Your daughter wins star of the week so you miss a networking event to catch her school assembly. You’re feeling under the weather so you miss your spin class at the gym. Whether you’re building a business or a better body, life is always going to throw you a curveball. But it’s not life’s little disruptions that matter, it’s how you deal with them that counts.
What keeps us on track through the ups and downs is a particular kind of mental toughness called perseverance. When you have perseverance you recognise that it’s OK to be slightly off your game every now and again, but it’s not OK to stay there.
So how do you keep going when the going gets tough? Find out here.
Expect life to get in the way
From a forgotten craft project that the kids were due to hand in yesterday to a crisis at work, there’s bound to be something that threatens the smooth running of your journey. The only thing you can do to stop a curveball from derailing you completely is to have a solid action plan in place ahead of time.
Identify your curveballs
Write out everything that could possibly get in the way of you and your new habit. What are the kind of things that have stopped you in the past? Maybe it was a thunderstorm appearing on the horizon just when you’d planned to go running, or a late night stopping you from getting out of bed early to do your sun salutations. No one knows your pinch points like you do.
Use ‘if-then’ planning
Once you’ve written all your common triggers it’s time to think how you’ll respond to each one when it appears. So write down things like, “If X happens, then I will do Y”. An example would be, “If it’s raining outside and I’ve planned to run, then I will do a HIIT workout video on YouTube instead.”
Avoid the ‘sod it’ response
Give yourself lots of options for your ‘if-then’ plan. Preparing them all in advance means you’re far less likely to say ‘sod it’ and give up on your plans the minute something doesn’t go your way.
Shake it off
Of course, there’ll always be something that happens which you haven’t planned for and in those situations it’s tempting to fall back into old patterns. For example, you have a few cross words with a loved one so you reach for the biscuits. You have one biscuit and think all your healthy living attempts are ruined, so you eat the whole packet.
When that happens I have a strategy that fits every situation. I tell my clients that instead of reaching for the cookies, you need to get up, leave the room and shake your whole body vigorously. Then you give yourself the choice of some healthy behaviours instead. It sounds crazy but the shaking really does interrupt that familiar pattern of behaviour and can give you just the dose of perseverance you need.
Leon Taylor competed for Great Britain at three Olympic Games and was the first British diver in over 44 years to win a silver medal. A BBC sports commentator and mentor to diving sensation Tom Daley, Leon is now a performance and wellness coach.