Have you ever made a start on a hobby project but never ended up finishing it? Have you ever read the first chapter of a novel then decided to get back to it later but you never did? Have you ever started a new health routine and by day 3 you woke up in the morning and said to yourself, “I don’t feel like doing it.”
If you have experienced anything in that nature, you are not alone. Everyone does it from time to time. The reason you have trouble to sustain the initial enthusiasm is not that you don’t have the willpower. Rather it is an issue of incompatible mental software.
Just like a computer, your brain is loaded with programs which determine how you think, what you do and what kind of decisions you make. Suppose all of a sudden you feel like writing a book. However if you haven’t written anything for as long as you can remember, you may find it almost impossible to complete anything that is publishable. Let alone having to sit in front of a screen churning out words on a daily basis.
The solution is actually quite simple. All you need is an app called “writer” for your brain’s operation system.
Here is the tricky part. Making up a new program for your brain does take energy and time. Unlike a computer software which you can buy from the app store and install it in 30 seconds or less. There is no shortcut for acquiring a mental software. You have to spend time and do whatever is necessary to get you there. And that is not always easy, which does require some willpower and discipline.
Let’s say you have always lived a sedentary lifestyle. Every day you drive to work, then sit behind the desk for the next 8 hours before driving home. At night, you sit in front of the TV for 3 hours before going to bed.
One day, out of the blue, a friend of yours ask you to go to the gym and you went along. Inspired by what you see in the gym, you decide to become a lean and mean and muscular hunk. And this is what you would have to do.
You pay a hefty amount of gym membership and you go there every day after work whether you feel like it or not. You sell your car and buy a $3000 bicycle and all the fancy accessories that come with it. You throw out all you favourite snacks such as chips, chocolate and jelly beans, instead, you live on protein powders and steroids. How long do you think you would last this time?
Lucky for you, not all changes require such drastic measures. A simple motor skill such as learning to drive or typing doesn’t take all that long before you can do it with your eyes closed. A few years ago, I decided to learn to type on a new keyboard arrangement called Colemak. Unlike a normal keyboard layout Colemak places those frequently-used keys on a single row. So your fingers don’t have to travel as much.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I practised typing using a free online program each night. It was difficult at the beginning.10 words per minute was probably close to the maximum I could manage. I was constantly struggling with the new location of the keys. Nevertheless, I persevered. Within a few months, I could type comfortably without looking at the keyboard and my typing speed increased to a respectable 50 words per minute.
As you can see, next time when you find yourself giving up anything prematurely, stop feeling guilty for being a quitter. Focus on reprogramming what is up there one code at a time.