We all know that “day one” feeling—the motivation and energy we have the day after swearing off the fast food and signing up for our new gym membership. We crush all of our goals and go to bed making projections about how we’re going to look and feel after 100 days like this and then 200 days like this. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve pulled up a calendar to see how much progress I was going to be making 6 months or a year into the future. But by the end of day 4 or 5, that initial surge inevitably wears off. I may skip a workout or swing by a drive-through for dinner. Doubt will start to creep in—that devious saboteur who lives deep in the scarred recesses of my mind. I’ll begin to question how long I’ll really be able to keep this up. Feeling scared and weak and guilty for the drive-through slip, I’ll decide that I’ve failed today. And when I wake up the next morning, I’ll decide I might as well eat that leftover birthday cake for breakfast because that’s what a failure does.
Even though I’ve lived this experience a million times, I’m wise enough now to know that demanding perfection from myself ends up killing me and my goals.
The path to healthy living is laid with the bricks of consistency
But it’s not about being perfect; it’s about making better choices when we can and being able to recover when we don’t meet our goals. If you go out and drink a little too much and order from that one weird pizza shop that’s open until 4am, it doesn’t make a you a failure incapable of living a healthy life. It makes you human. But the next day doesn’t have to be wasted. Get back on track and make sure that the aggregate of your choices is in line with your goals. Doing the right thing 80% of the time is consistent enough to make real, sustainable changes. And once you get enough positive momentum going in the direction of your goals, you’ll find that you don’t need day-one motivation to succeed, because you will have developed something even better: the discipline to pick yourself back up every time you fall down.