After 7 Years, I Finally Nailed Daily Meditation

Leverage pre-commitment pacts to smash your goals

I first learned meditation when I was 21. I went for the full-on experience. A silent 10-day vipassana retreat.

Some would call this jumping in at the deep end. I had just graduated and 10 days of free food were enough to pique my interest.

The experience was unique and unlike anything I had encountered before.

Day 1 was a shock. I realized how chaotic my mind was. By day 3, I was sold — wandering around the gardens in a state of bliss, my body buzzing with energy. Day 4–6 I was plotting my escape. I could not take it any longer. On day 8, having failed to escape through the hedge, my mood lifted. Day 10 was huge, I could talk to my fellow students again.

The retreat was powerful, if not life-changing. I had some wonderful experiences. I spent time with my thoughts. I realized how derailing the monkey mind can be.

Post retreat

I was motivated to meditate every day. This lasted until the first weekend. I missed a day, then another, then a week had gone by. Whoops!

The same story occurred time and time again.

Every time I hear about a new app or a podcast harps on about the benefits of meditation a surge of motivation hits me. I knock out a streak of 2–10 days. I miss a day, I miss a week.

I had never managed more than 2 weeks in a row.

Then I learned about pre-commitments. A tool to stay on track when building habits.

I made a price pact with myself

I committed to losing £10 on days I failed to meditate. Losses motivate us far more than rewards. Not only did I commit to losing £10. I made it visceral and I left myself a visual reminder.

A £5 note dangles from a string attached to a lighter.
Daily meditation
Pre-commitment pact
Habit formation
Relaxation
Nature
Zen
Mindfulness
Photo by Edd Mowbray

The pandemic meant I had to settle for a fiver. Who has cash these days? Anyway, the thought of inhaling polymer fumes felt like bonus points.

My pact

If I failed to meditate that day I would take the lighter and burn the note.

I checked — I think this is legal in the UK. Defacing a note is illegal, but destroying one gets the green light.

Burning money may be illegal in other countries. Come up with a different pact — or never miss a day! Consider donating to an “anti-charity”. Perhaps a political organization you disagree with, or a rival sports team? Think of an organization you absolutely can not face funding.

The method is simple.

I see the note every morning and evening. I am reminded that failing to meditate = financial loss (and dirtied lungs).

If I don’t X, then I lose Y.

Apply this to any habit you are trying to install. This could be hitting the gym or eating a handful of leafy greens.

Obstacles & solutions

Take a couple of minutes to think about what might derail your new habit. What if I’m traveling? What if it’s raining and I don’t want to go for a run? What If the store ran out of cabbage? What if my family is sick?

Now generate a solution for the potential obstacle. How can I adapt to this scenario? What still counts as a hit if the universe threw you a curveball?

At this point, I leveraged B.J. Fogg’s Wisdom.

“The essence of Tiny Habits is this: Take a behavior you want, make it tiny, find where it fits naturally in your life, and nurture its growth. If you want to create long-term change, it’s best to start small”. B.J. Fogg — Tiny Habits

I decided that 1 minute would still count as a “hit” for me. That’s ridiculously easy, how on earth could I fail that? The rationale is that once I’ve started, 1 minute will likely turn into more anyway.

I knew I would be traveling a few weeks after my pact. This presented a test to my newly formed habit. I decided to tuck the note into my kindle when I was on the road — I never fail to read before bed. If I got to the end of a day and hadn’t meditated yet, I would see the note and get my minute in before sleeping.

Results

I have now meditated every day for over 5 months. At this point, the habit is ingrained. There has only been one day when my meditation was around the minute mark. This saved my streak, momentum, and lungs!

Lady meditating
Daily habits
Success
Atomic Habits
Motivation
Positive
Photo by Madison Lavern on Unsplash

I am a life coach based in the UK. Clients often work with me to gain clarity on their goals and the path to achieving them. Habits are a regular feature of my coaching sessions as they facilitate powerful changes.

Crafting your best life is much easier with a partner. Take a look at my services to find out more.

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