How to Stick to Long-Term Changes

By Leo Babauta

If you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle, you can work really hard at it for a week … and see no change. The same goes for learning music or a language, or creating meaningful change in the world.

It’s hard to stick to long-term changes when you don’t get very immediate results. Seeing progress quickly can be very encouraging – so how do we find encouragement when we don’t see that quick progress?

Over the years, I have been able to stick to some big long-term changes: losing weight, working out to gain strength, training for marathons, creating a blog audience, and much more. I still don’t find this stuff easy!

Let’s look at some of the things I’ve found helpful in sticking to long-term changes when we aren’t getting immediate results.

The Mindset

It’s important to recognize when we’re in a fragile mindset, which is something along the lines of, “If I don’t see progress right away, I give up!” This leads to fragility – which is a human thing, but it’s good to be aware that this is going on.

A more resilient mindset might be something like:

I should be clear that mindset takes practice. We don’t just decide to come from a new mindset, and it happens instantly. We will get stuck in the old mindset, and the practice is to recognize it, and practice the new one.

Ways to Encourage Yourself

If the thing you’re trying to achieve (improved health, learning a language, changing people’s hearts and minds) isn’t going to happen this week … then how do we find encouragement?

We need to look for more immediate ways to find reward, to sustain our long-term encouragement.

Here are some ways I’ve found helpful:

I hope these help. You don’t have to do all of them – I’d suggest playing with the ones that feel like they’ll encourage you. If those don’t work, try some of the others.

What long-term effort have you been struggling to stick to? Learn from the past failures, let them go, and give it another shot … but with more encouragement.