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Embrace the Suck

Last blog we discussed cultivating new habits. Today I want to chat with you about keeping on track with your new habits which can be challenging for so many of us. Humans have an intrinsic need for instant gratification, this I want it, and I want it now mentality. Psychologists call this the Pleasure Principle, and it is the driving force in humans to gratify wants, needs, and urges. It is powerful and part of how we are hardwired!

When creating new habits this need for instant gratification can be a major roadblock. When the scale isn’t moving, when our bank accounts aren’t growing, and so on. It is hard for humans to delay gratification while sludging through the less appealing parts of the process. “Embracing the suck” is a phrase often heard within the military that I feel really captures the mindset needed to get through the work needed to gain results in the process of creating new habits. Embracing the suck means to consciously accept or appreciate something that is unpleasant or unavoidable. Or in less daunting terms, you have to accept that to meet big goals you are going to have to embrace discomfort, whether it be physical as your body adjusts to a new workout routine, or mentally when you decide to forgo the new iPhone or car that you want to save money and build up your bank account. Growth takes time and doesn’t just happen, and leaning into the process, as uncomfortable as it can be, is the best way to make it to the other side.

So how can we “embrace the suck” and push past the human instinct for instant gratification? We use that drive to fuel our resolve. We flip our natural instinct on its head. Instead of focusing on delaying gratification and using straight-up willpower, we find ways to feel success through the process and make those good habits more attractive! We use the pleasure principle to our advantage.

So how can we achieve that? Here are just a few ideas:

1. Small Rewards: You can create a physical reward system for yourself. Set smaller goals within the big one and give yourself a treat for accomplishing it. Using weight loss as an example. Instead of focusing on the pounds and whether the scale moves, maybe reward yourself with a “cheat” meal after you stick to your new diet and exercise plan for 7 days. Or if your goal is to save $10,000, for each $1,000 you add to your savings allow yourself to do something special (within reason) like go to a movie, buy that expensive coffee you like, a new shirt, and so on. This method can be great for keeping you motivated through a long process but be very conscientious with this one. Make sure your rewards do not undo or undermine your process. So, if you are trying to save money and hit your first goal earning your reward, it shouldn’t be something super pricey that takes away what you just put in. Or if your goal is weight loss don’t go on a binge eating spree, rather allow yourself ONE meal that you miss. It is easy to let the reward get out of hand, so be intentional with the rewards you choose and make sure they are not conflicting with your end goal.

2. Consequences: For some, the threat of consequences is more motivating than the promise of reward. If this, is you, then use that mentality to help bolster your efforts! One way to do this is by creating a habit contract. Where you write down what you are going to do and when then you give it to someone to hold you accountable. In this contract, you will also set up consequences for not fulfilling your part of the contract. A friend of mine did this with her trainer. If she skipped a class at the next class, she had to do 30 burpees during the break time in class. So, while everyone else was resting, getting water, and catching their breath she had to do 30 burpees in front of the class. (Again, she chose and agreed to the terms of the contract, so she knew when she skipped class what that would mean.).

3. Habit Tracking: As silly as it might sound simply keeping track of a habit can be motivating. An example for me would be the rings on my Apple Watch showing movement, exercise, and stands. People naturally hate to see a good streak broken, and the motivation to see that streak continued can be very strong. For instance, if I can look at my rings and see I have gone 6 days with closing all 3 I am way more motivated to get my workout in on day 7 so I can get my perfect week badge! Then after a week, I want to hit the month and so on. Simply seeing the closed rings on the calendar motivates me to keep going! I am determined to not break the streak!

4. Accountability: Bring someone along for the ride. By putting your goals out there and enlisting an accountability partner or assistant, instantly completing the habit is more attractive and the desire to save face keeps us from “cheating” because someone will know. This accountability keeps you focused on completing the tasks because it is unattractive to fail and not do it. Accountability partners also are a source of encouragement during hard times and can provide outside perspectives that you cannot get otherwise.

Are you wanting to create new habits, reach new goals, or get back on track with goals from your past? Let us know, we love partnering with folks to help them achieve their goals and dreams.

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