It’s not just you. We all have great intentions that flop. When you’re experiencing such challenges, the best thing to do is to create some kind of structure, advises Leo Babauta, the author, and creator of the popular website,  Zen Habits. In this essay, Leo explains how clearing our clutter will help us focus on what’s important…or amazing. 

Great intentions often flop without some kind of structure

  • You’re going to change your diet and lose some weight, but when mealtime comes around, you just eat the same kind of food and still get too full from eating too much.
  • You’re going to procrastinate less and be more focused, but then after a short success, you start going to your usual distractions.
  • You start exercising but then get lazy and fall off the habit.
  • You start waking early but then have a late night or two and the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

You start with great intentions, but the harder ventures cause us to flounder around. Then we repeat that: start with good intentions, flounder around. Over and over again, until we feel hopeless to change anything or start to nourish a deep sense of inadequacy.

What can you do to change things?

First off, it’s not you that is flopping, it’s your method.

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one perfect method. But there is one thing you can do to vastly improve your method: add some kind of structure.

Structure” is anything that holds you to your intentions

Here are some simple ways to add structure to you life that have worked for others.

Keep trying these, and one of them will work for you.

  • Create rules | Start with just one. No sugar, don’t go two days without a workout, no electronics after 9 pm, meditate first thing upon waking.
  • Get accountability | I like having a group of people who I report to every day. A simple way to do that is to use an app (Runkeeper, some kind of diet tracking app) where you have friends on the app who will see your log. Another way is to create a Google spreadsheet and use it to track how you did with a goal each day. Or just email people each week who agree to hold you accountable.
  • Set reminders | How will you remember to do what you said you did? This is a huge obstacle — forgetting. Instead of forgetting, set reminders on your phone, on your computer, little notes all around.
  • Do it with others | Find a workout partner, a collaborator on a project, a group class. Doing a project or going through change with others is always an amazing idea.
  • Get a coach | I am a big believer in coaching, for many reasons — but one of the simplest reasons is that if you have someone you’re paying and reporting to, you’ll simply be much more likely to follow through. And a coach can see patterns that are getting in your way that you can’t see. In fact, I am currently offering coaching if you’re willing to pay a decent amount for impactful shifts in your life — I’m looking for people on a mission, filled with uncertainty, who want an expert trainer to help them open into that uncertainty (apply here if that’s you).
  • Create a challenge or game | I’ve done challenges with my family or friends: for examples, a pushup challenge, drawing challenge, or reading challenge. Or, make up games with points and rewards. It creates structure and makes it fun, two amazing ways to create change in your life!

Shared by permission | Leo Babauta