“Contrary to popular belief, the biggest obstacle to confidence is not unfavourable circumstances, but rather bad measurement: comparing yourself to others or against some perfect ideal instead of working with the actual material you have at hand — your unique advantages, situation, and experience.” — Dan Sullivan
Do you ever feel like you just can’t seem to stay consistent with healthy habits?
No matter how much you accomplish it seems like progress has yet to be made.
You try another wellness initiative, another fitness program, another diet, and within weeks or a matter of a couple short months, you are back to square one.
This can be attributed to one double-edged sword: expectations.
We often lose our confidence, followed by our consistency with our habits because of unrealistic expectations. We compare ourselves to what others have accomplished, their results, what we’ve read about, and what we think should be happening with our progress.
“I can’t meditate because I keep thinking and can’t stop.”
“I’m not losing 2 pound per week, and that’s not fast enough.”
Notice that each of these scenarios isn’t really about the individual per se. It’s about what they expect should be happening. Meditating is not about “not thinking” and losing weight is not about “losing 2 pounds per week.”
I think we often unintentionally mistake the finger pointing at the moon, for the moon itself. We mistake sign posts and guides as the journey itself, when in reality they are only what they are — sign posts and guides.
Meditating is more about observing thought, and less about forcefully willing our way into not thinking. And losing 2 pounds every week is less about achieving that specific target, but more about giving us feedback and insight into the habits that we have actually been practicing each day.
When we manage our expectations, we shift our focus to setting a positive intent. One way to do this is by celebrating small daily wins. By focusing on the accomplishments in our lives, and showing compassion towards ourselves we build confidence.
The problem is that most of us glance over these amazing triumphs as no cause for celebration, and focus our attention on the daunting road ahead. Here’s everything standing in my way. Here is how far I have to go. On top of this, we dwell on perceived problems we experienced in the past.
This is not about deluding ourselves into thinking that taking random, tiny actions every day is going to get us to where we want to be. But it is about rewarding ourselves for changing (which is very hard!) and learning to love the process.
Little hinges that swing big doors
Productivity is built when we first build our confidence.
In order to do that, we need to manage our expectations. We need to shift our focus to what’s in our control and what is actually attainable given our current resources as hand.
Each day set your intent with three health tasks you will accomplish. No matter what, these have to get done. This is an essentialist, not a to-do list.
These three tasks will move you closer to your goals, and they can easily be accomplished with just enough awareness and effort on your part. They are not insurmountable. You just shrink or scale the practice to where you are at in your health and fitness journey. For example:
Drink 2 litres of water.
Eat 1 serving of vegetables.
Go for a 10 minute walk.
Keep the progress rollin’
Drink only water the entire day — aim for 3 litres.
Eat 5 servings of vegetables.
Complete a 30 minute, moderate to intense workout.
I actually refer to these as ‘lifestyle minimums’ — the minimum daily target for specific health habits that you can easily accomplish every single day — no matter how hectic your schedule is.
Pick from the core categories of nutrition, exercise, stress management, and sleep. Notice that these habits are highly specific behaviours. There are SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
When you focus on small wins, you build greater self-confidence. With greater self-confidence, a self-fulfilling prophecy begins to take shape. You believe in yourself, your vision, and the necessary steps it will take to get there.
Overtime, your brain begins to naturally gravitate towards positivity. Your perception of situations will start to take the form of opportunities that can be leveraged for growth — not insurmountable obstacles.
In this way, failure does not exist — only in the form as a thought in which you choose to cling to. Rather, there is only feedback that the situation presents itself, and information you get to choose how to respond to.
You choose to grow.
What to do next
1. Write down your lifestyle minimums. Pick three, and make sure they are relevant to your overall goals. Remember that these are minimums. This is the least you need to do for the day to keep momentum rolling forward. It’s not about taking massive action and then falling off the next day. And it’s not about taking a nearly imperceivable action, deluding yourself into thinking that’s all it takes to reach your goals.
2. Track your win streak. Jerry Seinfeld has a lot of great jokes because he spends each day writing a lot of jokes. And when he successfully completes his writing practice for the day, he marks a big red X on his calendar. Then he does it again the next day, and so forth. The goal then becomes: don’t break the chain. Find a visual method that you can use in order to track your consistency.
3. Practice the Clean Slate Policy. If you feel that a day slips, don’t dwell on it. Examine it through an objective lens and see what you can learn from the situation. Show yourself compassion, and move on.
4. Ask for support. Reach out today if you need any support on setting attainable wellness goals, and building positive team wellness habits for improved productivity and engagement. You can also learn how to implement a proven system that nurtures a thriving wellness culture at work and at home. Check out the Wellness Blueprint today.
Thank you for reading my article! I hope you found it helpful or at least thought-provoking. If it did help, please share it with someone you think it would benefit.