There is a huge underestimation of what continuous progress that is interrupted can do, compared to bursts of actions.
As an example, there could be someone who goes to the gym for a month every day, but there could be a person who went to the gym 3 times a week but for 3 years. Which one of them is more healthy? I think that it is clear.
Another example would be a person that practised the language every day for 15 minutes for 3 years compared to a person that forced himself to study the language every day for 2 hours for a month. Again the same result, the increased short term output doesn’t compensate for the burnout achieved due to complete abandonment of the habit.
Usually, when we add new goals and ideas to our schedule, even though we realise that progress will not be seen straight away, we expect there to be some results in the short term. There was the reason for you starting to eat healthily or reading more books? That is why when we think about the new task, we try to maximise as much time as we can give to the task straight away.
This is a natural thing that our brain does as we through a sheer will power try to overpower the old habits of not doing the task. That is why when you go to the gym, you get the membership even though statistically speaking, you have always stopped going to the gym completely after the first month. That is why getting the membership not only didn’t save you money, but it forced you into the burnout as you wanted to get as much out of the membership as possible.
The science of precommitment
In social sciences and behavioural economics, there is a term that is known as precommitment.
As an example of buying a gym membership, you precommitment yourself to going to the gym by spending the money in advance. Subconsciously you know that it will be hard to force yourself to go to the gym, but by spending money already in advance, you subconsciously hope and relax as you now should have a better reason to feel the expectations to arrive at the gym.
The same thing can be said about the workout buddy. If you both agree to meet at the gym at 8:00 on a Monday and you don’t show up, you will look like a jerk and will be in a social crisis with your friend. That is a pre-commitment technique as well.
These techniques are great, and most of the time our brain has already done the hard work for us, but if you still struggle to fill the expectations and you drop the habits that you created, maybe stoping the override of huge progress in the short term and looking more for the long term can be a great idea.
Don’t overdo yourself. Start with something small, so small that it would be effortless for you to do. After you finished that you can always try to increase the difficulty bit by bit.
Start now. Get perfect later.