Maybe you know the joke:
A customer comes into a pub and orders a beer. As he takes the first sip, he looks at the wall behind the bar and he spots a sign that say: “Tomorrow beer for free.” A smile and joy about a free beer spreads and the guest decides to come back the next day. Arriving at the bar, he sees the sign and realises …
Isn’t the same dynamic happening to new habits we want to establish?
Tomorrow I’ll control my sugar intake. Tomorrow I will do sport. Tomorrow I’ll smoke less. Tomorrow I will call a friend again. Tomorrow I’ll go to bed on time …
And so it happens that nothing happens. Because we have fallen for the morning phenomenon.
But even worse than the fact that we don’t change anything is that we lose credibility in front of our inner elephant, our subconscious – which also means ourselves.
Imagine that a good friend promises you something – e.g. to go running with you once a week. And in week 1 he cancels – “but next week is scheduled!.” Week 2 goes by and you get another cancellation, with the addition that he is so sorry. Week 3, same thing happens. How likely do you think it is to happen?
That’s what you do to yourself when you keep putting off things that are important to you. At the end, your project sits only symbolically on your calendar or to-do list – and your elephant doesn’t even twitch any more, or get any sort of enthusiasm. It won’t happen anyway.
Yes, all beginnings are difficult – but
“The beginning is half of the whole.”
So that you don’t lose faith in yourself and your self-efficacy, it is important that you take action – not tomorrow, but now.
If you recognise yourself in the tomorrow phenomenon, try the following steps to get going:
- Seriously – do you really want it? Basically, the question is why something that is supposedly so important to you always has to give way to other things. If you don’t have time for your new habit, it simply means that something else has won the race for your precious time. Something else seems to have been more important to you. Was it? Did you consciously decide against what you wanted to do and for what took its place? If this happens often, it is worth asking yourself again how important your plans really are. If, for example, you regularly prefer a social evening to a sports session, perhaps simply being with friends is more important to you? What do you really want?
- Max-Med-Min: I already wrote about this in the article about being overwhelmed: choose small steps. Small steps are better than no steps! When you decide to change something, it is best to set a Max, Med and Min goal – and make sure that you achieve the Min goal. For example, if you want to change your eating habits, you can resolve to cook healthy food 5x/week (max), eat a handful of fruit 2x/day (med) or eat an apple (or other fruit you like) every day (min).
- Agile Goals: Plan in a way that withstands change. Plan concretely, but not too detailed. Running 7 km in 40 minutes every Wednesday at 5.30 pm might be a bit too detailed. What if it rains cats and dogs on Wednesday? What if you are not feeling well? What if you have to work overtime? What if you have a cool invitation on Wednesday? It would be better, for example, if you want to run regularly, to set yourself x times a week for a longer and x times for a shorter running session. Then make sure that you do the number of times per week – even if it’s only 10-15 quick minutes (see point 2) – but run!
Don’t wait for tomorrow – get your beer today!