We all know the old saying “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” But, what about doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same result? I’m no expert (I don’t even play one on TV), but I implore you to indulge in an idea with me: changing the approach to how we do the same tasks to keep them fresh and inspired, and maybe, just maybe, sticking with something we resolve to do.
As a mother of three, I interact with a lot of other mothers. Most say the same thing: “I wish I could stick to a workout routine.” I assume that many people feel this way and have a myriad of creative excuses, especially in pandemic times, as to why physical wellness just isn’t working for them. The recent Peloton craze confirmed my suspicion that people are really wanting to be well despite the current conditions.
The practice of a new and healthy habit can feel great mentally and physically, but sticking with it long–term often becomes a challenge. So creating a game plan hinged on an environment shift every so often can keep the new habit alive—if it is one you hope to keep around long-term. For instance, if the practice always takes place at a certain time in your living room, create a goal of continuing in your living room for one month, then switching to your bedroom or outside for the next month. Same activity, different feeling.
Before Covid-19, my workouts were mostly at the gym, with trail runs with friends all the way. The pandemic meant the same goal with a fresh (albeit unwelcome) twist. Instead of just running lots, running 115 miles per week on a monotonous loop in total silence for the remainder of spring became the new pursuit. Making this goal and trying a mental shift in training (the silence component) allowed me to endure this new and challenging chapter. I was still doing the same activity, but changing the scenery allowed me to endure it in a new way.
Another strategy for keeping an activity you are working on fresh is to create miniature goals within it. If the goal is to “read more,” don’t just choose a book. Have a goal of perhaps a chapter a night. If a chapter a night is not working, adjust the goal to something more realistic for you. If the intention is vague, it will drop off quickly. When my silent, high–mileage runs became monotonous and exhausting, I felt as if I had burnt myself out. I started a summer of trail running; I began to make goals of hitting certain elevation milestones every week. This helped to keep that activity fun and exciting – stretching myself in new ways within the boundaries of my ultimate goal.
Waking each morning and not hitting the “I Got You Babe” snooze button in the Groundhog Day movie that has become most of our realities requires some real intention setting. We can’t all live like Bill Murray, because the magic of jumping off a building and waking up the next morning unfortunately isn’t available to us.
There are plenty of solo ways to keep goals fresh and inspired, until that glorious day comes when we can all be together again in real life, in community, the way humans are meant to be. Groundhog Day won’t be our reality forever. And until we can crawl out (for real) and our metaphorical (or literal?) spring has finally come, we need to cope. As the song goes, “They say we’re young and we don’t know, won’t find out until we grow…”
Let’s keep growing, creating realistic goals, and being as kind to ourselves as we are hard on ourselves.