3 Things that Make Frequency more Effective than Quantity
Do you struggle when you try to change your habits? Do you make changes that only last for a week or two before you just give up? Perhaps you look at other people who seem to have the energy, willpower, and motivation to make change quite easily, but yet you find that it’s all too much of a challenge or an effort and feel it’s not really possible for you.
If you recognise these things you might be making one key mistake: you might be trying to do too much. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to change their habits is that they go for quantity over frequency, either trying to do too much of one thing, or trying to make too many changes at once.
You may have heard the saying: ‘go big or go home’ but when it comes to changing habits it’s better to ‘go small than not at all’. It’s much more important to aim for frequency and consistency with your changed habits than to go all-in with big changes. Watch the video or read on to find out 3 reasons why!
1. Momentum: When you want start something new, the hardest part is often getting going and taking the first step. If you are trying to get outside to exercise more, perhaps to walk or ride a bike, it’s all too easy to look at the weather, particularly if it’s raining or miserable, and think that you really don’t want to go out in that! But once you get past that first action, put in the effort to get your exercise clothes on and get out, you find it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.
Perhaps you’ve been on holiday somewhere nice with an outdoor swimming pool. And the people already in the water are saying “it’s fine once you’re in”, but you are a little hesitant. You sit on the edge, tentatively dipping a toe, then start to lower yourself in bit-by-bit. And it’s definitely feeling a bit chilly; you may even be wincing as the water comes higher and higher, but eventually you go for it, and you are in, and it feels fine!
And that’s the key, it’s fine when you are in it but it’s starting that can be the hardest part. So why give yourself that pain of having to keep restarting all the time? It’s better just to keep going consistently so that you don’t have the hurdle of starting. And once you have started it’s a bit like a Newton’s cradle; the initial push takes a bit of effort, but once you’ve got some momentum going, it takes much less effort to carry on.
2. Consistency changes your story: There’s no doubt that intensity makes a great story. If you were to run a marathon, or swim across the Channel or give up sugar for two months, that’s something impressive you can tell people about. But doing something ‘big’ doesn’t really change your story unless you can keep going at that level of intensity, which is hardly likely, and may be impossible. But if you make little changes and do them consistently, they will change the trajectory that you’re on and you’ll end up in a different place. Consistency is what makes the difference in the long term.
3. A changed mindset: When you make small, frequent changes to your habits and you do these regularly, it reinforces your belief that you are becoming the person you want to be. You’re no longer trying to be a runner or a walker, you are one! The fact you go out every day and do these things makes you that person. You don’t need to wait to run a marathon to ‘become a runner’. You don’t need to wait until you walk up Mount Everest to ‘become a walker’. You are already a walker, a runner, a gym-goer, a mainly-healthy-eater as soon as you start making those small changes. Your brain owns it, and your mind knows it, and that drives your actions and your future. And because your brain believes that that’s what you are, your decisions that link to that habit are easier to make: your mind knows it and your body follows it.
So, the key is to concentrate on making small, consistent changes; things that you can keep up, things that will become your story and become your lifestyle.
If you want to hear more, our next ‘Evening with Fitfish’ online event is happening on Friday 29th October at 8pm. Corin Pilling from Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries will be sharing some thoughts on looking after ourselves and sustaining our wellbeing, and I’ll be sharing 7 ways to make new habits happen. You can sign up here – we’d love you to come and join us.