Your willpower is eventually going to run out. We are all at different levels with that. With enough conviction, momentum and encouragement you can last 2 – 3 weeks and then your will fades and you are left with cold hard reality. Suddenly the grand vision of yourself, that just a few weeks ago seemed reachable will lose the luster and you will be left in the situation that I know that all of us have been. Another good effort, another attempt at improvement that becomes delayed until “tomorrow” or “next week” or “next month” or even “next year.”
There is a myth that solid good habits are built in 18 days. Completely false. It is more like 90 days in my opinion. The reason? You have to go through sickness, you have to make it through a personal crisis, a work crisis or two, a family vacation, a birthday party, an event, bad weather, and various other routine disrupting events. 90 days (3 months) is just about enough time for most of those things to happen. If you can make it past several of those events, then you start to change. The change is powerful. You stop relying on willpower and you start to rely on an even more powerful human trait and that is following habitual patterns.
I know this for a fact because I am a lifelong procrastinator. I am probably the most undisciplined, unmotivated, last minute, fly by the seat of your pants person on the planet. I got by in school because I thought I was smart. Why study when I can do nothing and get a C and the degree? Most of you are high achievers, that is why you work in this type of business. You probably have a similar experience, except for one of you (and that person knows exactly why I am calling the exception!!). So I am undisciplined, trust me. I am a wreck when it comes to doing anything productive and consistent for a long period of time. However, I am capable of slaying large dragons at the last minute and that is what I have survived on my entire life.
This last year, I cracked the code. It took me 50 years, but I finally figured it out. It starts with understanding human behavior and how habits are really built. I am very good at habitually doing bad things every day, why is it so freaking hard to do good things habitually? This is the question that I have fought through for 377 days straight now. I made it my personal quest to figure this out. I am going to do my best to share what I have come up with.
How can you learn to harness the power of human biology and habitual pattern development to take over when your will power fails? I have absolute faith that if you focus on incrementally improving an important aspect of your physical/spiritual/emotional/financial life that you will grow and gain that vision of your future self. We will all be better for it and we can celebrate together. But we have got to get you past 90 days. That is the primary challenge. How?
Step 1 – Recognize right now that your willpower is going to go away and it is going to disappear very soon. If you have really kept a commitment for a few days in a row now, you are still on willpower. That is good. If you have not started yet, or already failed – quit procrastinating. Get back on the train. It is ok if your Day 6 is really your Day 1. It does not matter in the eternal scheme of things. Willpower is not your friend, it will not stay with you, it will abandon you here in the next few days. Not sure when, but it is going to go away. Get ready. Be prepared. Start deciding today, how you are going to react. What are you going to do when you wake up one of these days and your will is gone and you have a litany of excuses of why you cannot keep your commitment.
I know what I do when my willpower runs out. I am ready. When that happens – I stare in the mirror – I really look at myself. I stare deep into my own eyes. I ask myself who I want to become, what was that vision of my future self? How bad do I really want it? I look at myself, and then with conviction I let the future me tell the whining little wimpy, lacking will power me – “EMBRACE THE SUCK.”
Guy Reams (377)