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We’re two weeks into the new year and you did it again didn’t you? You’re still hitting snooze on your alarm every morning and ordered a takeout three times last week even though you swore this is the year you finally get your diet right. Despite all the promises you made it’s still the same you that got blackout drunk two weeks prior saying that this will be “your year”.

There’s a weird aura around January 1st, it’s like the years equivalent to a Monday (which ironically enough did actually land on a Monday this year). It feels like some magical day where the slate of the past is completely wiped clean and you’re free to repaint yourself into whatever image you like on the blank canvas that is the New Year. You feel empowered to leave your past errors and have the life you always told yourself you deserve. And every time, without fail, you somehow fuck it up and tell yourself, “next Monday it’ll different”. After which the cycle restarts all over until somehow it’s December 31st again.

As someone who’s been there time and time again, finding myself setting the same same goals year in and year out, having to begrudgingly come to terms that I once again let myself down, I had to get to find a better way of doing things. Over the course of last year I had to break down the core issue as to why the same pattern kept happening over and over again. And more importantly how to stop it.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

-Albert Einstein (allegedly)

And in my journey of trying to stop living everyday like the movie Groundhog Day I’ve come to find that being stagnate comes down to a few very basic reasons. If you’ve ever been in the same boat I can almost guarantee you it’s for 1 of 3 of the following reasons, if not all of them combined in one shape or another since they all relate to one another.

you hold yourself to too high a standard:

We’re all guilty of it, setting New Year’s resolutions so crazy and outlandish that it sounds more like wishful thinking than an actual achievable goal. “This year I’m going to lose 20kg, learn Spanish, write an 8 part book series and maybe solve world hunger if I have some spare time”. Sounds familiar, right? And it happens every year, you load yourself up with these massive expectations without a practical game plan in place. It’s like going to climb Mount Everest and only packing a pair of slippers, ambitious, but not very practical. At some point repeatedly setting unrealistic goals goes from being ambitious to straight up delusional.

But despite setting such lofty and ambitious goals every year you somehow convince yourself this will be the year you get it done, despite years of evidence that prove otherwise. And sure enough once you (inevitably) hit your first roadblock- a missed gym session or a day without writing – and all of a sudden you’re spiraling out of control. In an instant you abandon your grand ambitious plans and throw them to the wayside in favor of old habits.

The reason? More than likely you have an “all-or-nothing” kind of mentality that you’ve instilled in yourself, possibly from watching too many hours of David Goggins reels. You’ve anchored your self-worth and success to an impossibly perfect standard that you’ve set for yourself or that has been sub-consciously set for you by outside influences, be that friends, family or most likely, the internet. So by that metric, everything less than absolute perfection feels like a total disaster or some kind of failure. The worst part is you have a front row seat to all of own missteps and bad days to judge yourself on. Whereas everyone else’s bad days are like a V.I.P club you don’t have access to, meaning you don’t know what’s going on behind the closed doors of their life. You are your own harshest critic and for some reason you’ve decided if you can’t get it right you shouldn’t even try.

The truth is no one is perfect, but the ones who appear to be don’t let one bad day throw them off their goals. Once you learn to deal with one bad day, you’ll know how to deal with the next one and the one after that. Because they will always happen, learning how to deal with them is far more important than learning how to do something with no mistakes. Not being perfect should not be considered a failure, but giving up certainly is.

“It’s not over when you lose, it’s over when you quit.”

-Some edgy motivational page on Instagram about success.

If it’s not instant it’s not sexy:

We live in a world of instant everything – instant coffee, instant streaming, instant satisfaction. Over time convenience has turned from a luxury to a necessity, we’ve become conditioned to expect it in every aspect of our lives. This need for instant convenience has changed us without us ever noticing. We’ve grown impatient with everything around us, even ourselves. Through no fault of our own we have lost the ability to stick with an activity if it doesn’t yield immediate results. Don’t look like a chiseled Greek God after a week of dieting and gym? Pffft what a waste of time, hand me the domino’s menu. Can’t do the guitar solo from Stairway to Heaven after a month of practicing guitar? Clearly it’s not meant to be. Didn’t go viral with your first YouTube video? clearly you’re a talentless fuck who should just stick to your 9-5.

I’ve been there, like quite literally those aren’t random examples those are all personal things I’ve tried and failed at and have said to myself to justify throwing in the towel instead of pushing through the ugly learning phase. For some reason it’s just needlessly embarrassing to try something for the first time and be so bad at it that you never want to do it ever again. Which is in large part why I’ve never properly developed any of my dozen interests that I’ve had over the years.

So how do you get over this vicious cycle of try, fail, give up, repeat? I wish I had something to say here that was completely revolutionary that’s never been thought of or said before that will give you the secret key to life…but I don’t. In fact I’m going to tell you the same tired cliché you’ve probably heard a hundred times. Why? Because I hate to say it, but it works, and if you try it you’ll be as equally annoyed when you realize it’s the most basic thing in the world.

Like the tired saying goes; meaningful change is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires patience, persistence, and a hell lot of boredom. The real transformation happens in those small, mundane, almost unnoticeable day-to-day efforts that accumulate over time. So next time you’re beating yourself up for not seeing immediate results, remember that change is happening – it’s just not in the rapid, flashy way you’ve been conditioned to expect or that you can brag about to your insta followers every week.

not having a habit of makings habits:

Most New Year’s resolutions fail because we underestimate the power of habit. A new resolution is supposed to be something you do over the course of the YEAR, not over the month of January.  We think we can jump into a completely new lifestyle overnight. You tell yourself, “A model like body only requires two things, eating well and exercise, how hard can that be?” Yes technically it’s only two things, but we both know the reality of doing those two things consistently is a different story.

Now the good news is it’s not just you that can’t keep a habit to save your life, see the thing is our brains are biologically wired to resist change, mine, yours and everyone else’s. We’re creatures of habit, because habits means safety in to our brains, and deviating from those habits could be perceived as dangerous, even if we actively know the new habit serves us better than the old one, hence the saying “old habits die hard”.

It’s why you shouldn’t listen to those “how to get your life together” TikTok’s the algorithm judgingly sends your way while you’re scrolling at 3am. You know the ones, the ones that tell you if you start doing these 7 things from tomorrow you’ll be a completely new person in six months. It’s just not sustainable, your brain can’t adapt to so much sudden change in routine, especially when it knows it doesn’t have to.

However, I do understand the temptation of trying to form 7 new habits at once, you want to catch up. You feel like you have to play catch up with all the “successful” people you see, either around you or online, who seemingly have their whole life together. And if that’s your mentality then the fact of it is you’re not going to be able to catch up, at least not overnight. Not even Usain Bolt can win a 100 meter race when the other contestants are already a step away from the finish line.

Become good at 1 thing, instead of trying to be mediocre at 7 at once. Once you’ve become competent in one thing you’ll know you have the competence and confidence to become good at another. Will it be slow and frustrating? Absolutely! But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that time is going to pass by regardless of what you, me or anyone else on this planet does. So if the choice is between staying the same and getting even 1% better, no matter how slow, boring and inconsequential it may seem, I will always choose the second option.

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