In the past three years, I’ve had one habit that has worked miracles for me.
It’s easy, repeatable, and pays off every single time I do it. And I probably do it 6 out of 7 days.
I put my clothes out the night before. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Saturday or a Sunday the following day; part of my night-time routine is I quickly pick out what I’m going to wear and put it out on the dresser.
When morning comes, like magic, it’s like little birds have picked out what I’m going to be wearing.
When I’m in a setting where people ask me my favorite strategies with saving time or procrastination, I fire that one off.
I put out my clothes the night before. It reduces my decision fatigue and I’m able to just get going.
Most of time, they reply: “That wouldn’t work for me.” I scratch my head and think: “What is exactly is the clothes situation here? Why wouldn’t this work?” I follow up and they say, “I just don’t have time at night.” Or “ I have to put my kids to bed.” Whatever.
And when it comes to all the advice, the articles (I’ve written a few), there’s this barrier that a lot of people have when it comes to getting their stuff together.
Nothing works for them because their situation is so unique.
Oh, and I’m here to tell you: they are wrong. Your situation around your procrastination, your ADHD, your distracted mind is not unique.
And I know that sounds harsh—mean even.
I have the habit of saying that phrase as well:
“Oh a budget doesn’t work for me.”
“Oh, I can’t communicate that well to that person. You don’t understand the situation.”
“I’m afraid I’m just too busy with all the hours of my life gobbled up. You have no idea.”
Unless you are an astronaut on a space station, your days are pretty similar to most. Sure you might have 3 kids or one kid. Maybe you’re married and maybe you’re not. But I’m sure you eat some meals and have a job. You live some place.
We automatically have this defense when we decide we want to change something about ourselves. Steven Pressfield would call it The Resistance. The Resistance hollers at you and says: “You can’t do this. You shouldn’t do this. What a waste of time. Stay the same. This decision you are making is going to rob your happiness.”
And when we knee-jerk with the phrase, “That won’t work for me. . . “ that’s The Resistance talking.
When you’re thinking about a change, developing a new habit, whether it’s something small like putting your clothes out the night before or something big like a new exercise habit, you’ll feel that barrier. It will be this powerful tug of Resistance screaming you shouldn’t move forward.
And here’s how you combat it.
Decide if this is good for you in the long term, not the short term.
Resistance wants to push against you and convince with it’s siren song that you shouldn’t change, but you need to look at the habit you want to start, the goal you want to accomplish or the person you want to become and ask yourself if this is going to benefit you long term?
Can you see yourself getting better at something whether dropping the pizza weight (that’s me) or starting to write. Spend some time working through what it would look like if you accomplished that goal for a month, two months, 6 months or a year. You’ll start to feel more motivation to accomplish the goal.
30 is the Magic Number
When I start a new habit, a new goal, when I’m on a mission, I give myself 30 days to work on it. 30 consecutive days where I’m like, RIDE OR DIE on this habit.
If I hit the skids, if I fail, I don’t throw in the towel and say, “I’ll never be able to get this.” No. I simply start over the next day, make the necessary corrections and keep going.
Commit to 30 days and you’ll have a much easier time establishing and getting used to a new habit.
Create some Bumpers.
You want to hear the howl of a 5 year old, wailing into the abyss of their frustration? Take them bowling. That ball will fall into the gutter, this long line of failure, saying, “You missed. You can’t even hit a pin.”
So what do you do? You get rid of the gutters. You put in bumpers. You make failure literally impossible.
So if you are going to start a new habit, install some bumpers into your routine. If you are planning on working out, come up with all the things that would trip you up and fix them—now. Have your workout plan already done. Have your gym bag packed. Have your post-workout snack ready to go. Whatever it is, install the bumpers. You will not howl into the abyss of frustration anymore.
Put Your Money on the Line
If you want to really to fight Resistance, and this is a bit drastic, is to make a bet with someone about your goal with a penalty that is huge. Write a check (remember those?) to an organization you loathe and give it to the friend. It needs to be an amount of money that is painful. It could be $50 or $500. Whatever burns your britches.
If you don’t accomplish the goal, that check gets SENT. Maybe it’s to finish your novel. Maybe it’s to lose that weight. Want that garage cleaned, this is your motivation. Barring a freak accident or loss of limb, you need to finish that goal.
It’s a TRAP!
The trap of the Resistance is to say, “This won’t work for you. You are just plain stuck.” When a solution is offered, a meaningful piece of advice or a well-defined strategy, take a look at it and if it could work implement it and don’t shrug it off. That’s what Resistance wants; and we want nothing Resistance offers.