Stop doing so much. Start doing more less. To change your life, change your habits. To change habits, ease off the pressure. Big goals and new year resolutions start with the greatest expectations, effort, and discipline. One month later, we’re back to where we started. This is not that. We are not average.
Make incremental change. Make fast changes. Improve like a snowball accumulating snow downhill as it turns into a massive avalanche capable of killing anything or anyone in its path. Change starts with reframing our mindset, the most powerful tool in our toolbox.
When you make a worthwhile change, at some point you’re going to feel like a failure, like the stick figure pushing the snowball up the hill. At first you’re scared, then angry, then disgusted with ourselves if we quit. If we keep pushing up the hill, soon we reach a tipping point. Often it’s just past that point when we’re fed up and about to quit. Sometimes we need to quit. How do you know when to quit? For most habits like we’ll review, three months of giving your best effort and pushing through the discomfort is enough time to evaluate the change. Often things get easier. We see the benefits. Momentum accumulates. We feel happy.
It’s never a straight path to success. Expect setbacks upfront. Don’t feel bad about them for long. Be kind to yourself. Every time you feel you let yourself down, let it go. Start over again. Like a beginner. Wipe the slate clean and try again. This is hard from the inside. I hate myself when I slip up. But then I go for a walk and get over myself. From the outside, this looks like consistent forward progress, like the image below. That tiny blip when we “failed” — briefly, momentarily, invisibly except to ourselves — is undetectable when we graph our progress from the outside over the course of our lifetime. If we start again the next day or the next week or even the next month. Any effort is better than no effort. Any progress is better than no progress. As soon as we start again, the snowball builds into an avalanche again.
When you feel like it’s getting too hard, do less. When you lack time, do less. Just do something. Take a day off. Try not to take two. Take a week off. Don’t take two. Walk five minutes instead of twenty. Get fast food instead of cooking. Watch tv instead of reading. Take a break. Tomorrow do a little more. Do half. Do a quarter. Do anything. In a day or a week, take it up another notch. Raise the ceiling of your floor. Adopt the “higher low-bar” mindset.
Lower your expectations. Do less. Do less consistently. Sometimes do more. Your results compound over time like a great investment. It takes time and patience. Every investment has down days, down months, down years. Quit and you’re a sucker. Keep investing through the down times and you retire early. Keep investing in yourself and life becomes easier. Not easy. Easier. And your future self says, “Thank you.”
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