There’s a phenomenon where regularly doing anything, whether for good or for bad, ends up making it easier to continue habitually doing that thing. Each action results in a little bit of inertia in the direction of that action.
And often times it’s more than just mental momentum, it’s the set of circumstances in your life that end up aligning with the thing you are regularly doing, thereby making it easier to keep doing that thing.
If you are waking up early on a consistent basis for example, you will naturally find yourself more tired at night, which will make it easier to fall asleep earlier. If you follow a consistent workout routine, you will eventually recover faster, look better, and be more capable in your exercises.
This inertia works against us, too. Any time I’ve stepped away from my workout schedule and routine, it creates a little bit of inertia in the direction of not regularly working out. I’ve broken the streak. By taking one action in a contrary direction, I’ve instantly counteracted the force of my routine, in some measure.
If I continue down this path, I will find it easier and easier to make excuses not to exercise. If I don’t reverse the trend, it will eventually become a huge challenge to simply exercise at all, when it used to be a routine that was automatic.
The key is to recognize areas of good inertia and bad inertia in your life. If you want to change a bad habit, you can take immediate action in an opposing direction, and you will interrupt the negative inertia. You won’t break the bad habit immediately, of course, but you will have broken the streak.
Similarly, you must protect the areas of good inertia in your life. You must perceive the desire to find an excuse not to work out today as a dire threat to your entire routine. The desire to procrastinate going to bed early as an action that risks derailing your schedule.
But most importantly, you must have kindness to yourself. If you fall off the wagon, you can immediately get back on. If you make excuses to skip working out today, immediately get back in the routine tomorrow—don’t wait!
It’s never too late. You have the power to take action at any time to begin to reverse tide of negative inertia, and to immediately begin progress in the other direction.