Well, I am right there with you. I have started countless goals, only to hit a wall and quit. Up until recently, I secretly thought it was just a willpower thing. Each time I quit, I assumed it was because I needed a better plan or more drive. After years of intellectually exploring why I wasn't reaching a particular goal, I finally tuned in to my intuition for answers.
During a meditation, Spirit calmly reminded me of a section in The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte on resistance. I've built a business on listening to Spirit, so off I went to re-read the section. Then the ah-ha came.
I'll paraphrase LaPorte: When you start any positive lifestyle change, your body-mind-Spirit is filled with lots of feel good energy. You feel like you can take on the world in this phase. This rush of positive energy lasts about 3-4 days.
Then resistance happens. By day 5, the rush of feel good energy begins to wane. According to LaPorte, your mind-body-Spirit cannot stay in this "high" because you would literally go crazy. Your mind-body-Spirit has to actually energetically and physically alter their shape to adjust to your positive lifestyle changes.
During this adjustment period, all your efforts start to feel "like a major drag" and change seems less appealing. This is when you quit.
"In actuality, your [mind-body-Spirit] are LOVING it. They're vibrating, shifting transforming....to accommodate your re-calibrated levels of positive, feel good energy. They just need a little more time to reshape themselves. This is resistance. And it's a cause for celebration, because it means that change is happening."
This adjustment period must occur in order for your new habits to stick. The most difficult leg of the journey is the first 16 days, then it gets much easier after that because the new habit has taken root in your unconscious mind. So in order to reach your goal, you have to get through the first 16 days without quitting.
Eureka! It's not about willpower. The key to achieving any goal is being able to maneuver through the resistance period without quitting.
Here are my suggestions for getting through resistance:
1. Make sure you really, really want whatever it is that you are seeking. You have to ask yourself the really hard question: Do I want it bad enough? If you really want it, you'll be less likely to quit when you hit a patch of resistance.
2. Tune in to your intuition and create a fun plan to reach your goal. There are tons of really helpful books, classes and workshops out there that will advise you as to how to reach a particular goal, however not every plan will be the right fit for you. Allow your intuition to guide you toward the most fun plan.
3. Get started. Go all out the first 3-4 days. This is the time to push yourself.
4. When resistance hits, be gentle. This is not the time to push. So many of us try to charge through resistance, which usually leads to getting hurt, sick or feeling completely overwhelmed. Then we quit. Just commit to taking gentle, loving action daily.
5. Have a support system in place. I started a Mastermind with my good friend, Reverend Jennifer Rogers of Inspirasoul. Every day we reach out to each other. Some days her text messages are the only thing that keeps me going. It helps that she is an upbeat, incredibly positive 4 Life Path. 4 Life Paths are the most steadfast folks on the planet. If you can't find a 4, pick someone who is clockwork reliable or hire a professional (like a coach, a teacher or a trainer).
6. Document each day. I bought a calendar just for this purpose. Mark each day's action with a few notes as to how you feel. Know when you've reached day 16. Celebrate. Most importantly, pay attention to patterns that surface. Studying your patterns is a window to your soul and will help you overcome pitfalls in the future.
7. Lastly, for goals that will take time to accomplish or have a lot of steps involved, like... weight loss, getting out of debt, writing a book, applying to grad school... know that you will constantly be revising your plan to get there. What you did the first 16 days, may not be what you're doing on day 90. Know that with each adjustment to the plan you will encounter resistance again. Use the same steps to get through that wave of resistance as you did when you first started. I think this is why it is such a good idea to break a big dream down into incremental goals.
Keep on keeping on. Work at your goal daily and don't quit just because of a little resistance.
Want more on resistance? Listen to my radio program The Healing Clinic, (at its new day and time, Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m., PST) my guest, Allie Theiss and I will be exploring other ways to overcome resistance.