We tend to make decisions about a new habit to adopt. But what we lack the most after making a decision is the power of persistence.
Most of us give up too quickly. We’ve made a decision at the beginning of the new year; it is new and existing, something that will change our lives. But when the magic of holidays is gone, so is our will to make it happen.
Or some circumstances in our lives have made us give up the nasty old habit and replace it with a better, healthier one.
But when the circumstance gets better again, we tend to forget about our decision. We return to what has proved as bad for us. We immerse in everyday life and forget to think about even the nearest future. Not to mention ten or twenty years from now.
Is it applicable for you too? Can you think of situations of your life acting like that?
Persistence in Practicing New Habits
Maybe the best time of our lives to adopt a habit is teenage time.
As a teenager, I wasn’t allowed to go to the gym and lift heavyweights. It was too early, and it would not be appropriate for my physical growth. But I’ve wanted my body to be fit, so I decided to practice exercising at home by myself. I was doing pushups, situps, and lifting some small weights to exercise my biceps. I remember my first weight to lift was 1.4 kilograms weight bronze statue of the famous Yugoslavia leader Josip Broz Tito. 🙂
Later I got some real weights, not too heavy, though, 4 and 6 kilograms. Using one small guide with illustrations for bodybuilding, I performed some simple but effective exercises for my arms, back, and legs. And all of it I accomplished at home.
Growing older, for some shorter period, I was visiting the gym. I have always preferred to exercise at home, though, because I could exercise whenever I want. I didn’t have to spend the time walking or driving to the gym, and of course, I saved the money.
By practicing these few exercises, I’ve managed to form my body pretty well. I didn’t build my musculatures to the level that other people do who visit the gym regularly. But it is enough for my body to be in good shape.
The most crucial fact in this short story is my persistence in continuing to exercise every day. I’m 48 now, and I guess I’ve started with this practice at the age of 15, maybe 16. That is thirty-plus years of practicing, and I’m pleased with the results.
I’ve dropped some exercises with time, like situps and lifting weights. I added other ones instead. Every morning, a must for me is short warming up (especially my arms joints) and twenty pushups combined with a few different exercises using pushup bar stands and pullup bar for strength training.
But for most of these thirty years, the only strength training I’ve performed was ten pushups. And that’s it, ten pushups each morning. It is ridiculously little for a day, but notice I’ve been doing it for thirty years each day. Cumulatively it is a lot.
Imagine how you could look like doing ten pushups each morning in a more extended period. It takes only two minutes a day but applying it persistently every day can do a miracle for you.
It is never too late to adopt a new, healthier habit and persistently keep it for the whole life. If you don’t possess a desirable habit from your younger days, but you’ve always admired the people who do, go for it and adopt it by yourself now!
During the past almost two years, I’m eating vegan-only food. It was not a firm decision from the beginning, though. I’ve tried one year period of eating vegan most of the time already a couple of years before. But I quit then. Through this one year trial period, I’ve succumbed to temptation and ate meat or fish a couple of times. However, after I’ve quit, my decision to leave eating meat for good and not taste it ever again was going stronger and stronger until I finally switched to a vegan diet for good.
Now it’s a done deal. You can read more about my story going vegan, what were the catalysts for my decision, as well as about my other health benefits habits here.
Building the persistence on changing habits after decades of your life is challenging but achievable. Once you adopt a new habit, it becomes your lifestyle, and you never think of going back, nor you miss your old habit.
The Persistence Key
What if you’ve decided to quit your bad habit or to introduce a good habit, and after a while, you find it hard to stick to it.
A common motivation killer is being bored with the same repeated action you’ve decided to take. If so, be flexible and variate those repeated actions of a new habit or repeated abstinence of the bad old habit. As long as the purpose is fulfilling, getting the purpose executed can be variated along the way.
E.g., when I was bored by lifting just one weight size, I’ve got another weight and immediately got a fresh motivation for continuing with the exercises.
