Photo by Zach Dischner
The mind set you relate your challenge to is very important to make it stick. If you think of your challenge as a chore, it will be extremely difficult to make it as a habit. What to do you ask? Make it Fun! Making your challenge fun and attaching it to a fun context will not only make it a lot easier for you start doing your challenge, but it will also be a lot easier to come back to it and transform it into a regular habit.
You can be going the same task in two very different ways, one way will be boring and your will not stick to it, the other way will be fun and will quickly become a part of your daily routine. For example, take a set of commands where you need to press some buttons in a special order for a particular time, and if you do a wrong manipulation, you have to start again from the beginning. How long would you be willing to do such a task? I guess not long at all. Now let’s frame it a bit differently, let’s call it a game, and this time when you push the buttons a character moves on the screen, and you need to avoid obstacles by moving around. Sounds a lot more fun!
So how can you reproduce such a transformation with your challenge? Let’s look at how we get addicted to those small video games. To get us hooked, they mainly use one technique carefully arranged: they make you reach many small accomplishments with rewards immediately after you are successful. Simple, isn’t it? Let’s see how we can apply this then!
Multiply small accomplishments
Let’s take someone who wants to train for a marathon. People often say running is boring, but some apps can help us get those accomplishments along the way, but you don’t need those apps if you know what to look for. First of all keep track of your Personal Best (PB) with different goals such as speed, max distance, 100m, 500m, 1km, 5km, 10km …
Let’s break these down a little. The first time you are going to go running, this is already an accomplishment, even if you only last 500m (that was my distance the first time I ran, and I was so out of breath after I had to walk my way back). Success! You went running for the first time! Next day maybe you manage to run 600m. That’s a need distance PB! The third day you are a bit tired from the previous days and only run 400m, but you ran 3 days in a row for the first time! That also is a new PB! As you keep training you will be able to time yourself over 1km and start having you best time for 1km, and you can try to beat that PB week after week. Each time you manage to go farther, or faster is an accomplishment, no matter how small the progress! Remember, just doing your challenge on a given day is already an accomplishment. You don’t need to beat your PB each time you go out and run.
Celebrate and Reward yourself
So now we have the accomplishment we are still missing one crucial part in the process: the reward! Every accomplishment deserves a reward. It doesn’t need to be a huge reward, but it need to make you happy from your accomplishment. It is worth noting that rewards occurring immediately after you have accomplished something will have a stronger impact on your mind. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to the restaurant on the weekend after a good week of training, but that it requires a bigger accomplishment for it to stay in your mind a relate to that reward when it finally occur.
Here are a few ideas on how you can reward yourself:
- Take a moment to be proud of what you just accomplished
- Run to a scenic spot and enjoy the view when you arrive, maybe have a snack there
- Treat yourself to a restaurant, or order a special dinner, no cooking tonight!
- Call a friend and brag about your achieved goal
- Dance and sing, jump around and scream (don’t worry about the people looking at you)
- Take a selfie
- Do that small thing that usually make you happy
Your imagination is the limit in both the accomplishment and the rewards.
Now go out there and enjoy it!