Think back to when you were learning to ride a bike. Remember those two training wheels? Sure, they looked dorky, and you were kind of embarrassed when your parents put them on, but weren’t you oh-so-grateful they were there?
Learning to ride a bike is hard, and it’s painful to fall. It made sense to use training wheels the first few times. Once you got the hang of it and built up some skills, the training wheels came off, and you were riding all by yourself. But it’s important to remember how you got there.
Learning how to stay disciplined is similar. It’s a skill that you can acquire, but if you try all on your own to achieve an ambitious goal, you may find yourself failing because you haven’t had the proper preparation for discipline. And failing hurts. It makes us feel weak and worthless. Failing makes it more likely that you walk away and don’t try again. This is where Deal with the Devil enters the picture. When it comes to develop a habit of discipline, Deal with the Devil will be your training wheels.
Research shows that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. Timeframes vary depending on the habit, but on average, the time needed for a repeated behavior to become automatic is about two months.
Two months. That’s quite a bit of time for excuses to creep in as your life changes and other priorities seem to emerge. You haven’t cleaned your room in months and it’s a mess. Your fridge is running low and you need to buy groceries for the week. Your vacation is coming up and you haven’t done any planning yet. Do you really have time to work out today?
Left to fight out this battle in your head, you may be tempted by these seductive justifications and decide to skip your workout. Hey, we’ve all been there. But deep down, you know what these justifications really are – excuses. And it’s important to realize why these excuses can seem so powerful. It’s because your own powers of discipline aren’t strong enough yet. You’re trying to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels.
Why not make it easier on yourself? Deal with the Devil gives you the psychological reinforcement you need to stick to your workout goals for a set period of time. During that time, you’re strengthening your muscles of self-control. You’re repeating a behavior until it becomes a habit that’s hard-wired in your brain. You’re learning the skill of discipline.
And after a few months, once you’ve got the hang of it, if you’re feeling ready, the training wheel can come off!