You’ve started something new and felt that exhilaration that comes with the vision you have for where you want to go and how amazing it will be when you get there.
That is the feeling so many people have that first week in January when all the gyms are packed with the New Year’s resolution folks who, this year, are going to have those six-pack abs by summer.
But by February, very few of those very excited people are still around.
You’ve experienced something similar. In something (maybe most things) you decide to start, there’s a point where it gets hard and you take the path of least resistance, going back to the comfortable thing you were doing before.
I heard a comment by Jordan Harbinger of the Art of Charm podcast recently that succinctly addresses this reality, and how you can use it to your advantage: “There’s not a lot of traffic on the last mile.”
The sentiment in that quote is so valuable.
You Just Have To Finish The Race
As the person with the six-pack-abs resolution knows, starting is a lot easier than finishing. Starting is about finding something that excites you enough to make a change.
But finishing is about staying with it when you aren’t excited anymore, at least not in that can’t-stop-talking-about-it kind of way.
Success (however that is defined for you) is largely about showing up consistently. Not about being the best prepared at the start, just about being one of the few that finishes.
The hard part in the middle culls out most people, even those that might be better suited than you to do whatever you are trying to do.
Staying in the race will ensure you succeed.
So how do you keep yourself in the race?
Two things will help you push through when that seductive tendency to quit starts to creep up.
1. Give Yourself Permission To Fail As Many Times As It Takes To Succeed
You are going to realize at some point in your journey that you are going to fail because you don’t yet have the necessary know-how to navigate the change flawlessly.
We hate failing, feeling like a failure, and mostly other people seeing us fail.
So this is usually the point when we bail.
But you are going to push through because when you started, you were eyes wide open, you knew there were going to be failures along the way, and you gave yourself permission to fail, over and over again.
Instead of looking at them as failures, you will see them as learning opportunities to gain the know-how you need to succeed.
So literally give yourself the permission to fail, but not to quit. If you do that, you’ll stay in the race, and eventually, you’ll hit the finish line.
2. Decide Once, Act Accordingly
When you decide to make a change, don’t revisit the decision. Don’t give yourself any other options but to push forward.
I don’t mean blindly go forward without ever reevaluating your goals as you gain experience.
What I mean is whatever you were trying to address by starting the process, never revisit that issue.
For example, if you decided to get fit because you know you aren’t leading a healthy lifestyle and that is making you unhappy, don’t allow yourself to revisit that issue. When passing on the donut or showing up to a workout when you’re tired gets hard, don’t let yourself ponder whether you can deal with the unhealthy lifestyle after all.
Making your underlying change a non-negotiable is critical because if you start giving yourself the option, you will eventually rationalize yourself out achieving your goal when doing so inevitably gets hard and uncomfortable.
I’m sure you can pretty quickly come up with five or more examples of times you have done that.
I’ve certainly told myself sleeping an extra hour would be better for me than waking up to exercise. The problem is once you string a few of those together, getting back to doing the hard thing becomes almost impossible.
So decide once and then act accordingly. Don’t allow your rationalization talent to derail your success.
The beauty of the hard part that presents itself along the path to success is that it happens to everyone. But, because you know it is coming, you can be prepared for it when everyone else gets blindsided.
As they fall off, you can keep moving. Slowly at times, quickly at others, but always moving. Failing your way to success.
Using those failures as chances to tweak and optimize your approach. And then to keep plugging away.
Eventually, you will enjoy that traffic-free last mile and the success that comes along with it.
So get moving towards your success and look at your struggles and failures as opportunities to separate from the pack.
Craig had an “aha” moment when he realized he wanted to live a life that provides an inspiration to his kids, not a counterexample. It led him to start Forge Tomorrow Today where he writes about how to overcome the struggles we all have when we are trying to be the best version of ourselves for the little humans in our lives. Join him there.
[Photo Credit: Joris Louwes]
Hi, my name is Don and I run Breath of Optimism. This site is here to help you stay positive and become the best you can be. We only get one shot at life, so we might as well make the most of it.