The seemingly endless cycle.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve decided “Right! I’m going to get fit this year!” or “I’m going to do an hour of yoga EVERY DAY! …and doing really well for a few weeks. Feeling the pride of my achievements, the thrill of my body getting healthier by the day, the joy of discipline…finally! And then something happens. Maybe I go out for a few drinks and don’t feel like getting up at 7am to do my Sun Salutations. Or maybe there’s a bug going round and I catch it and that’s me floored for a week. FAILURE! I haven’t kept up my “streak”! And I give up.
So how did I stop this endless loop of wins and loses? This sine wave of success and failure, over and over and over again? A wise man once said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. And that’s exactly what I was doing.Throwing myself into these schedules of intense discipline, time and time again, thinking if I keep doing it that one day it would stick. Well, it bloody didn’t!
If something isn’t working, it doesn’t mean you are failing. It just means you haven’t found the appropriate way to do it that meets your personal needs. For me, it meant baby steps. And by baby steps I mean teeny tiny miniscule baby steps. It meant scrap the schedule. Ignore the discipline. Start with something I maybe already do but make it a habit that I am Mindful about and can tick off every day. Once I had that tiny habit set in place then I could start adding to it. Little by little. Week by week. And it worked.
I started by drinking a glass of water every morning before I got up. I would have the water ready the night before. Come the morning…sit up and drink. Tick it off. I’m not even out of bed and already I have achieved something. It may sound so small and insignificant but this set me on the right track. Week 2: Drink water + take 5 breaths. Week 3: Drink water + take 5 breaths + do 1 minute of stretching. Now, I have a short list of daily habits built up that are almost automatic and none feel like chores. And this isn’t to say that there have been days I haven’t done them. I was ill for a week and the only thing I could do was drink the glass of water, but it kept the feeling of the habits going, so when I was better, I didn’t feel like there was this massive mountain to climb to build them back up again.
I didn’t feel like I had failed, I felt like I had consciously paused. And THAT is what made the difference in succeeding in my habit building.