This article is part of a series of articles which the goals are to help you be more successful in your personal challenges. These tips come from my personal experience as well as from the feedback from participants of Challengers (30 day challenges).
Challenges stated in this article can be of many sorts, but in any case are targeting long lasting challenges (i.e. habit creation or new skill learning) which require daily action or near daily action.
Tip 1: Start easy
When starting a new challenge, we are usually at the top of our motivation, completely pumped some would say. And with this motivation, a sense of extra energy kicks in as we start our new challenge, and thus we try to push ourselves hopping this will give us an edge for the rest of our challenge.
A few days in our challenge we are faced with a difficulty. Often we got tired from a difficult work day, had a bad night sleep, got sick… you name it. And the difficulty in our challenge begins. In addition, our motivation from day one isn’t as strong as it was. The result is, when time comes to do your daily challenge, we just don’t feel like doing it, skip the day, and tell ourselves we’ll do better tomorrow.
There are a few typical mistakes in this approach. And the best way to visualize it is to imagine you are a runner. You are doing a long race, similar to a marathon, which will last several weeks and even hopefully several months. Similarly to a marathon, if you start your challenge in a sprint, you will wear out and get tired fast, and will not be able to finish the race.
Starting at a slower pace allows you to get comfortable with your new effort and to judge how you feel over a few days. This allows your brain to label your challenge to something easy to do, so that you are more likely to get back to even on difficult days. And similar to a beginner starting a marathon, whatever you consider being easy now: half that. If you are planning doing 10 push-ups, start with only 5. If you want to run or meditate for 20 minutes, start with 10 minutes.
You can also do to the extreme with this, as in doing 1 push-up, or running 1 minute per day. The point here is to create the habit of starting that activity every day. So that whatever happens, you know you can get back to your challenge and that it’s going to be easy.
Similarly, if you miss a day because it is too difficult and hope to do more the next day is just putting more stress on yourself without really encouraging you to do better. Imagine you are in the same marathon, if you were slow in the previous kilometer, you are unlikely going to be able to catch up on your time on your next kilometer. That time is just gone.
One way to deal with this is to extend the time of your challenge and add the missing day at the end of your challenge. Thus your 30 day challenge becomes a 31 day challenge with 30 effective days. If you compare it to the race, if you take a break in the middle of the race, when you get back to it, you still have the same amount of kilometers to run as before you took the break.
We all have ups and downs in our lives, and if you are prepared for it, they are a lot easier to deal with.
Next tip tomorrow: Make a planning.
Interested in Challengers? Next round start January 14th. Scan the QR codes in the posters bellow to register.