We’ve all been there. We start a new routine, a new diet or gym streak and we feel like we’re on top of the world. Our energy is up and we feel super accomplished. Our momentum is high and we’re on a roll.
And then it crashes.
A day off from the gym turns into five. A cheat meal turns into a cheat week. Before we know it, the momentum is gone and we feel like we’re right back where we started. Sometimes we go back to an even worse place than we started!
How did this happen?!
Studies show that it takes 21 days to truly build a lasting habit. If we can make something part of our daily routine for three straight weeks, we’re much more likely to stick with it long-term.
But how do we stay motivated to engrain this new routine, whether it be going to the gym, meal prepping, or buying and eating whole, real foods?
A tool that works with remarkable success is delayed gratification. This is the act of putting off an immediate reward while working toward and waiting for a larger and more enduring reward later.
Example: “If I go to the gym 4 days per week, Mon-Tues-Thur-Fri, for the next four weeks I’m going to reward myself with a new [insert favorite brand here] outfit and a dinner out with friends or significant other at [insert favorite restaurant here].
We are setting a goal or expectation and giving ourselves a reward at the end for meeting this goal. This is delayed gratification.
The additional benefit in the example above is that if I stick with the plan, by the end of those four weeks I’ve likely built a lasting habit that is going to continue after my reward!
- Write down a short-term goal, something you want to achieve. Smaller is better!
- Give it a time frame, start small (1 week) and progress to something longer (3-4 weeks).
- Lay out the reward you are going to give yourself at the end for achieving the goal.
- Keep that reward in mind as you progress through the days/weeks!