January Isn’t Special
This is my first article in quite a while and it’s going to be part of a weekly dose of content I have pledged to keep for the next 28 weeks. You see I’ve always wanted to blog regularly (2-4 times a month) but I’ve never managed to maintain it since starting this blog back in March 2014.
The reason has always been accountability. If I wrote 10 blogs a month or 1 it didn’t matter because I had nobody to answer to and that has led me to take thing to the next level.
I decided to join stickk.com and pledge to give $100 US to charity every week if I do not post a new blog post. So there is $2800 up for stakes between now and the beginning of July 2017. Now I have accountability. I thought about waiting till the new year but why wait? If you want to start a new habit stop falling victim to the “Monday mindset” and start today.
Things aren’t going to be magically easier on Monday or In January. You’re just pushing results further down the track.
I have this conversation with clients over and over again.
“It’s been a busy week and I’ve only got to the gym once but come Monday I’ll be back on track”.
“I’m going to wait till January to start that program, no point now”.
“I’ve had 3 beers today so starting monday I’m alcohol free”.
“Oh I shouldn’t have had that for dinner, I might as well have two deserts too. Heck, I might as well go nuts and start in the new year”.
These are all absolutes – either I hit the gym hard or rest up and come back on monday (even though it’s Tuesday!). Either you stay carb free or over indulge on croissants all day.
1 missed session or a cheat meal here and there won’t ruin your progress. It’s skipping full weeks of exercise and cheat meals turning into cheat days that ruin progress.
Below I’ve some obstacles with new habits and how to improve them.
- Realise January isn’t special
You’re willpower or strength levels won’t be any better come January. It’s not any different to March or December. It just happens to be the first month of the year. That’s it. In fact I think starting in January is harder because there’s that added pressure of “a new start”. It also lets people go even further off course in December because you feel you’ll make such huge improvements in January.
Once you make sense of this, January loses all it’s power and you can actually get on with your goals. That’s a large part of why I started when I did. My challenge started on December 20th which is a Wednesday. I initially said to myself “I’ll wait till January”.
When I actually thought about it, it made no sense. I’m about to go on two weeks holidays from work so I’ll have lots of free time over christmas. January is the busiest time of year in the fitness industry (for all of the above) so I could easily get started on a lot of the coming articles during this time frame. Once that clicked it made perfect sense.
Now it’s your turn. Try and start something on a day other than Monday or in January and see what happens.
- Enthusiasm Will Wane
With any new habit your enthusiasm will rise and dip as you progress through different stages. I felt this a lot during my handstand training for GMB recntly (more on this soon). Usually with a new diet you’ll get results initially then things will slow down and as a result you’ll quit. The reason being that there’s no pain involved if you stop. Now if you were at risk of losing say, $2800 you might be more compliant (like me!).
So tell people what it is you want to achieve and find someone to keep you accountable either through coaching or giving a financial commitment.
- Recovering from failures
If you miss a day or two at the gym it’s easy to get frustrated and quit. Likewise with nutrition, it can be easy to write a day of because of one poor decision. Ditch all or nothing and realise that you are going to mess up. That’s normal and as long as you let it go and adopt a clean slate mindset (ie don’t lose the day) you’ll be fine.
The guys at Precision Nutrition have trained over 40,000 people online and they found no significant difference between clients who were 95% compliant and those who were 80%. So if you have a muffin, it’s okay. Forgive yourself and start again (clean slate). Learn to fail small and you’ll find results will improve dramatically. Failing spectacularly is what puts us way off ever getting close to the results we want.
It doesn’t matter what new behaviour you’d like to adopt. Once you realise that January and Monday are no better times to start than any other you’ll see your compliance to new habits improve. Plus, you won’t have to wait till January when you want to start anything new!
Realise that you will fail and enthusiasm will wane but this are all parts of the journey with any new behaviour. Let me know what new habit you’re starting in the comments.