I want to share a mind trick that I use myself when I’m starting new habits. This mind trick helps me to come back and do this activity again, therefore increasing the chances of it actually sticking and becoming a habit.
Everything is hard before it is easy
A few years ago I heard this saying “Everything is hard before it is easy.”
I reflected back on my own experiences and realized that it is, indeed, true. If you think about it, when you were learning to drive, the first time you sat in the driver’s seat, it was hard. Extremely hard. But eventually, it got easy. And now, when you are driving, you don’t really think about it because it’s very easy. The same is true with every other activity. The first time you did it, it was really hard, but eventually, it got easier.
You can be certain it WILL get easy
Everything is hard before it is easy. Even if it’s hard right now, there is a hundred percent probability that it’ll get easy the more you DO it. It will not suck all of the time. It will eventually get much more enjoyable and easier.
Keep this graph in your mind whenever you start a new activity:
Whenever I start an activity, I kind of expect that the first time I do it, I’m gonna be at that top left corner of this graph, where it’s the most difficult. During this first activity, I tell myself, “It is the hardest it’s ever gonna be. It is the hardest I’ll ever have to work on this activity. From the next time forward, it will only get easier. So right now it’s the hardest it’ll ever be. So if I can survive this, it will not get any harder in the future.”
Apply it to starting new habits
So let’s take going to the gym as an example. The first time you go there, it’s gonna be the most difficult exercise experience you will have. The second time you go to the gym, it’s gonna be easier. The third time it’s gonna be easier than the second.
This is what you can tell yourself during the first few times you go to the gym: “Yes, I understand it’s hard. It sucks. I’m not enjoying it. I want to quit. I want to go home. It seems so hard. I keep thinking that I can’t handle it. BUT!!! This is the hardest it’ll ever get. If I don’t stop, it’ll never be as hard as this ever again. I won’t need to suffer as much ever again. The next time, if I come back and do the same fitness class, it’ll not be as hard.”
When I use this mind trick, my immediate reaction is, “if it’s the hardest it can get, then it’s not actually that bad. I can handle just this one time. It’s ok.”
So just repeat this thought to yourself. It is the hardest it’ll ever get. It is the hardest it’ll ever get. Hopefully, it helps. Try it and see if it works!
Till next time,
September sprint starts next week.
We apply agile principles to the projects that we are passionate about, be it personal or professional. We use the same techniques that all the big tech companies are using to build their products. It’s a lot of fun!
If you prefer an audio format, please consider subscribing to the Monthly Method Podcast.