Make hay while the sun shines. Good idea for investing. Not so good idea for habit building. Habit building needs consistency rather than one off best hit.
When we try to build habits, we give ourselves a ‘minimum’ or ‘lower limit’ goal.
For example: We will tell ourselves, this week at the minimum, I will eat 1 clean meal every day. Or we tell ourselves, this week, at the minimum, I will work out 2 days a week. Or we tell ourselves, every day I will work out at least 20 min.
And when the opportune moment comes, we try to push ourselves to achieve more than our set goals. For example, if we set ourselves to eat 1 clean meal a day, we push ourselves to eat the other meals clean too. If we set ourselves to workout 2 days a week, we push ourselves to go 5 days a week. If we set the goal of 20 min exercise, we want to go beyond 20 min. We basically want to get the greatest benefit when we are feeling good.
There is nothing wrong with this approach. However, once we push ourselves and achieve a higher target, then mentally that becomes the new target. For example, if, on a great week, we end up doing 6 days a week of workout, then 6 days become our new target. If we push ourselves to eat 3 clean meals in a day, then 3 meals become our new target. If we exercise 40 min, then 40 min becomes our new target.
The next time, we would do anything to achieve the new target. If we see ourselves not achieving the new target, then we start cheating to achieve the new target or start feeling bad about ourselves for not achieving the new target. Biting off more than what you can chew, can backfire – a lot.
Instead, if we set ourselves a lower limit on our goals and also a higher limit on our goals, we can standardize the process.
For example, setting a goal that minimum 1 clean meal a day and max 2 clean meal a day. Setting a goal of minimum 20 min of workout and max 25 min of workout. Doing workouts, minimum 2 days a week and max 3 days a week.
Setting up a lower limit and a ‘closer’ upper limit, helps us standardize the process and make it more consistent. A lower limit and a ‘closer’ upper limit ensures that on both good days and bad days we are able to achieve our targets consistently. Only after you standardize a process or make it more consistent, that you can make improvements to it.
For example, while eating 1 clean meal a day, figure out what can be done to make the process consistent and better. Figure out what can be done to move from 1 clean meal to 2 clean meals a day on a consistent basis. Hash out all the obstacles in achieving consistency and repetition. And the days you are able to eat 2 clean meals a day, don’t push yourself for the 3rd clean meal. Give yourself some room to breathe and think.
While workout out for 10 or 20 mins a day, figure out what can derail you from making this process consistent. Clear those obstacles first. Figure out what you can do to make this habit easier for you to control. On days that you are feeling good, workout for 25 mins max and not a min more. Give yourself a time frame, saying that only after I am able to do 25 min workout consistently for the next 3 weeks, that I shall make 25 mins the new lower limit.
What would be your lower limit and the upper limit to standardize a habit? If you need help with nutrition-related habits, do contact us.
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