by Super Ninja Stella Kaufman
So, it’s February 1. Did you make New Year’s Resolutions for 2014? Are you still working toward those goals?
When we make those New Year’s resolutions to get stronger, thinner, healthier—we are anxious for change to begin. Some of us are looking for quick signs of change. Sometimes that’s possible: I will drink a glass of water with each meal. But sometimes, especially when we are looking to change a long-time behavior, or change our overall health and fitness level, the results take longer.
Whatever your resolution, with almost 100% certainty, you are going to have to exercise this muscle to get there. I am referring to your patience muscle.
For some of us, patience is our weakest muscle. (TWEET THAT SHIT!) We don’t like to wait. We are working hard, damn it, and we want to see change now. We are ready for things to be different and we deserve it. If this sounds familiar, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not all your fault.
In a sense we are being trained—even rewarded—for our impatience. Companies respond to our inability to wait by making technology faster. We are reachable in an instant. We don’t wait for answers anymore. Because—we don’t have to. While this is most definitely awesome, this is causing our patience muscle to atrophy. We simply don’t need it as much as we used to.
What does a weak patience muscle look like? (TWEET THAT SHIT!)
We go the gym. We eat healthy for around a month. And then we don’t see the results right away, so our interest starts to dwindle. We get bored waiting for results to happen. We start to lose interest in the goal. Over 60% of gym memberships go unused. If we stop to think about why, it’s easy to just write people off as lazy. But the truth is, developing new habits takes time.
We need patience. The stronger our patience muscle, the more likely we will be to power through until we see the results we are after.
Seven Tips To Strengthen Your Patience Muscle (TWEET THAT SHIT!)
Break your goal down into smaller pieces.
If your goal is too general, it may be tough to imagine how you’ll get there. If your goal is “eat healthier,” ask yourself more specifically how you plan to do that. Maybe your goal could be “I will eat two vegetables every day.” “I will eat 100g of protein per day.” The more specific you are in your plan, the more likely you are to know what to do.
Draw a roadmap.
Write down your resolutions. Then write down each day 3 things you are going to do toward sticking to that resolution. Look at the list every morning. Read it aloud. Check them off at the end of the day if you did them. Hint: If this seems like too much work, make yourself a template where you can check in on your computer. (These could be the same three things every day.) Make put the goals on your To Do list on your phone, or on a Google calendar and check them off on your phone as you do complete them. (You know you have that phone with you. Yes you do.)
Choose a realistic timeframe for results to appear.
Just like every other muscle, your patience needs time to develop. Be realistic as to what is achievable in what timeframe. There is a debate about how long it takes to create new habits.
If it’s hard for you got get through an entire day not snacking, start with half a day. After you’ve mastered that, then move on. Work that patience muscle in small steps.
Make it easy to succeed.
If you are not a morning person, planning to visit the gym at 5:30a.m. before work might make achieving your goals more difficult. If your goal is to eat two vegetables a day, choose vegetables you like. (If you hate broccoli, choose a different veggie!)
Jeremy Dean, Author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick, offers the following about changing behavior:
“The most important factor is the mental and behavioral strategies you use. Some good strategies include making very specific plans that link actions with situations. For example: “If I feel hungry between meals, then I will eat an apple.” Another is to pre-commit when your self-control is high. For example, if you’re trying to stop playing a game console, give the controller to a friend for safe-keeping. This will help protect you when your self-control is weak.”
Get someone to be accountable to.
Make a calendar with your goals. Share it with a friend. Go to classes with a friend. Check in on each other. Sharing is nice.
Don’t judge yourself if you mess up.
For a lot of us, this is tough. If you are writing it all down, look after a week/2 weeks/month. Maybe you weren’t perfect, but maybe you were successful 8 days out of 10. That’s pretty good, right?
If you aren’t getting the results you want yet, ask yourself if you are doing everything right. If you are, then you know you just need more time, and you are moving in the right direction.
If you feel frustration, take a deep breath. Seriously, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that changing behavior takes time. Working your patience muscle is not easy.
Know that you are not alone. Take a look at some fun facts about New Year’s resolutions.
How about it? Any ideas you’ve tried to strengthen that patience muscle? What’s worked for you? Please share share share with your comments below! We’d love to hear your tricks and tips! (I’ll bepatient while you’re thinking about what to say…)