Forming good habits by knowing your limits

Have you ever thought to yourself “I want to get fit, I'm going to start going to the gym”. So you start going, it's tough but you push through. Then after a few weeks you miss one day and tell yourself it’s fine, you can miss one day. Then you miss two days, and so on until you just stop going entirely.

What happened? You were overly ambitious and you got burned out. Unfortunately, for most people who lose their motivation, that’s where their story ends. They won’t be going back to the gym for quite a while, if ever.

This doesn’t just apply to exercise though, it holds true for any activity. Maybe you’re trying to learn a new language, eat healthier, build a garden, whatever. If it starts to feel like too much work, you’ll stop doing it. The obvious solution is to give up, that’s easy.

But, if you really want to form a long lasting habit, giving up isn’t an option. Forcing yourself to slog through something you really don’t want to do isn’t good either. No matter how strong willed a person is, eventually they’ll get tired. So what can you do?

Don’t work so hard. If going to the gym four times a week is tiring you out, then go once a week. Start small and build up to your goals. Rushing will only hurt you.

If there’s something you want to try, consider how much time you can commit. Then give it a trial run. If it feels like you’re not going to be able to keep it up, then cut back your commitment. Once you feel comfortable with your time, set yourself a calendar reminder for three to six months from now.

This reminder is to check in and see if you’ve actually managed to stick with it. If you’re still doing it at that point, then you can consider increasing your time commitment. If you ended up giving up, then this is a reminder to give it another shot. But this time don’t work so hard.

If you were trying to eat healthy every day, instead try eating healthy once a week for example. Then do the same thing, set yourself a reminder for a few months into the future. If you keep doing this, eventually you’ll be able to stick with it – or realize that you just don’t want to do it.

Most people know their physical limits, you wouldn’t try sprinting for an hour. You could probably walk for an hour though, and maybe even jog for an hour. Your habits are the same, you need to figure out your limit so you don’t exhaust yourself.

If you don’t know your limit you won’t be able to finish a marathon. But, once you figure it out, it’s easy. Don’t worry about how fast other people are going, you need to pace yourself. You’ll get there eventually.

Pierce Zaifman

Android app developer. Hates wasting time and takes satisfaction in improving efficiency in all aspects of life. Also enjoys helping people solve their problems.

London, Ontario, Canada

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