When I do my sit-ups in the morning, I lose count all the time. I’ll start thinking about what I dreamed of at night, what I want to write about later, or what’s on my to-do list for the day. “Am I on 44 or 54? Dang it!”
Last week, I made one simple change, and it is already making a difference: Instead of counting solely in my head, I yell out every tenth number. “10!” “20!” “30!” “40!” Yell is an overstatement. In the little air that’s left between reps, it’s more of a whisper — but it’s enough. I haven’t lost count once since implementing this tweak.
People wonder why Tesla is so highly valued, why Harry Potter succeeded after being rejected by 12 publishers, and how Trump ever became president. Things like this happen because, as a species, we meme our dreams into existence.
The same dynamic applies on the individual level and for much smaller goals and milestones. “I will run before breakfast tomorrow. I will run before breakfast tomorrow. I will run before breakfast tomorrow.” Repeat anything out loud three times in front of your mirror at night, and watch what happens. It’s a silly little quirk, this whole affirmation thing — almost a loophole in our brain circuitry — but it works.
Just like you can use words to change reality, you can use them to cement it once it’s there. “50!” “60!” “70!” Fitness is an obvious example, but it works in other domains too. The more frequently I tell people I’m an author, the more inclined I am to work on my next book. It’s manufactured accountability when you reaffirm things to others, but a lot of the time, it works even if the only party listening is yourself.
“80!” “90!” “100!” Try it. Speak your achievements. It’ll feel good, keep you accountable, and, most importantly, it’ll help you not lose count of the many steps you’ll have to take until you reach the real top of a mountain that was once nothing more than a meme.