No ❌ Days!

I’m more than half done with my 374-day blogging challenge, which started on Dec 24, 2019. I’ve done 191 days and have 183 days to go. My blog currently has 1517 published posts, so there will be an even 1700 at the end of the year.

These types of daily challenges are mentally won or lost before Day 1 begins. It’s best to remove the doubt first. This includes anticipating the objections that various parts of your mind will come up with and how you’ll deal with them as they arise. If you’re unprepared for those objections, they may surprise you along the way and make you want to quit, which you’ll likely regret.

One simple internal defense against quitting is to see your daily commitment as an issue of honor. I tell the whiny parts of myself that we can’t quit because that would be dishonorable, so we’re not going to go there. They have no good counter-argument for the honor issue, so they surrender to it. Many of those parts care about honor as well.

Another defense mechanism is that I tell myself that when it gets difficult, it’s a growth experience. It’s easy to write when I feel inspired. It’s harder to write when I’d rather not write, but in those writing sessions, I build more self-discipline, confidence, and the ability to surrender to what I’ve already decided to do. I also stretch my creativity to work with whatever level of energy and motivation I have, which makes it more efficient and reliable.

Here’s an especially powerful skill to add to this collection. Acknowledge the tremendous negative memory that would be created by quitting partway through. Going six months and then stopping isn’t half a win. It’s a loss, one that will still be remembered decades from now. That would be a terrible curse to bestow upon my future self. I’d rather gift him with a lifetime memory of success. While some may look back on 2020 as a cursed year, I want to remember this as the year I wrote and published more than I ever have in any other year. For me it’s a year of stretching my self-discipline and building more creative confidence.

You can let circumstances write the story of this year for you, or you can choose to write your own story. This year is only half written so far. What will you write for the second half? Have you already made that second half a win or a loss in your mind? Are you already regretting tomorrow?

When I’ve quit on certain challenges in the past, many years before I started blogging, I still hold those memories today. I’d have preferred to look back upon memories of pushing through to meaningful successes and accomplishments instead of stopping before crossing the finish line. The enduring sting of those memories motivates me not to create more of them.

Remember that whenever you quit on yourself, you curse your future self with the lifelong memory of quitting, and your confidence takes a hit. That’s a big price to pay. It’s easier to just do one more day of discipline, again and again, till you achieve your goal. That’s always the basic decision, isn’t it? One more day of discipline or a lifetime of regret – which do you want?

Quitting on a personal commitment isn’t neutral. It doesn’t just drop you back down to even, as if you never started in the first place. It’s a genuine setback, especially for your long-term self-trust and self-confidence. It gives you a negative result, and it can take a while to recover from that.

One reason I chose to do this blogging challenge is so that I’ll always have the memory of 2020 being the year I published to my blog every single day. I want to add that to my life as a cherished reference experience, just like I cherish the memory of exercising every single day some years, the first one being 1997.

This daily blogging goal isn’t 100% under my control. Something could happen to me along the way that physically prevents me from completing it. If such an event were to occur, I could forgive myself if there wasn’t a realistic option to do otherwise. But I’m not going to quit on myself since that would create a lifelong disappointment.

When you do 30-day, 90-day, or 365-day challenge, what’s your defense against quitting partway through? Figure that out before you begin. It’s part of the early game of success. Create the victory in your mind before you step up to the starting line; otherwise you’ve already defeated yourself.

In Conscious Growth Club, we do fresh 30-day challenges at the beginning of every month, so 12 times per year. Members who choose to participate chart their progress, either by adding a checkmark or an X for each day of the month, like this:

I like to tell people: Decide before you begin that there will be no ❌’s. An ❌ is not an option.

Really I think we shouldn’t even have ❌’s as part of the challenges. We should use a skull and crossbones ☠️ emoji instead to drive home the point that if you miss a day, you failed the challenge, and now you’re wallowing in freakish misery forever.

That kind of framing may sound harsh, and I’ll agree that it is, but it really helps to prevent ❌’s.

Ideally the only progress logs we should see for these challenges ought to look like this:

I’d love to see this become the standard for every member who does them. And this is why we train on these challenges again and again – to kill the ❌’s for good.

No ❌ days – ever! It’s all ✅’s – or the lifelong misery of ☠️.

With this post that’s 192 days in a row… 182 to go. 🙂

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Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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