BABY STEPS: Why You Should Lower the Bar & Under Commit
|Photo by Jordan Christian on Unsplash
In the first post of this series, I outlined six reasons why New Year's Health Resolutions (and most habit changes) fail.
In this post, I'll delve into further details around the FIFTH reason why they fail:
5 - You OVERCOMMITTED
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
That's an adorable quote that's been printed onto far too many mugs / t-shirts / tote bags / etc.
|Image Credit: Amazon
In the process of change however, shooting for the moon means you'll be shooting yourself in the foot.
We need to set goals that are beyond our current capabilities, but not so far beyond that they seem impossible. Because once a goal seems unattainable, the motivation to act disappears.
"The reality is there is no easier way to kill motivation than making future progress seem impossible."¹
Self esteem is the result of trusting yourself to follow through on the commitments you made to yourself.
Meaning that if you consistently over-commit on your goals - and FAIL as a result - it will chip away at your belief in your ability to do hard things.
Consistently letting yourself down means you'll be less motivated to try to change because you no longer believe you actually can.
You'll end up losing faith in yourself.
This can lead to all kinds of self-destructive behaviours, like binge eating, binge drinking. binge drugging, etc.
B - I - N - G - E =
The thing is, you didn't fail because you're not good enough or incapable of change for some reason; you just set the bar too high.
What you don't realize is that this method of change - over-committing to super-ambitious goals - will never work.
I call this approach the SHOCK & AWE method.
It looks SEXY on paper - it's what sells diet & exercise programs after all - but it isn't realistic because it's too drastic.
Instead, BABY STEPS.
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
Set a goal that seems realistic to you; once you've achieved it, set another realistic goal. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you do that again and again, and you'll get to where you want to go.
The purpose of baby steps is to watch yourself succeed; by watching yourself WIN, you'll FUEL your motivation to keep going.
"…Instead of wrestling the giant monster, start with the smallest item that you can have control over that’s related to the problem… Break it down to something manageable and feasible.
The goal isn’t to stop there but to get a foothold so that you can gradually climb to the next level.
Once you have a sense of control over the smallest item, then move to something slightly larger...
Being able to see yourself grow is a fundamental human need..."¹
Do more of the things that will allow you to follow through on your commitment to yourself and less of the things that will ensure failure.
How do you do this?
Use small changes - BABY STEPS.
Being able to consistently stick to making small changes will help you grow your faith in yourself to take on bigger and bigger challenges.
But you gotta start somewhere.
So, what does that first baby step look like for you?
In the next post, I'll delve into further details around the SIXTH and final reason why New Year's Health Resolutions (and most habit changes) fail:
6 - You failed to see yourself differently
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¹Magness, Steve. Do Hard Things; Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Science of Real Toughness. Harper Collins, 2022.