here is the secret
to sustainable practice
quit while you’re ahead
leave fuel in the tank
stop before you’re depleted
end on a high note
resuming it tomorrow
wanting to give more
You can power through a 30-day challenge or even a year long challenge. But if you want to create a sustainable practice over the long term, powering through loses its luster. It can also cause burnout.
And, if you’re creating a new physical practice, pushing too far too fast can cause injury.
I’m currently training myself how to run. I’ve never been much of a fan of running, but I need to step up my cardio training and the intensity of my workouts.
I’m using the same principles and frameworks I used to create my daily fitness first ritual 8 years ago. It’s the same system I used to create a daily meditation practice and my daily blog, among other things.
One of the crucial factors to creating a sustainable daily practice can also be counter intuitive for high achievers:
Quit while you’re ahead.
The concept of quitting may feel at odds with the idea of sustainability. It’s also a challenge for those of us who like to stay in flow for as long as possible. It’s necessary to maintain longevity.
In the past, when I’ve attempted to learn how to run, if I ran for a mile I wouldn’t be able to repeat it for a few weeks. I wouldn’t even be able to run the next day. I’d be so wiped out that I lost the “runner’s high.” Instead of boosting my energy, I depleted my energy.
This is a pattern that shows up in other places too. I tend to work myself to the point well past exhaustion. Then it’s harder to motivate to do it the next day.
This time around, I am increasing my run segments slowly and in small increments. By stopping when I still have tank in the gas, I know that I could have gone further. That makes it psychologically easier to increase my run segments each week.
This principle applies to anything.
We are wired to move toward what is pleasurable and away from what is painful.
If you deplete yourself it’s harder to motivate to come back to the activity; you’ll associate it with fatigue and pain.
But if you leave feeling good and knowing you had more in you, you’ll want to come back to it.
Always leave yourself wanting more.