When I was bored with lifting any kind of weight, I introduced pushups. It is the kind of exercise that fits me, and I’m always motivated to do it. After pushups on my bare palms bored me, I’ve got pushup bar stands and introduced some more exercises.
Try different forms of exercising - at home, outside, at work, and see which one will motivate you to do it persistently. Then adopt it as your habit.
Let’s say you are quitting smoking and find it hard to persist in not having the cigarette. Try with an electronic one as an intermediate solution. After trying the electronic cigarette for a while, you may get bored with it or tired of not having the real cigarette.
Instead of getting back to cigarettes, introduce the days or part of the days when you will not smoke electronic cigarettes. Instead, please yourself with something you love except the cigarettes to keep yourself motivated. Or introduce some different variation that suits you the best.
Gradually, you become more fond of new habits than of old ones. After trying some variations, sticking to new, healthier routines are even easier for you than stubbornly holding to a bad old habit.
You drop one habit, and you introduce a new one instead. In that way, you are, in fact, keeping the habit. You have something to keep you occupied, and keeping you occupied was the purpose of your old routine, too, wasn’t it?
More and more, you become aware of the benefaction of the new habit for you, which makes you even more motivated to keep you going.
Benefits of Being Persistent
Being persistent is one of the most useful characteristics which you can adopt in your life.
Looking back at my life, I can see the benefits of being persistent in many aspects of my life, bringing me a lot of good:
- It was tough to learn always each day, not letting the curriculum to pile up. But I’ve learned persistently and was a good student through all of my primary and secondary school. This behavior gave me the advantage of getting into one of the most prestigious faculties in the country.
- After finishing secondary school, before starting with the faculty, I was obliged to serve the national army. It lasted for one year and significantly impacted my studying habit. Because of it, I fall the first year on the faculty. But despite my studying habit being hurt, I never thought about quitting. Persistently taking exams one by one, my studying habit was back. I’ve finished the faculty and got a job position in the industry of my desire.
- Keeping pace in a more and more challenging business environment is demanding. Adopting changes that always move me out of my comfort zone is quite tough. However, persistently demonstrating professionalism and care for twenty plus years in the same company builds my trust and loyalty to other people, not just at work but also in other areas of my life.
- Working on a relationship is fiction for many people. Jumping from one relationship into another after discovering the slightest incompatibility between you and your partner is not the key to happiness. I’ve had, and I still have a lot of incompatibilities with my wife. But, persistently working on adapting to our marriage and being patient, I’ve been happily married for more than a decade and a proud father of two children.
- Caring for health is often the latest priority for most people. Excessive eating, consuming junk food, drinking alcohol, and physical inactivity are widespread these days. Excuses for such behavior are numerous. On the other hand, you will gladly invest in better fuel for your car and its maintenance. You have to do so as otherwise you may be hit by some extra costs for repair. What about your health? If you lose it, you will not have it back so easily as buying a new car. Maybe not for any money in the world. Persistently exercising and introducing new ways of keeping my body fit, I’m maintaining a healthy look and spirit. Persistently choosing vegan food makes me feel compassionate to animals and our planet while bringing me long-term health and longevity.
- Driving passively in your car to work helps the earth be a more polluted place to live. This is an especially warning situation for big cities where combustion engine car usage is the most significant air pollution source. I’m riding the bike to work every day, contributing positively to both ecology and my health. I’m using it persistently as my sole means of transportation to work no matter of weather conditions. I’ve invested some time in getting the equipment for protection against rain, cold, and heat, so I’m prepared for any situation on the road. It brings me an indescribable satisfaction passing by traffic jams on rainy Monday mornings, freely riding my bike.
Just look around your life and see the benefits you’ve got by being persistent. Can you recognize areas of your life where you are not, but you should be, though?
If you have a hard time sticking to a new desirable habit, try introducing variations in the new habit implementation.
Don’t expect quick results though, persistence, aka patience, is the key. 😉