If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Never give up. Quitters never win. While you’ve likely heard them all and they may seem cliché, there is some truth to these idioms. In fact, studies have shown that when you view your struggles to succeed as tried attempts instead of failures, you’re more likely to succeed the next time – so long as you try again.
Welcome back to the Healthy Habit Hacks blog series! We’re here to help turn your healthy intentions into habits. This month’s topic is, Keep trying – whether you’re embarking on forming a healthy habit or breaking a bad one, persistence prevails.
Forming healthy habits?
Be persistent but also be realistic. Many behavior change experts agree that when setting out to form a healthy habit, it’s best to keep it real. Often, we tend to be overzealous in setting our goals and take on more than is reasonable. You most certainly want to have a can-do attitude but also do a gut check and ask yourself if your goal is achievable.
For example, if your vision is to exercise regularly and you set a goal to work out every day; yet, today you only work out once or twice a week – you may want to reconsider. Instead, make your goal: “I will work out Tuesday and Saturday for the next three weeks.” After three weeks, assess your goal. If you met it, bump it up and choose three or four days that you’ll work out for the next three weeks. If you didn’t meet the Tuesday/Saturday goal, keep trying. You could restate your goal and choose two other days that will work – or you could try reducing the amount of time you work out on Tuesdays and Saturdays and see if that makes your goal more achievable.
Remember, it’s persistence that pays off: be confident yet realistic – and when you don’t meet your goal, adjust as needed – and try again!
Breaking bad habits?
When breaking bad habits, again persistence wins, especially when life gets in the way. Again, having a can-do attitude is good but, if you don’t succeed, accept that things happen and don’t take it personally. There are situations out of your control. Experts would recommend it’s best to consider setbacks as a learning point and view your missed goal as a trial (not a failure!) and try again. But before you do give it another go, adjust your plan.
For example, say Joe currently smokes cigarettes and wants to quit – he’s feeling confident and motivated. He planned out his quit date, consulted with his doctor, purchased a supply of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches, and successfully quit for two weeks. But, at day 14 while attending his family reunion, he couldn’t overcome the strong urge to light up a cigarette while catching up with his favorite uncle.
After a month of smoking again, Joe’s wife Michelle points out to him that he didn’t fail due to his own willpower, he was put in a situation that he hadn’t considered. Moreover, those two weeks he did quit weren’t a failure – they were simply a successful trial run! Michelle suggests he give it another go.
Joe’s confidence is back, and he decides to adjust his mindset and plan. In addition to using patches, he also buys NRT gum to use when he has intense urges to help him get through that craving. He also decides to plan ahead for social events by informing his friends and family of his new smoke-free lifestyle so that they are aware and can support him when he gets together with them.
If you’re breaking bad, remember, persistence pays but so does planning. Keep a can-do attitude. Remind yourself that each attempt is a trial run. Most of all, never give up – you can do this!
As a reminder, we’ve shared these monthly hacks so far this year: