How to maintain a habit when life shifts your focus

I was already writing about this issue, but I have to revise the topic, because I believe it’s of the biggest importance in improving your life. Creating habit seems hard at first. We always see other people who are devoted to something in their lives and we admire them. I want you to become one of those people, that other people look at and be inspired by. I want you to grow to that degree that you become a legend in your near by environment. And I want to tell you a story how I became that legend.

How the shift happened to me

I was unsatisfied with the way I felt about myself for a long time. When I hit 22, I decided it was time to put an end to it, and I wanted to be better. I was motivated to the core, there was not a single day I stopped working out, devotedly. I did it for whole 2 years. It was my passion. Often I wonder why I don’t start a blog about it. I was on fire, the main topic of my conversation. After 2 years of religious fitness regime, I found a different topic I was passionate about, that was in complete collision with my fitness goals I had.

I have given up focus in order to devote myself to starting my own business. And I took a path of building a successful blog. I got consumed by online material, that everything else fell second to it. My social life suffered to an extent, and my fitness goals. But I didn’t give up straight away. 2 years of hardcore fitness regime have left their mark in my natural behavior, so I would keep “cheat workouts” throughout the days. And here I am, a year and a half, after “the break”.

10 minutes a day, that make a difference

My break was different. I didn’t stop working out. I tried out taking a P90X challenge, and went with it halfway through. There were events that prevented me from completing it, by now when I look at them, I see them as excuses. I never stopped working out completely. I developed my own “cheat routine” that kept me in shape throughout “the break”. Routine was fairly easy, I had to lie myself that I did the workout, while it consisted out of 20-40 push ups and 10 pull ups, a day.

There weren’t many days that I have skipped. I have even made workout mandatory part of my morning routine in OmniFocus. Those 5-10 minutes invested, each and every day kept me sane that I am not “loosing it”. Those 5-10 minutes a day helped me maintain the habit. Even though I was regressing, now I am at a point where I want to take charge and bring it to the next level. And it doesn’t seem that hard as it would be, had I gone through year and a half of not lifting a finger.

Things like this will happen to many of us. We will go through a change in our lives and our motivation will shift on new goals, putting them in the spotlight of our lives. And situations where focus shifted from our previous goals will move on to the new ones. Once that happens, you need to keep your rationale and make a strong commitment to keep those habits that were hard to build in the first place. Especially when those habits are in your best interest. Always think of the time you previously invested just to make that habit happen in the first place.

Give props to your former self, and appreciate it

I can only feel grateful for my previous self, for having the drive, energy and motivation to build the habit in the first place. Now my present self needs to learn to appreciate your previous effort. Once you appreciate it, you will be able to push yourself into “maintain a habit” mode. Because at some point focus can shift back on that area of your life, that you left neglected. I will give you a couple of other examples that you might find yourself familiar with:

Let’s say you started a blog, and you took a firm decision that you want to maintain it and write an article per day. Suddenly you get a well paid job and your blog is not a focus anymore. Economy got better, you don’t have as much free time on your hands, but, you worked hard in creating a habit of writing an article per day.

It’s not something that generates income right away, but if you keep pushing it, one day it will happen. If you want to be on the level above average Joe, who keeps moving completely from one goal to the next, as long as it provides instant gratification, than you will never reach excellence to that degree where you can safely say that you achieved what you started.

It is true that when we are young, we have a lot of time at our hands, but that time erodes. So never allow your laziness to take over and destroy the habits that you invested a lot of time in creating. All of this comes from personal experience. My advice to you as a reader is to stop and think for a moment. Think about all the positive habits that you created throughout the years. Think about all that enthusiastic energy you invested in reshaping into your better self. Once you find out which habits you’ve built, and what are the ones that you dropped out.

Next actions:

I want you to think about that particular habit that you left behind you, and I want to put it in front of yourself again. And make sure this time, that it won’t slip away. I want you to make it happen, and make that habit become an internal part of your life again. I want you to think about the consequences of not doing that ever again in your life. How would that make you feel? How would that reflect on the quality of your life?

It doesn’t have to be a complete makeover of your life. It can be 5-10 minutes invested into something that you really loved. Those 5-10 minutes add up, they allow you to grow, regardless of the small time investment. Cause those small minutes will add up. After a couple of days, those minutes will turn into hours and days. Once that happens you will feel the continuity of things and at some moment, your shift will revert to the habit you’ve been maintaining.

Now instead of starting off from ground zero, you have a solid foundation to build upon. Maintaining good habits is of crucial importance in improving your life. It’s something that will keep you on track, to the destinations that you’ve previously chosen. And when life storm pushes you in new directions, habits will help you maintain the sail to your destination.

Comments

  1. mars-o says

    your article seems to be a bit scattered. but i get the point. everything is cumulative. 🙂 thanks..i’m also at a stage, where i need to maintain a habit to accumulate the # of hours practice, so i could do better and better in this field..so, yeah,thanks for this article.