You’ve spent the past 90 days fighting resistance in order to put into place a valuable habit. Then it happened. Something threw you off your tracks and you fall back into your old ways. You have a derailed habit – What do you do now?
Don’t panic. This is a test. This is the moment you decide whether or not this is a habit you really want to create. It’s in these moments of decision that a true habit is created.
First, recognize the real challenge.
In this age of easy buttons and quick hits it’s likely you have unrealistic expectations of making a significant change in your life. You may be thinking ‘if I could just do this for a week, I can do it forever.’ It’s not your fault, the self-help and advertising industries have saturated our senses with the get-rich / get-thin quick promises for decades. Your job is to face reality head on.
The challenge you face is unique. Why? Because you are unique and your situation is unique. No matter what you are trying to change it’s important to unmask the real challenge you face and not the one that everyone else is facing.
There’s the habit you are trying to create and there is the challenge you face. These are not necessarily the same thing.
Are you trying to create a habit of establishing your priorities the night before so you get up in the morning knowing exactly what to do first?
What challenge do you face in creating this habit? Is it having time? Maybe it’s remembering to do it? Or is it that you don’t want to know what’s facing you tomorrow so you can get a good night’s sleep.
When you face a derailed habit, it’s an opportunity to unmask your real challenge.
Second, embrace the opportunity.
When building muscles, the most difficult final repetitions in the set ate the ones that have the most impact and encourage that muscle to grow. The same goes for building your habit muscle.
It’s these more difficult times of pushing through the pain of a derailment that will help establish a real habit.
Every time you break the chain of your daily habit it’s an opportunity to become stronger. Each time you get back on track you build a stronger habit. Without these derailments, you wouldn’t have a strong habit. It’s crazy but you actually need these derailments to create a resilient habit.
Third, fix the derailed habit.
Getting back on track involves mental and physical strength – and you’ve got it.
Whether you’ve done 7 days or 90 days of your habit before a derailment, it’s proof you can do it. You’ve also done step one to unmask the real challenge you face – and that knowledge gives you strength. You’ve shifted your perception to now embrace the opportunity to strengthen your habit muscle through this derailment.
Now it’s time to get back on the track.
The key is to do it as soon as you realize you’ve derailed. The longer you wait, the more difficult the task. Doing even a small action toward the habit will get you moving in the right direction. Can you…
Set an alarm as a reminder?
Get your tools set up and ready?
Block time on your calendar?
This one small action needs to address not the habit, but the real challenge you face. Whatever you identified in the first step is the real obstacle. This one small but difficult thing you need to do to get back on track needs to address the obstacle.
What is your true obstacle?
What can you do right now, right this very moment to put one foot back on the habit making track?