Starting new habits can be daunting, because let’s face it, we’ve all started something with much enthusiasm, only to have our resolve fizzle out after a few days/weeks/months.
Jon Acuff, in his newest book, Finish, tells of how he guided a group through a 30-day challenge for starting something new. Although he had plenty of people start the challenge, and drop off along the way, but his biggest drop off? Day 2!
If you’re starting something new, consider these three principles that will help you finish.
1 - Progress is more important than perfection. If you don’t do it perfectly, don’t beat yourself up, just do it better next time. It’s the continuity of small, seemingly mundane tasks and decisions we make day after day that end up making a difference. I look back, and see that holds true in other areas of my life. Thirty years of marriage, one day at a time. Ten years of eliminating red meat, one meal at a time. Three years of taking the stairs rather than the elevator at the office, one step at a time. These things have made a difference – bit by bit.
2 - Record your progress, because you won’t see it if you don’t. When I started a new health goal, working with a coach, the first thing she instructed me to do was take “Before and After” pictures, weigh and measure, and keep a journal of my activity. Why? Because just like parents don’t notice how their own children grow and change as much as Grandma does, exclaiming, “My, how they’ve grown!” we also don’t see our daily progress. When I feel stuck, I look back through my journal and see the headway I’ve made. More nights of 7-8 hour sleep than I can remember having in a long time. More dedicated “quiet times.” Fewer pizzas! Pounds dropping.
3 - Accountability is everything. After being in the program with my coach for a few weeks, I participated in a month-long challenge with a team of eight other people. The Number One rule of the challenge? Keep in touch with the group. We had a weekly group call and a Facebook group to touch base daily. That kind of accountability kept me drinking water, going to the gym, and staying on course with my eating.
What will make you different in one year than the person you are today? Decisions you make that are followed by actions – done one small task at a time.
Just like the rough stone that will become smooth when exposed to the rush of the stream, we don’t change the moment we are thrown into the stream, but rather day after day after day of exposure.
Don’t give up on whatever YOUR “new thing” is! Keep going even if you don’t do everything perfectly. Remember that progress is more important than perfection. Record your progress. Grab a friend, join a group, or START a group.