I know everyone experience having their “A” game for a week or so and have this overflowing feeling of self accomplishment and zeal to do more, then suddenly you broke the streak, failed doing it once and then suddenly everything seems so difficult to carry on and you just felt like giving up.
We all have these setbacks and during these times, the feeling of guilt, shame, frustration and regret always kicks in. It was like your inner voice is telling yourself to just quit, saying to yourself “Maybe it was not worth it”, “I can’t do this anymore” and “I already failed”.
How many times you’ve experience this? It feels like everything has gone wrong and the worst thing is that it continues to go on and on. You continue to give in, in doing something that you don’t like doing.
We all have this moment and this is the biggest threat to our willpower and to our dreams.
This is what experts called as the “What-the-hell effect”.
WHAT IS “WHAT-THE-HELL EFFECT”?
According to Psychology today;
“The what-the-hell effect describes the cycle you feel when you indulge, regret what you’ve done, and then go back for more. Your brain rationalizes your behavior by saying, “You already blew your goal of only having two cookies, so … what the hell, you might as well eat the entire pan.” The phrase was coined by dieting researchers, but the effect can apply to any setback or willpower challenge.”
This is what normally happens to us. For example those who decided to have their diet and because of getting off track once from eating healthy food, they decided to just quit everything and just give in to eating crap foods.
We have to keep in mind that at some point in time any good habit will fail and no matter how great your system and process is. There will always this What-the-hell effect within us but we have to have a proper mindset whenever setback comes.
HOW TO GET BACK ON TRACK?
1. Forgive yourself and reassess
“You’ve been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise Hay
Self-compassion works well on this, we have to forgive ourselves and understand that it is almost impossible to never fail even once. There will always be a phase where you feel like not pushing. The key here is not to give into not doing it but more on understanding what is happening, why you don’t want to do it anymore.
You need to forgive yourself on the failed attempt and assess why you get out of track. Whether it was working out, reading, eating healthy or whatever it is. There will always be a reason why fell out of track.
You need to consider if the reason for falling out of track is mainly; you realized that maybe this is not really what you want (and that’s totally okay to just stop), there is something wrong in your system, or something significantly affects you and pushes you not to do it.
You should never beat yourself up and just focus on why you went out of track.
2. Schedule your habit
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” – Stephen Covey
Start new and start fresh! Set a schedule for your habit and do it again.
The most common thing that we all have when it comes to building habit or making consistent action is that we always think that it was “All or Nothing”, meaning you failed once then it means you already failed everything at all.
This is one of the mindset that we have to avoid, all the days that you’ve succeeded doing your work outs or eating healthy are all worth it! It was never true that one mistake will invalidate all the efforts you’ve put in before.
You have to schedule it and start doing it again. Scheduling your task gives you a sense of somewhat reminder and commitment to do it. It also gives you a specific and clear cue/trigger to do it, which allows you to decide better and increase the likelihood of doing the task.
Remember; the best friend of procrastination is vagueness and unclarity.
3. Start again and start smaller
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius
With all the regret, shame and disappointment that you have, it certainly depletes your willpower and motivation to do it again. The way to do is just to start again but this time it should be a lot simpler and smaller.
Make it so simple and easy that it will be impossible for you not to do it.
If you are building the habit of reading books and got off track. Try to make it so simple and just do it, like reading 5 sentences per day.
This allows you to slowly build up the momentum until you regain the motivation to do it again consistently. Then build up increase the volume or frequency gradually, from reading 5 sentences per day to 1 chapter a day.
4. Design your environment
“Your life is controlled by what you focus on.” – Tony Robbins
When it comes to doing something, we need to understand that our surrounding plays a big role. It is not always about your motivation nor you willpower, your environment significantly affects the likeliness that your habit or task will be executed.
Don’t expect build habit of eating healthy foods if your fridge is full of crap foods, you can never work effectively if you are working beside your console, you can never read as often as you want if all your books are inside your drawer and kept at your attic.
The task to be performed is not just influenced by your motivation to do it, but also the environment surrounding it.
This just means that you have to plan how you will get back on track not just by changing your perspective, but also by doing some tweaks and changes to your environment.
James clear summarizes everything in this passage;
“These small hiccups don’t make you a failure, they make you human. The most successful people in the world slip up on their habits too. What separates them isn’t their willpower or motivation, it’s their ability to get back on track quickly.”
Now, let me ask you the same question again.
How many times you’ve experience what I experience above. How many times you felt like you already failed and you don’t want to carry on.
I bet it will happen again, but this time, I hope I gave you a way to work around it. We need to understand that quitting is never an option and for us to improve, there will always be something that we have to tweak or change to be better than before.
At the end of the day, nothing comes easy for something that is worth having and that’s to be your “Best versions”.
You can check below for the resources and other readings that I got:
1. Get Back on Track: 7 Strategies to Help You Bounce Back After Slipping Up
2. Why Is It So Easy to Slip Back into Bad Habits?
3. How The What-The-Hell Effect Impacts Your Willpower
4. Why self-compassion matters?
5. Why my motivation comes and goes and how to fix it