In January, I wrote a blog about how I was setting out to complete a 100-day ice bath challenge and promised a follow-up. I know ice baths / cold plunges are part of the latest trends on social media right now and to some, it's annoying. Wait though – this blog isn’t about the benefits of Ice Baths, it’s about staying the course when the motivation wanes.
I am happy to announce I hit 100 days on April 13th. I made it through a few weeks of negative-degree weather, water temps just above 32 degrees, and pounds & pounds of ice. As I reflect on the 100 days, here are three pieces of advice I would give to those working to develop a new and challenging habit.
1. Eat the frog!
The best advice I can give to create a new habit is to “eat the frog”. If you are new to that term, it means to do the hardest part of your day first. Often the task needed to create the new habit is the most difficult part of our day. We’re trying to rewire our minds to create a new normal and it can be extremely hard to do.
Looking back on the 100-day journey, when I did the ice bath within the first few hours of the day, they were 100% better than the days I procrastinated. The longer I put it off, the more excuses I created to avoid it altogether and the harder it was to get in the cold water. I also found the days I did my ice bath early were more productive and I had a sense of accomplishment throughout the day. Start your day with a win and eat the frog!
2. Quitting is a short-term gain but causes a long-term problem
Always remember quitting is easy, and you must prepare for that little voice inside your head trying to persuade you to give up. The voice in your head is powerful and, as you know, can be extremely supportive or your biggest enemy. Throughout the entire 100 days, my inner voice was consistently trying to talk me out of getting in the cold water. In the first few days of the challenge, the voice was persistent and on those hard days, hard to suppress.
“Just start this challenge when it gets warmer.”
“No one will blame you for stopping.”
“You can’t afford to get sick right now – stay out of the water.”
I realized around day 45 the voice never fully goes away (at least for me). It does however get easier to ignore/overcome. The more and more I accomplished my daily goal of the ice bath, the less and less power that voice had. As you work to develop the habits in your life, be prepared for those counter-productive thoughts and arm yourself with progressive improvements and your reasons why. Motivation will fade away and the voice will creep in louder and louder. Ask yourself, "Will the short-term benefits of not doing my daily habit outweigh the long-term disappointment?”
3. Do one more…
February in Chicago is brutally cold temperatures with high winds. Those early days and nights I sat in my kitchen looking at the ice bath telling myself not to do it. On day 34, it started to become overwhelming to think about getting to 100.
But then I started taking it one day at a time. I stopped looking at day 100 and would tell myself to go one more day. Day after day, I did this and things got easier. After a couple of weeks of this thinking, I gained momentum. I found myself welcoming the ice baths (though that voice in my head never went away) and embracing the challenge. Multiple times, I had to recount what day I was on because I had forgotten. As develop your habits, focus on what is in your control each day rather than the goal. Push yourself to simply win that day and to do one more…
I will say, the impact it has had on my life has been amazing. Mentally I feel clearer, I have less anxiety, and I have more natural energy…so try it if you get a chance.
I hope this blog helps you as you work to accomplish your goals. My first blog referenced the groundwork I set by embracing the Four Cornerstones of Success®. Hopefully, part 2 helps with the challenges many faces after the motivation fades away. At Butler Street, we help teams develop habits that allow them to be industry experts. Whether in a leadership, sales, recruiting, or account management role, we can help you grow. If this is an area of opportunity for you and your group, I would welcome your time to connect.
Related - Part 1: The Ice Bath Challenge