work on your goals.
Organize your equipment or habit ahead of time to make it easier with the moment strikes.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1298