When people from all walks of life start something new there tends to be excitement, anticipation, fear and motivation.
“I can’t wait to try this!”
“I am so excited to start this!”
“The new me begins today!”
Unfortunately the thrill and excitement of starting something new, like a training program, does not last forever. You have to wake up early…. Groan…. It’s cold outside…. Groan…. My legs hurt…. Groan…. Is this really necessary?…. Groan….
Sound familiar? You were so amped up and ready to start but when you realized there would be sacrifice and discomfort you found excuses to quit. You did this once… Not a big deal… Whoops it happened a second time, a third time… wait a second… Now everyone knows you as THAT girl or guy. You are the person who starts and never finishes. You are the quittiest of quitters!
How does this happen? Your brain wants to be happy, it wants you to be happy and when you are trying to create a new, good for you habit, your brain sometimes works against you. A diet, a harder training regime, new commitments - they are all good for you but cause distress in your supercomputer upstairs. These new activities cause conflict and your brain supplies you with excuse after excuse to help restore balance so you can avoid this distress. Excuses appear, habits form and you become powerless to resist. You actually practice quitting - and guess what? You are damn good at it!
Stop quitting. Sounds simple but as we all know it is not that easy. How can you break the habit and end the cycle of suckiness?
Map out your quit. Time to become Kojak and investigate the moment you decided to throw in the towel. What part of the activity/exercise/game was it? Was there a trigger? How much discomfort did you have? Do this for every quitfest that you can recall. Identify your breaking points, recognize patterns and plan to get past those sticking points. You do not have to plan not to quit, you have to plan to get past the moment where you normally quit. Once you get past that moment it is far easier to convince yourself to keep going. You made it this far right?
Do what you need to do in the morning! This is not a new concept, but the science behind it is pretty solid. You are far more likely to quit something in the afternoon vs the morning. Why? Your brain is a muscle and like other muscles in use it gets tired after a day of use. When your brain is fatigued it is more likely to fall victim to one of your excuses. It is not as strong as it needs to be to convince yourself to get off your ass and do what you need to do.
Use Nudge Theory. Nudge theory is one of my favourite topics and is a very powerful tool to use in motivation and action. A nudge is having a friend or coach sending you reminders and notes to spur action. It is not a fun experience to have to report back to your coach or friend and tell him/her that you did not make your session. Guilt is a powerful motivator. Another form of a nudge is simply laying out your clothes and having everything prepared to ensure a smooth transition towards your training session. By preparing everything ahead of time you are reducing the possibility of finding an excuse to not go.
Give yourself a comfort blanket. Allow 1 “quit card” per week. This will give you some security in knowing that at any point during the week you can throw in the towel and not be judged. Think of it as your mulligan or your get out of jail free card. Having this piece of security in your back pocket is amazingly powerful and you will be surprised how often you refuse to use the “quit card”
At the end of the day, quitting the quit is a tough thing to do. You become entrenched in a habit of giving up. Try these steps in order to help break your bad habit and point you in the direction of awesome super athlete! After all, nobody likes a quitter.