Don’t Let Yourself Get Away With It


Don't Let Yourself Get Away With It

Going to the gym on a consistent schedule has been a personal struggle for the past two years.

My routine has always been simple, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were my workout days. I had weekends off and two rest days in between the weekdays.

And I’d do well. I’d feel myself getting stronger and my progress was noticeable when I’d be squatting a weight that I couldn’t even imagine lifting just weeks or months prior.

Working out became a fun ritual that was an easy way to get my fix of endorphins.

I’d keep up with my routine for months at a time and I’d look in the mirror feeling pretty happy with my increased mass and my slightly more muscular self.

Then a day comes where I decide to take a day off.

Okay, just this once. Let’s get away with it just for one day.

Then the second day…

And before I know it, months have passed since I last stepped into a gym.

This on and off relationship with working out has been going on since 2013. I’d work out for three, four, or five months in a row without skipping a beat then I suddenly disappear for the same amount of time before picking the habit back up again. All because I decide to let myself “get away” with skipping one or two days.

I was doing well just a couple months ago and was making great progress. I planned a week-long trip to California to visit friends and family in mid-March. Just before I went, I thought to myself I’ve got to continue working out while I’m out of town.

I knew if I had missed just one or two workouts of the week, I’d be done for once again. Against my better judgment, I didn’t go to the gym during my week in California.

Once I was back in Arizona, I never bothered stepping back into the gym. The routine was broken. It’s been months again.

Habits are difficult to form but easy to break.

Take flossing for example. I’ve been consistently flossing twice a day for months, but every few days I think for just a second, “Ah, I’m tired tonight. Maybe I’ll skip flossing just this once…”, just before I snap out of it and remind myself that if I let myself get away with it, that whole chain is going to come crashing down with ease.

Need a more serious example?

If I don’t write one article each week for Self Stairway, then it’ll be much easier to take multiple weeks or even months off from writing. That’s why I’ve never missed a single week since starting this site.

I know if I break the habit, if I let myself get away with it, I’d start from zero again.

If something matters to you then never give yourself a cheat day. It’s too easy to take more the moment you take a single one.

Don’t miss a beat. Don’t let yourself get away with it.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

Latest posts by Vincent Nguyen (see all)

14 responses to Don’t Let Yourself Get Away With It

  1. Awesome post! I think this is something pretty much everyone struggles with. I’ve certainly felt the effects of breaking a habit “just once”, and then losing all the momentum I’d built up!

    My way of dealing with it (which usually works) is to do a mental “reset” every morning, where I recognize my past failures to keep up with a habit, forgive them, and vow to start anew that very same day.

    • It’s a common theme I see when it comes to exercise and I totally relate with people who talk openly about their routines. I’m a big fan of routine and they’re so easy to break!

  2. I think a lot of people also give up entirely when they have a miss. Their justification is that they’ve already lost it or broken the chain, so what the heck. I think it’s important to continue hustling even after those days that you miss. The average speed is what matters.

  3. Ha, I know this feeling all too well. The real trick in life (for me) is to pick up on the gradual change in things. Its so hard to detect sometimes. Where slowly but surely, over many months I lose the consistency of a good habit. Or I slowly develope bad habits until one day its an overblown habit and reaaally obvious. it can be unbelievble frustrating. I like to keep notes which I can continuously refer back to. Good post man

    • What’s your trick for picking up on the gradual changes? Is it the notes that help with this?

      • Well, I keep a notepad file on my laptop with all the best, tried and tested techniques for improving life generally that ive come up with, and just keep focusing, keep focusing, keep breathing life into the ideas. Because I know for a fact that I have a tendency to drift away. Normally its about 4 or 5 habits that I try to maintain. For me, its nearly impossible to pick up on the gradual changes sometimes. I just get wrapped up in a new idea and other habits get neglected. I just gotta keep coming back to my notes.

        • Awesome. Thoughts on sharing your notes with us? 🙂

          • emmmm well…….theyre all pretty common good habits and practices like eating healthy, exercising etc but some are more specific to me like focusing on the present moment because I have a serious tendency to daydream and not live in the moment, What else…I used to practice a sort of positive imagination technique which really turned out to be useless so I dropped the habit, pretty much “positive thinking” but it contributed and evolved into obsessive thinking which took me further away from the present moment so it was ultimately harmful for me. Maybe some of these things can work for some people, other things might not. I think everyone has to experiment until they find the sweet spot for them

  4. Well, I don’t know.

    In my experience, having a desire to go one day off usually means I am not doing something right.

    Or it could be resistance as Pressfield pointed out in War of Art.

    I still struggle on deciding which one is it.

  5. I’m all for the continuity of disciplines (“streaks”).
    Since I decided to write daily no matter what my word output increased about 250%.

    BTW, that’s why I don’t go to gyms. I exercise a few times a day, every day.

  6. I like the way Michal puts it. Practice always makes perfect

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