Finding Motivation in 21 Days

21 Days to a Habit

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Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the 21 days to form a habit concept. The general gist is this: pop culture has taught us that it takes 21 days to turn any behavior into a habit. My guess is that things are a little bit more complex, but I thought it was a fun concept and decided to give it a go.

So I’ve been experimenting with different 21 day habits. I went off sugar for a month just to see what it was like. I’ve done 10,000 steps for 21 days. Right now I’m on a kick of 21 days of exercise. (On day 12… Yay me!)

I found the whole experiment to be fascinating. Mostly it’s fun and is something to think about. Plus I’ve been picking things that theoretically make me healthier so that’s kinda cool too. But I’ve also learned a way to think about discipline and accomplishing things that we don’t generally want to do. And, to that end, I thought a few of my ideas might be helpful for you.

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It seems to me that when people talk about dieting they talk about making healthy choices, enjoying the fact that you are giving up that chocolate ice cream, and eating to fewer slices of Italian sausage pizza. But for me, passing up on pizza or ice cream is really hard. I’m just telling myself that I will enjoy that good choice and that doesn’t seem sufficient to me. So I’ve begun to think about these choices a different way.

Instead of considering why this positive choice is going to be so helpful or fun or meaningful, I think about the opposite; how will failing to stick with this habit affect me?

So let’s talk about exercise. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t want to sit on an exercise bike, or do laps around the indoor track, or get into that cold pool to swim laps. I’d much rather stay home, drink some red wine and stream some Game of Thrones.   

What does work for me is to think to myself, how am I going to feel about myself later tonight if I fail to go to the gym? And how will I feel about myself later if I choose to go to the gym? For me this concrete game of choices helps motivate me. I know that if I failed to go to the gym I will feel bad about myself. I will know I don’t have the discipline and that will make me feel crappy about myself. I will have failed with my 21 day challenge and that will ding my self esteem.

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But the opposite is also true; if I go to the gym I will feel good about myself, positive, and have increased self-esteem. And in the case of exercise, I will even have the benefit of endorphins.

So when you look at it this way, it’s much easier. Later tonight do I want to feel crappy about myself or good about myself? Okay… pack your bag!  Grab the swim goggles!

It’s a mental game I know, but it’s working. Need to make a tough choice today?  Making a decision about eating that second slice of red velvet cake, making that awkward call you know you have to make, or getting on your running shoes to get out there and move?   If the positive feelings about making the decisions isn’t enough for you, think ahead to how you’ll feel if you make the weaker choice.    Yeah, you want to avoid that lousy feeling which will motivate you enough to get through the hard parts of positive tasks and turn them into positive habits.

Brad Montgomery inspires and motivates audiences on a regular basis with his impactful keynote addresses, team building sessions and interactive workshops.  Bring more positivity and laughter to your next conference or meeting by booking Brad Montgomery.

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