I’ve noticed that I’m able to accomplish more when I’m accountable and committed to something and the most efficient way I found is to write down a plan, acting on it and following up with the progress. If there’s no progress, it usually means I’m not following the plan or I’m not doing the right thing. Sometimes it’s not so simple, but pretty much all the things I was able to accomplish lately, always follow this pattern.
For example, last year I ran my first marathon. I’ve been a
inconsistent “runner” for a very long time. I used to run the same distance at the same pace for a few weeks or months, then I’d stop for a month or two. Repeat. If you are into running you know it’s hard to improve doing the same thing over and over again, or even worse, not doing it at all. In order to run a marathon (26mi/42km) you need to run a lot. Consistently. How could I go from 3mi to 26mi? Easy: finding a marathon plan and following it. This is exactly what I did. It worked for me and millions of people have done that too.
Have a plan
The most important thing for me was to know how to get to the, lets say, finish line. Everyday I knew the amount of miles I would run that day. I knew where I wanted to go (my goal) and how to get there (the plan). On the other hand, if I didn’t have the plan, I would probably run a few miles a week and eventually give up. I would be lost, because it would be hard to improve and see my progress towards that goal. Running a marathon can be overwhelming, so can be anything else you want to do in life.
This could also be linked to creating habits. I really enjoy reading books. The problem, like running, was the consistency (or lack of). As many things in my life, I would start the job and not finish it. So what did I do? I decided to read a book like I trained for my marathon: having a plan and being consistent.
I usually wake up, drink a glass of water, write down 3 things I’m grateful for, and read 20 pages of a book. For the last 10 weeks, I have followed this new habit. As of today, I’m 100 pages into my 7th book. At that pace (7 books per 10 weeks) I’ll read about 36 books in the next year. Not bad.
I read this article back in December of 2015 and it got me thinking. If I dedicate some time to read 10/20 pages a day, I would be able to read a lot of books. Two months later, I’m already on my third book. If I keep this pace for another month or two, I am very confident to say that 2016 is going to be the year I read the largest amounts of books in my entire life. This is a huge accomplishment for me.
It’s ok not to be perfect
There were days during my training that I didn’t or couldn’t go for a 8mi run. Or I didn’t even feel like running at all. Life gets in the way sometimes. But guess what? I was still able to complete the race successfully. It wasn’t that day or those two days that would jeopardize the entire training. The crucial thing was to keep going and to stay motivated. It’s ok to break the streak, but don’t get too complacent, otherwise you will stray away from the path. If that happens, the chances are high that you will get lost.
Another good example, is this very blog post. It took me less than a hour to write 90% of it, but the remaining part, took me about two weeks. During that time I started having ideas about other things I wanted to write about but I got overwhelmed. I knew I would have to finish this article first, before I started something else. You know, one step at a time.
Use a little help
I’ve been using an app called Momentum. The idea behind the app is very simple: it helps you track your habits. The app suggests the most popular habits like “exercise”, “wake up early”, “keep a journal”, etc., or you can also create your owns. Then you setup the frequency and alerts.
Momentum is the simple, yet powerful, habit tracker that boosts your willpower and helps you reach your goals.
Every time you complete your “habit”, you log into the app. It’s very satisfying to see the streak growing day by day. I know it sounds silly, but many late nights I made an extra effort to floss my teeth to avoid breaking the streak. The same thing applies to the other habits I want to form.
If you don’t want to use an app, ask for a friend, a coworker or a family member to help you out. If people keep asking about your progress, you are more likely to do it. We don’t like to disappoint other people and/or ourselves. It’s important to be accountable!
We all can accomplish many things if we are ready to accept the challenge. Try to commit to something and follow it through. Have a plan and be consistent. Remember, you don’t need to be perfect, but persistent. Start doing something new today, not tomorrow. Challenge yourself. You will be surprised how far you can go.