Building a Positive Mindset, One Small Habit at a Time

Discussion in 'Self Improvement' started by asfixiated, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. asfixiated

    asfixiated Fapstronaut

    Why I'm writing this post

    One of my greatest issues when I started NoFap for the first time - and one that still follows me around every time I try it - is overcommitment. I always expect a lot from myself, even though I'm just getting started. I make these all-encompassing sets of goals that are completely impractical, and end up paying the price.

    But I've gotten better at it, and I want to share some of the things I've learned, as well as some good techniques for setting goals and managing expectations. A lot of this comes from Duhigg's The Power of Habit, but it's advice I've heard in a lot of places in many different forms.

    Why do we overcommit?

    The main reasons that we overcommit are:
    • We want to change our lives and become the person we should be now
    • We don't want to feel like we're "slacking" - we want to be like our accomplished friends who do "everything, all the time"
    • We believe our commitments are "small" - no way we can't keep them all, right?
    But isn't making commitments just a reflection of ambition? What's wrong with that?

    There's a difference between ambition and zeal. You wouldn't go to the gym, put 300lbs. on the squat rack and attempt to do a set of squats if you'd never done a squat in your life before! And yet here you are, committing to "10 Daily Habits that Will Change Your Life" when you've never even had one daily habit that you've committed to, ever. Start small.

    So what to I do? How do I squat 300lbs. of habits?

    Like a lifter would squat 300lbs. - start small and increase the weight at regular intervals. Pick one small, easy habit and do it once per day. Meditation is the classic. Ideally your habit should be accomplishable at almost any energy level, and take under a minute to complete.

    You can "increase weight" every once in a while - I recommend every week. You can either add another small, 1-minute habit, or increase the duration of your current habit by a small increment (like 1 minute).

    But if I only do one small habit per day I'm just slacking around... I can keep more habits per day than that!

    Just because you're only committed to one habit doesn't mean you can't do other positive things during the day. The point is that on your absolute worst, crappiest day you should still be able to maintain your small habit. If you're having an average or even good day and can do more, great! But keep it to one small habit as a commitment to start.

    Ok, but I have more good habits I want to try to start building. What do I do?

    You can keep a list of "bonus" habits that are completely optional. If you complete a bonus habit on a day great, and if you only complete your committed habit also great. The point is that you should feel content just keeping your committed habit and you shouldn't feel guilty for not completing your bonus habit. Don't fall into the trap of treating your bonus habits as ones that are mandatory - I do it all the time, and it bites me hard, every time.

    It's all about building mindset.

    Just as exercise is about building muscle, daily habits are about building mindset. Your goal is to show you and nobody else that you are capable of starting and maintaining habits. If those habits happen to be positive and have an impact on your life, great, but the main goal is shifting your mindset.

    Help! I missed my habit! I'm a failure! I can't keep my commitments!

    I once made a commitment, using my own guidelines, to meditate 1 minute per day. That's it. And I missed day 3. I was in a pit after that - it felt like I couldn't do anything. But then I did something worse than missing a day - I stopped trying. And it cost me weeks of progress.

    This is another lesson that can be learned from this method - hopping back on the bandwagon. If you miss a day, it's ok. Try your best to get back on the wagon as soon as possible, and remember to not beat yourself up about it. In a way, hopping back on the wagon is the same as keeping your commitment - it shows you still care and want to make a change, whether it's a day, a week, a month, a year or even a decade after your last successful completion of a habit.

    Man, you must be some kind of commitment god to come here and talk about all this!

    Nope, I've only got one daily commitment thus far, and I haven't been that great about keeping it. But just getting to this stage has changed my mentality, and taught me a lot of positive lessons. Bla... bla... journey that counts... bal... bla. But seriously, that's what it is.

    I encourage you to try this methodology. The hardest part is changing your mentality, and accepting that one small habit is enough. It can be a very humbling and difficult process if you expect a lot of yourself, but it will ultimately teach you a lot of things about your own thought processes. And the more you know about you, the closer you'll be to achieving your goals.

    Stay strong NoFappers!
  2. Temujin

    Temujin Fapstronaut

    I agree completely with this. Start small and build up. I really believe in it. It can be something as small as making your bed after getting out of it first thing every morning without fail. Just some anchor.
    getmylifeback91 and asfixiated like this.
  3. g2stop

    g2stop Fapstronaut

    I like it, I am going to start making my bed every day from now on
    Lunar Devil and asfixiated like this.
  4. asfixiated

    asfixiated Fapstronaut

    Bed making is a great one! Solid choice! :)
  5. Very helpful since i have a problem with upholding my commitments. Thanks.
    asfixiated likes this.
  6. n2kv

    n2kv Fapstronaut

    Great post ! I've been trying to keep some commitments lately, and I 100% agree with this. You put words on some thoughts I've been trying to fully grasp ! Thks a lot !
    asfixiated likes this.
  7. britaxe

    britaxe Fapstronaut

    Have to agree here, Start small. However small that is... it's a start, a foundation to be built on. I've changed things so much in my life this year and PMO has been the best thing I've done for years for myself.
    getmylifeback91 and asfixiated like this.
  8. Philip1_6

    Philip1_6 Fapstronaut

    This is just what I needed to read today. I've gone away from trying to build one simple habit to trying to do everything at once. I've read the habit loop, at least a majority of it, a year or two ago. Thank you for your take.
    asfixiated likes this.
  9. PotentLife

    PotentLife Fapstronaut

    Great lesson. This has been a huge struggle in my life. Several days ago I committed to 10 push-ups every hour, keeping it small enough so that I have actually craved to do more! I was so happy with the results that I added 5 deep squats (without weight) along with it. I tend to do more, but I keep reminding myself that I don't have to. The most important part of it, I keep reminding myself, is to cultivate a craving, which is at least as big a motivator as the "should" or hard sense of obligation that usually would be my reason for working out. The craving keeps me so hungry for this action that I don't even think about it. I just drop and do 10, or 20, or 30, or...

    Thanks for reinforcing this recent epiphany with your lucid and engaging post. I feel like my life is really changing for the better, now!
    getmylifeback91 and Lunar Devil like this.
  10. Lunar Devil

    Lunar Devil Fapstronaut

    Allowing the excitement, the energy, the fire, the wave to build up brings amazing results. I noticed that too when I started with working out. Amazingly enough, I once read in an article people who keep going are naturally rewarding themselves for the succes instead of trying to be as hash and tough as they can but rather they enjoy all the passion on road as they can. Games like WoW use this strategy apparently this is why millions are addicted to them. Give them a big long-term quest with huge rewards and lots of medium and small quests in between to keep playing...genius! :)
    PotentLife likes this.
  11. damirios

    damirios Fapstronaut

    Great post!
    I´ve read the book "Zen habits" by Leo Babauta, which is about the same topic. Since then I´ve changed my life alot. Together with Nofap these are the biggest influences in the last year for me.
    PotentLife likes this.

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