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Rolling with the Punches: Strategies for Sticking to Habits in the Face of Adversity

Rolling with the Punches: Strategies for Sticking to Habits in the Face of Adversity

If you've been following our Habit Series, you know that habits play a big role in our lives. But let's be honest; making new habits and sticking to them can be tricky. Life throws you curveballs, and it's easy to swing and miss. But don't worry, we got you. This article will give tips on how to roll with the punches and trust the habit-forming process, even when things get tough.

Accepting Adversity

Life can sometimes be bumpy. Things happen, and it's not always smooth sailing. But the good news is adversity is just a part of the game, and we can prepare for it. Instead of being caught off guard by obstacles, we can plan ahead by identifying potential roadblocks and coming up with solutions. If your goal is to eat healthier, but you know that you often succumb to cravings when stressed, a solution could be to plan and prepare healthy snacks in advance and keep them easily accessible. And let's not forget, resilience is key - building it through things like deliberate cold exposure or targeted mindfulness practice can help you stay on track when the going gets tough.

Trust the Process

Remember, making new habits is a journey, not a destination. Instead of just focusing on the end goal, we need to focus on the journey and give ourselves credit for every little victory along the way. And it's important to remember that having the right mindset is crucial in this process. According to psychologist Carol Dweck, our mindset plays a significant role in our ability to form new habits (1). When we see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, we're more likely to embrace the journey and let it make us stronger. This "Growth Mindset" is a huge part of working through the rough patches. Don't look at habit-forming as a one-time event but as a continuous process that takes time and effort.

Rewarding Yourself Properly

When it comes to sticking to our habits, rewards help keep us motivated. But it's important to make sure that the rewards we choose help us actually maintain our habits. One key to picking the right rewards is understanding the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic rewards are the good feelings we get from within, like feeling accomplished or proud of crushing a great workout. Extrinsic rewards are the outside stuff, like a post-workout chocolate bar or letting ourselves indulge in a few too many drinks. To make our habits stick, we need to focus on the intrinsic rewards directly connected to the habit itself. For example, if the habit is to work out, the endorphins that come with a killer session are the ideal intrinsic reward all on their own. When the reward comes from within, they provide a sense of satisfaction and help you stay motivated for the long term.

5 Core Focuses to Stay on Track

When things inevitably go wrong, here are some key things to focus on to help you stay on track and keep moving forward:

  • Focus on what you can control (not what you can't)
  • Focus on what you have (not what you don't have)
  • Focus on the present (not the past or future)
  • Focus on what you can do (not what you can't)
  • Focus on who/the person you want to become (not a goal you want to achieve)

Life has a way of constantly messing with our plans. But, by being prepared for adversity, trusting the process and rewarding ourselves properly, we can increase our chances of success. Remember, habits are a journey, not a destination. By focusing on the things we can control and being mindful of the rewards we choose to motivate ourselves, we're setting ourselves up for success. So, let's take what we've learned and use it to help us grow into the people we want to become!

(1) Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset. Ballantine Books.