Challenges, whether it’s a mini-challenge, or a 30 day challenge – any challenge begins and ends with commitment. A commitment to do something every single day, whether you want to or not. It’s not an easy thing to do.
Over the years, through many challenges and countless hours spent studying the psychology of habits, willpower, and behavior change, it has been proven that a few key items can help you maximize your chances of success and to staying committed:
Focus on one thing at a time. Too many decisions are mentally exhausting, and will leave you frustrated if you try to keep it all up. So if you’re taking on a health and fitness challenge, don’t try to learn how to play the piano at the same time. Focus on health and fitness and nothing else.
Plan it out and schedule it. Decide what challenge you are going to do (fitness class), decide where, when and for how long, and put it on the calendar. The more specific you can get about where, when, and how you will take action, the more likely you are to follow through.
Make a public announcement. Okay, well maybe not a press release, but a public commitment holds you accountable! So share your goal on Facebook, talk about it with friends, and participate in online communities.
Reach out for help. This can come in the form of books, apps, and websites that can help in areas where your skills are lacking. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from people you trust and respect who can provide you with support and encouragement.
Tweak your habitat. Think ahead about how can you remove temptation and outsmart yourself so that bad decisions become harder to make? From putting your alarm clock on the other side of the room to laying out your workout clothes to throwing out your junk food, create an environment that makes it easy to stay committed to your challenge.
Make contingency plans. What will you do when you’re traveling, sick, going to a party, unmotivated, or having a bad day? Decide what kind of action you will take when you encounter the inevitable tough moments.
Make it visual.Photographs, inspirational quotes, your goal printed out in large letters, or a calendar with a checkbox next to every day that you’ve completed your challenge serve as constant and compelling reminders of what you’re working toward.
Track and measure your progress. Tracking your results will help you stay focused, motivated, and more aware of what’s working and what isn’t.
Don’t quit. If you mess up, don’t quite. Learn from the experience and keep moving forward.
Remove “I can’t/I don’t have” from your vocabulary. This might be the most important tip of all. So many people underestimate how much they can accomplish in a short amount of time. It’s our nature to focus on why we can’t and shouldn’t do hard things.
–I don’t have time
-I can’t write
None of these “I don’ts or I can’ts” should be part of your vocabulary. If you wait until you have all the tools and resources to do something, it will never happen.
In order for us to grow, evolve and change, we have to do hard things. We can’t avoid discomfort. Instead of telling yourself “I can’t because…,”say “I can if….” The “if” forces you to change your mindset and focus on better, more constructive questions.
I can write a book if I wake up 30 minutes earlier every morning.
I can learn the piano if I practice before I go to bed.
Change is hard, but not impossible if you put a plan in place. You must take the first step. So think about something you’ve wanted to change or try, give it a shot, and see what happens.
What’s your Challenge? Get started today!