So I’ve never seen this particular aspect of self-discipline written about before, but I have this feeling that all of us have fallen into this trap at some point or other. This trap is: trying to “Only Do Good Behaviour Forever” instead of just setting a good habit and keeping it.
You’ll end up entirely burnt out, exhausted, bitter.
All of us carry around this idea in our heads of what “perfect behavior” looks like, what good diet is, good sleep, good exercise, good internet habits, good reading habits, good productivity habits and on and on and on. And what we mistakenly do is attempt to do all of these things at once, and forever.
Worse: we are able to successfully do this for 2 days, and then we promise ourselves that this is a new way forever, only to get bucked off this spinning carousel, and land on our ass. We made an unreasonable promise to ourselves and we broke it, and so now we have to suffer from the loss to our personal integrity as well.
It’s not that you’re not strong enough, or that you don’t have enough will-power. It’s just that you were not managing your will-power properly.
The golden rule of habit-setting is that you go quicker by going slower.
So it’s recommended that you choose just one or two new habits to be putting in place at any one time. It’s a brand new month now, August, so this is an excellent chance to choose one or two things that you’ll be doing every day for the whole month. If you can do it for the whole month, then the habit is yours to keep.
Now here’s the main message: do just these two things, and otherwise live your life normally.
Let these habits be enough! If you’re waking up on time and going for a run, but you’re still smoking cigarettes, don’t make any promises to yourself about cigarettes. You’re free to smoke less, you’re free to go cold-turkey… but when you’re two weeks in, your will-power runs out, and you’re on the brink of collapse… focus on just the two things and let everything else be as it is.
Just live your life normally, and focus on the longevity of your new habits. There will come a time when they stabilize and you can move on to the next one. There’s enough time for all of it. So please take your time.
If you’re doing too much at once, then you’ll feel a sense of urgency, a sense of hurry to get your 30 days in so the habits stick. Urgency and hurry are the enemies of discipline. Remember, we need to go so slow, that we don’t even care how long it takes.
If you can master this, then your future belongs entirely to you.