New years resolutions are hard.
The human psyche has some sort of blind spot, a missing link when it comes to committing to something new. For the vast majority of us it seems impossible! We know that a healthier diet is good for us. We know exercising regularly is good for us. We know getting up early will increase productivity. We know, we know, we know. There are a whole host of things we know would improve our lives, yet we just can’t seem to implement.
I have two main things I want to incorporate regularly into my life at the minute. These are yoga, and learning French. I have struggled for ages to do either activity with any regularity and have fits and bursts of having a real good go, only for my efforts to tail off into nothingness. As a result, my progress seemed to wax and wane, which compounded the frustration and led to even less work ethic and motivation.
As a result, I have been looking for the best way to try to become more disciplined in these matters. My answer? Daily minimums.
A daily minimum is a tiny, tiny goal, that you say to yourself “I’ll be happy if I achieve this tiny goal today”. A daily minimum is ridiculously easy to achieve and will represent a victory in your mind.
My daily minimums?
- 5 minutes of yoga per day.
- 3 new french words.
- 1 french podcast.
Now they are really easy to achieve. 5 minutes of yoga? You just have to press play on the DVD, do a few bits of prancing around, and you are done! 3 French words? Well this morning they were Vestiere – Locker, Paperasserie – paperwork, and un Regard – a glance. My French podcast? The sports news from yesterday, which, strangely enough, in French, always seems to revolve around Ibrahimovic. Pity.
And I am happy with those quantities.
The thing is though, the vast majority of time, it is the starting that is the hard part. A daily minimum breaks a task down into a minute quantity that the human mind can get over doing. A 4 mile run seems like a psychological hurdle. A run to the lamppost at the end of the street? Well that is less of a drama in your mind. I could do that in my pyjamas right now! However, the vast majority of times, once you start, you carry on.
There has been a few times I have completed just 5 minutes of yoga. However, on the vast majority of occasions, I have thought screw it, I’ll just finish the DVD now. It is starting the task that is the psychological hurdle. Once you have started, momentum will take you forward, and 9 times out of 10, you will complete more than your daily minimum. If not, no worries, you have achieved your goal for the day!
A slight shift in mentality is required also. A lot of people chastise themselves when they do not complete a task fully, or go through fits and starts. Not me. The bigger picture is more simplistic. If you do the right things for the majority of the time, you are heading in the right direction. If you have a lull of 3 weeks where you hit your daily minimums only, who cares? You are doing the right things and your life will improve as a result.
Daily minimums reduce the psychological turmoil of introducing a new habit into your life. Make your daily minimum goals today – what minimum quantity of an activity will you be happy with? Set that goal and go from there. Momentum will see you through!