Most of us like to blame a lack of motivation for failure to achieve one so-called goal. Though, such failures most often have to do with lack of knowledge, self-awareness, and strategy in my opinion. I believe that we can plow through obstacles without having to rely on fleeting positive emotions and motivation by having a clear roadmap.
Many self-help gurus like to market that it takes 21 days to build a habit, though from my experience the habit is still easy to undo after this short amount. I suggest an additional constraint in order for a habit to be fully formed: A habit is hardwired only when it becomes easier to keep doing it than it is to stop doing it. Oddly enough, a habit should become like a good addiction. To achieve this, I believe we necessitate at least 90 days.
Here are the most common stages one will face on the habit building process, taken from personal experience:
90 Days Habit Building Process
[Days 0-7]: The Honeymoon Stage
- Initial burst of enthusiasm and motivation
- MAIN OBSTACLE: Burning out by doing too much too soon
[Days 14-21]: The Complacency Stage
- “If I skip one day, it won’t be a big deal… I can handle this.”
- MAIN OBSTACLE: Overconfident, giving in to complacency
[Days 40-60]: The Dip
- “This is useless and stupid. I’m not getting any better and not seeing results…”
- MAIN OBSTACLE: Refusing to accept the plateau, burning out, and giving up
[Days 70-80]: The Acceptance Stage
- The feeling of no turning back, of “having gone too far” to give up.
- The habit is done for its own sake without any expectations “just because.”
[Day 90]: The “Addiction” Stage
- Realization that one’s life has become increasingly better from implementing this habit
- Inability to give up the habit. “I can’t stop. If I did, I feel like there would be something missing in my day.”
- Newfound joy in the practice
Note that days and stages will vary depending on the habit and the individual, but I have found those stages to be consistent with my habit building processes. In my next article, I address the common failure points of the honeymoon stage.
Self-help encompasses many areas ranging from positive psychology to spirituality. The problem is that most fail to realize that self-help only addresses most issues at the “meta” level, meaning that it may leave out other practical considerations in favor of grand, abstract “just believe in it!” type of groundless concepts. Going meta is pointless if we fail to address the very “stuff” or goal we are trying to achieve, whether that is happiness, fulfillment, love, success, or etc. While positively rewiring one’s psychology is important in order to achieve success in any area of life, this alone is not enough. Conceptualizing and intellectualizing must ultimately turn into tangible reality.
There are countless individuals who are obsessed with books, seminars, videos and online courses, yet never apply that which they learn. In my opinion, self-help alone would be the equivalent of having incredible schedule building skills and have nothing productive to fill this calendar with.
Examples of elusive concepts include many new age-y concepts about raising one’s vibration and being more in the moment, for example. Note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with those ideas as I encourage them myself, but the big problem lies in their execution. I agree that we must raise our consciousness, but how do we practically do it?
Knowledge is completely useless unless it is applied in the real world. Here are the questions to ask yourself today:
- What is my goal (aka the actual “stuff”, not the abstract idea of it)?
- What is the #1 method that will help me achieve this goal?
- What plan can I set up that will ensure consistent action towards this goal?
- What metrics can I use to track my progress?
Feel free to apply this model to any goal that is self-help or otherwise.
Let’s take a typical goal from men in the seduction community. If overcoming fear X of approaching women comes down to method Y of progressive desensitization, ask yourself what plan of action A will help you carry out method Y consistently.
If X (goal) comes down to Y (method), find plan A (schedule/habit) that will consistently carry out Y (method) on a consistent basis until X (goal) is achieved.
Track your progress.
Let’s say plan A is “to go out every weekend to indirectly approach 5 women.”
If A (schedule/habit) doesn’t work and you still shit your pants each night, find some other plan B (schedule/habit) of let’s say “approaching one woman a day in broad daylight”. That might be easier and more consistent on a daily basis.
If all habits fail at achieving results, perhaps method Y has to be replaced entirely for some other method Z. Maybe progressive desensitization is too gentle and you need something more drastic that will kick you in the butt adequately, or consider coaching.
In other cases, maybe the goal X itself is not the right goal. Perhaps what you truly want is love and intimacy, and you thought that the only way to achieve this was by going the pickup-artist, anxiety-busting route. Tunnel vision kept you stuck on X. Sadly, many men who invest their heart and soul into the community fail to evolve past it, never able to let go of a goal that needed revision.
Anyways, I digress. This is only a brief overview of the process I suggest in order to turn abstract information into tangible actions, yet this model still lacks many important considerations like:
- What are good metrics for measuring progress?
- When is it adequate to drop plan A for plan B?
- When do we know when method Y has to be revised entirely?
- Is it OK to give up goal X for some other goal?
It feels like this post left more questions than answers, but that is what most of self-improvement entails in my opinion: to realize how much we don’t know what we don’t know. Counter-intuitive as hell, but if you have been following me for a while, you know that I value independent thinking. In this light, I hope this post will help you find your own answers to your questions, as I am still struggling to find them myself.
Best of luck on your journey,
Escaping “negative” emotions by doing other distracting things does not really help. Hence, I have made it a practice to meditate everyday whenever sadness, anger, loneliness, anxiety, or any other paralyzing emotion is present. When I isolate myself for a little too long I sometimes tend to attract those unwanted emotions. Whenever this happens, I sit down to calm down my mind and recenter my breath.
I am sure you’ve been there too. Here’s a video I’ve done on the topic a long time ago. I often have to remind myself of the very things I teach and apply them myself. Meditation takes a very long time to master, and I plan on mastering it eventually.