Struggling to Stick to Your Goals?
Adulting is nothing more than becoming our own parents.
I don’t mean turning into your parents, I mean taking over the job now that they’re off the hook.
Because when we pick off all the crusted BS we’ve caked around our sensitive cores, we discover the hard truth: It’s not fear of failure that holds us back, it’s fear of hard work.
That’s the human condition, we’re frail and we’ve invented a million things to help keep us that way. Why? Because it’s comfy AF.
Remember falling asleep wherever you pleased and having some trusted adult — not only protect you with their life — but also cart you to bed?
Those were the days.
But that all comes crashing down, incident by incident. Suddenly we’re being held responsible for our actions and hearing stuff like, “you know better”.
I do? What’s this horrible feeling?…oh, hi Shame.
Taking responsibility for our own lives amid infinite factors out of our control is hard. Sprinkle in some existential questions, and well — it’s nap-time, right?
Don’t worry, kid— we all feel this way.
We’re all tired. Tired of trying to keep our house clean, our kids alive, our partners happy, our car running, our pets from eating our shit, our job, our bodies in shape, our mouths fed, our minds rested, our creativity stimulated, and our friends around.
(Just writing that list required another shot of espresso.)
Our kid-brains want to tantrum. Slam the bedroom door, lock it, and curl up under the covers with pizza and ice cream and movies.
You just lit up a little, didn’t you? Me too…
But that’s no way to live (except on Sundays).
Three pillars your kid-brain needs to succeed
Though it may not feel like it, you do have authority over the part of you that resists work. We simply need a system to keep that little cutie from fighting what’s good for them.
There are three basic elements that make up the foundation:
Remember how hard life is? Just thinking about it is enough to curl into the fetal position.
And the last thing we want is to add another task to our to-do list — another expectation to load on our shoulders and crush us flat.
So the first pillar is pretty obvious — keep it simple. In most cases, the best way to do this is to set yourself up when you’re already being productive.
- Want to eat healthy? Meal prep for the week. BAM. All of your food choices are made for each day, no decisions to muck up when you’re feeling weak.
- Want to get up on time? Put your alarm next to the first task you want to do in the morning. BAM. You’re up and poised. (In the same vein, make sure that task is ready. Writing? Alarm next to an already open laptop, blank page up, cursor blinking. Coffee? Alarm next to the machine, which is locked, loaded, and ready to brew.)
- Want to go to the gym first thing? Have your bags packed, and gym clothes laid out. (Honestly, I even go so far as to pile them up in the order I put them on. Double easy.)
- Want more out of your workout? Plan your routine before stepping foot in the gym. (SO much time is wasted wandering and wondering.)
The point is to not give your brain the opportunity to think.
Once the gears start turning with questions like “what do I need for this task?”, the kid starts protesting that it’s already too hard to go through with. And when we’re tired, that sounds legit AF.
Beat that lazy gene at it’s own game by keeping your system consistent. Know you need to be in bed by nine o’clock every weeknight to get the right amount of sleep? Do it — NO EXCEPTIONS.
Repetition gets boring and battling is exhausting. In this case, that means the kid is going to tire of that routine and eventually give in.
Consistency is gold when it comes to keeping resistance in check. It lets the kid know that this isn’t going away, no matter how hard they protest. So, the easier route (always the kid’s goal) will become the one you’ve laid out.
Whenever you’re not feeling up to the task in the first few weeks of a new goal, remember that this is the worst of it. You’re beating the kid into submission, and you already know what their willpower is like — LOL.
Patience isn’t just a virtue — it’s thee virtue.
Kids don’t have any, it’s not in their nature. Everything takes too long as is. So, it’s up to you to cultivate extra patience — some for your goal, and some for dealing with the kid.
The beautiful thing about patience is that once you’ve done it, it’s easier to pull up when you need it. Like a muscle, it grows stronger with use. You don’t run out — contrary to popular belief.
Can you remember the last time you exercised yours?
I have to drive a three-hour commute daily. That has pumped my patience like never before. And I’m an infinitely better driver for it. That said, nothing has ever made my patience stronger than fasting.
Eating is so ingrained in our culture, especially in convenience, that fasting is a serious struggle. But once you’ve done it — even intermittently for a week — you are no longer a slave to cravings and poor decisions. You develop the stamina to simply say no.
And that patience can be applied to all forms of instant gratification that keep us from our long-term goals.
Know that your kid-brain will fight — they want that quick dopamine hit because they aren’t capable of understanding the joys of abstaining for bigger rewards. You are. You have to keep telling them no, and being firm about it.
Some days you’ll be stronger than others, but the beginning is always the hardest, and you have to use your patience muscle to remind the kid that the reward will come. But only if you stick with it.
Go forth, sweet kid-brains
In the meantime, make a list of rewards you can enjoy that don’t interfere with your current goals. Train your kid-brain with these treats to help you both along. These goals are aren’t going anywhere, and the kid isn’t growing up — so it’s vital to work out a system that integrates both.
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