Do you know those days when everything that can possibly go wrong does?
Yesterday I had one of those days.
I wasted a ton of time after my Mastermind meeting on things that didn’t matter that day.
Left late to go swimming, missed my girlfriend’s call, my phone died, dinner with a friend ran late, and then I had to work out tech issues until late at night.
After 33 days of waking up at 5 AM consecutively, I bombed it.
This post is about what you can do the next time you fail a habit.
Step 1: Deal with it
Once I came to grips with the fact that waking up at 5 AM would hurt me more than it would do good, I accepted it.
Don’t waste any time fighting the failure, once you know it’s happening.
I went to bed at 12 AM, set my alarm for 8 hours later and made the resolution to give my body the sleep it needs to be healthy.
I woke up late. That means at 6 AM. Thanks to my new routine I couldn’t fall asleep again and got up. Nevertheless, my 33 day streak of waking up at 5 AM is over.
Want to wave goodbye to my streak in Commit app? Sure.
(the app that’ll help you find your true calling)
What can you learn from this?
- Once your mind accepts your failure, you can resolve to do what’s needed to best live with it. Your body will follow.
- It ain’t so bad.
In the end, this just cost me an hour, and I actually felt well rested.
If you’re honest with yourself, you know that you can always tell when you’re going down.
Once you know you are, stop fighting it.
Accept it and use your energy to deal with it, instead of trying to keep afloat a sunken ship.
Step 2: Pretend nothing happened
The next thing I did was to continue as usual.
Was it tempting to just abandon my morning routine altogether and waste away the day watching movies? Sure.
The biggest danger lies not in failing a habit, but in allowing yourself to fail more of your other habits.
Even after I woke up late, I continued as normal. I did my routine, got ready, had breakfast, and started writing for Four Minute Books.
Instead of complaining and making excuses, I published anyways.
When you fail, just pretend nothing happened, and go about your day as usual.
This will prevent you from completely derailing and throwing your efforts with other habits down the toilet.
For example, when you want to quit eating junk food, but find yourself munching on a BigMac late Friday night, don’t keep obsessing about the BigMac on Saturday morning.
Thinking compulsively about your past wrong behavior does not help you encourage future good behavior.
To the contrary, it makes it more likely you’ll go straight for Pizza Hut the next day, because “now you’ve slipped up anyway, might as well take a few days off.”
But taking time off usually means we cut ourselves a lot more slack than we intend to and you might end up not exercising and going to bed late for the next few days, just because of a single BigMac.
Pretending as if nothing had happened will let you stay in your routine and you can keep continuing with your good habits as usual.
Step 3: Plan for next-day success
Missing two days in a row is just about the only thing you can’t do.
It must not happen.
Repeat after me:
…miss two days…
…in a row!”
Step 2 will already help with this, because keeping up business as usual will automatically lead you back to your habit.
But there is always more you can do.
For example after I woke up late today, I’m seeing a friend at 3 pm (remember Ted?), which means I have to quit work by then.
Does it stress me to cut work short? Yes.
Will I feel bad for not getting to a bunch of things today? Absolutely.
But it will get me back on track.
If postponing a bunch of to-dos until tomorrow is what it takes for me to get up at 5 AM again tomorrow, then I’m willing to take the hit.
And you must be too.
Maybe cook a healthy dinner right after breakfast in advance, if you want to avoid another pizza incident. Bribe a friend with $10 to come pick you up at your house for a run.
Whatever it takes to get back on track – do it.
As my friend James would say:
The only predictor of a successful tomorrow is a successful today. ~ James Altucher
I was lucky, that meeting with Ted had been scheduled before, and I’m tired today anyway, but I also told my girlfriend to text me at 5 PM, so I can stop work then at the latest.
Take precautions. Do what is difficult when it’s easy.
So you woke up late today – here’s how to fix it
The next time you fail to do one of your habits, don’t beat yourself up.
Don’t cry, don’t complain, don’t make excuses.
Just do these 3 things:
Step 1: Accept it, so you can do what’s best for you and move on.
Step 2: Pretend like it never happened.
Step 3: Do whatever it takes to succeed the next day.
That’s what pros do and what you have to do, if you want to take the fastest way that leads you back on track.
Did you fail a habit recently?
What was it?
Did you derail? Or get right back on track?
Let’s discuss in the comments and help each other with doing better next time!