In this week’s article, I want to give you some of my favorite tips from the “Stay Committed” section of How to Be a Better Person. These tips (and the 45+ more that are in the book) are designed specifically to help you stay in touch with your motivation, find loving ways to keep yourself accountable, and keep it all feeling fun—I don’t know about you, but I find fun to be the biggest motivator of all!
I’ve talked to a lot of people in the last week who are feeling the February blahs. Which makes sense—we’re just a little over half-way through winter. The landscape is barren. The sun is scarce (where I live, anyway). Spring still feels pretty far. It’s all feeling a bit… sloggy.
Which is often how it feels any time trying to create something better for yourself. You start off on a high, I’m going to do this! It’s going to be great! And you zip along for a while and then at some point, you hit a trough. Why is this taking so long? Shouldn’t I be farther along? Maybe I chose to go after the wrong thing. Maybe I’ll just quit and try again in a few months.
Sadly, change doesn’t come simply from making up your mind; it’s the result of doing things differently on a consistent basis. And that requires staying committed.
When you can’t do a lot, do a little
Life will get busy and you will struggle to keep doing the things you want to do—this is not in question. In those instances, even the bare minimum counts. Taking a walk around the block at lunch when you don’t have time for a longer excursion, for instance, will keep your seat warm and prevent you from feeling like you’ve completely fallen off the wagon. Forgiving yourself for your lapses also makes it that much easier to climb back up on the wagon when you get more of your time back.
Tie the things you want to do to the things you already do
If you’re looking for the time to add something new to your schedule, you might give up before you begin. Instead, think about what you’re already doing and see where you can weave in something new. For example, you can practice mindfulness in the shower, listen to language instruction audios on your nightly dog walk, or keep your vitamins next to the coffee mugs. Adding something new to an already established part of your routine makes it relatively painless and doesn’t require finding any additional time.
Be stubborn about your ends but flexible about your means
When you let go of the idea of mapping out your every step, there is one thing you have to stay clear on—your end destination. You can be as stubborn as you want to be about where you’re trying to get—a certain amount of debt paid off, a romantic relationship where you feel adored, a particular project that you want to launch. But being malleable about how you get there will help you navigate the inevitable twists and turns along the way. Once you get where you’re going, it won’t matter how you got there—it will only matter that you did.
Get better at digging deep
Challenges are part of life. They’re not here to torture you or dictate your fate. They’re here to help you grow. The next time you encounter a speed bump, view it as an opportunity to dig a little deeper and uncover a resilience that perhaps you didn’t know you had. We’ve all got reserves that we generally don’t think too much about—consider this your chance to rediscover what you’re made of.
Up the fun factor Being committed doesn’t have to mean all work and no play. When you set out to work on anything that will help you be a better person, do something to make the experience fun—play some music, wear something you love, light a delicious-smelling candle, pour yourself a glass of wine, or make a perfect cup of coffee. It’s completely okay to appeal to your inner hedonist in these moments, because when we enjoy our efforts, we look forward to them and want to get started again.
Here are some other thoughts on staying committed from previous newsletters:
4 Ways to Tell If That Exciting New Project Is a Distraction
How to Make Progress on Lots of Projects, All at Once
Why Is It Taking Sooooo Long? The Truth About Impatience
17 Things I Learned By Doing 108 Sun Salutations That Apply to Going After Any Big Goal
Whatever it is you’re working toward, I wish you the clarity, the courage, and the commitment to keep going. No matter the destination, the journey will make you a better person.