Start, Stop & Change: it was working

You’ve experienced this, right? You were doing something that was working, getting the results you wanted, and so you stopped.


Maybe you were…

  • Following a budget
  • Keeping a food journal
  • Turning devices off an hour before bed
  • Meeting your quota of cold calls
  • Writing for 30 minutes a day
  • Laying out your workout clothes the night before

It was working.

You were getting results, building momentum, and feeling good. But then…you stopped. You stopped doing the very thing that was working.

Why do we sabotage ourselves this way? More importantly, how can we stop?

Here are four strategies for staying the course and getting the results you want.

Renew your commitment.

Be clear about your why on a daily basis. It’s difficult to sustain an activity, especially a change in behavior or new habit you’re trying to form, when it’s disconnected from the larger context of why it’s important to you. Don’t let the behavior change or new habit become just another To Do in a vacuum. Keep the activity you’re trying to sustain firmly connected to its larger purpose and meaning in your life.

Be a scientist, not just the subject.

When you’re only the subject of your life it’s difficult to stay curious, notice what works and what doesn’t, and be willing to experiment. So you need to be both subject and scientist. Rather than throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble, being a scientist means you’ll stay curious when you get off track, make adjustments, and experiment until you get the results you seek.

Track your progress.

One way to keep doing what’s working is to track your progress. Tracking a streak of days when you’ve completed a task or undertaken an activity is motivating because you’ll want to keep the streak alive. Be sure to track your streak visually. You can do this by simply marking a big red X on a calendar or using one of the many apps available to reinforce the streak-based behavior you’re trying to encourage.

Feel proud of yourself.

Make it a point to tune in to how it feels to set a goal and then take incremental steps toward its achievement. It feels good to do what you’ve set out to do. It feels good to avoid the energy drain of disconnect between what you say you want and what you actually do. You’re probably prone to beating yourself up for falling short. Now is the time to acknowledge and celebrate your forward progress as you build your discipline muscle.

Will you use one or all of these strategies so you can keep doing what’s working and put an end to self-sabotage?