Step 5: Practice Compassionate Consistency
We have found our direction, our discovered our why, changed our identity, and planned our first move. The final step before you begin to change your habits is to remember that consistency is the key to successful, long-lasting results. Temptations are everywhere, and it is important to recognize this BEFORE you start making changes. I see many patients that start off habit changes with good intentions but crumble after the first slice of cake, missed gym appointment, or lack of immediate results. Knowing this ahead of time will save you from being blindsided by difficult moments down the road.
Multiple studies show that consistency in prioritizing your health goals is what gets you where you want to be. A good example is to think of professional athletes, musicians, or the strongest person at your gym. They didn’t get there overnight or solely because they were naturally gifted. They all put in consistent effort over years to reach that point; and most importantly, they all struggled at times. We tend to see the end goal and forget the journey between.
Here are a few tips on helping you with consistency:
- Have a physical calendar that you can keep track of this new habit — each day you are successful, make a large “X” on the date. Having a visible, tangible habit tracker can be just enough motivation to keep you
- Do something every day that is progress toward your goal, no matter how If you’re trying to replace one meal with a salad but forgot to bring it one day, add a vegetable such as carrots or broccoli to your snack when you get home. Or if you missed the gym, do at least one push-up at home.
- Remove obvious triggers that go against your new Throw out junk food in the house, take batteries out of TV remote, place your smartphone in another room.
Lastly, it is imperative to practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. How can we expect to make lasting changes if our biggest, most vocal critic is ourselves? If you’re struggling, talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend. Skipping the gym or eating something that goes against this new identity does not automatically reveal something awful about yourself. One day does not ruin the progress you’ve already made. Just recognize that it happened, use the experience as a learning opportunity, and then forgive yourself and carry on. We cannot and should not expect to be perfect in this new change.