The Two-Day Rule
By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano
More than a year ago, we wrote a blog article on a psychological tool to tackle your greatest goals: The 100% Rule. It’s notion was simple, albeit not easy – hold your rules (whether that be a diet, a daily workout, or a regular writing practice) strictly, 100% of the time. This means no cheat meals, no days off, and no straying from a path of total discipline. As psychologists describe, it’s actually easier for us to commit to something 100% than it is 98%. This is because if we know we have an “out,” then we open ourselves up to the opportunity of failure each and every day. And, eventually, the mental fatigue of the decision making alone (“Will I wake up for my run, or should I sleep in?”) will lead us to choose the easier option.
While we still believe in The 100% Rule, we have another psychological tip for tackling your goal – that includes some cheat days! It’s The Two Day Rule – As Matt D’Avella describes, it simply means never skipping the thing you're trying to accomplish more than one day in a row.
This works for a few different reasons:
Rules help us succeed: Left to our own devices, we will likely let our current desires and impulses guide our actions, which can accumulate to create productive habits that are inconsistent at best. No great athlete, business executive, leader, artist, or record breaker has ever achieved their goals without some sorts of rules in place.
No slumps: Keeping at it with no more than 24hr off prevents you from falling into a slump and taking weeks – or months – detoured from your ultimate goal. With no two days off, you’re committing 50% of your life (at a bare minimum) to working toward your finish line. It’s easy to say “just this once” day after day after day; let the Two Day Rule break that opportunity!
It’s manageable: The 100% Rule can be intimidating. Just like a strict diet or work-out plan you hate isn’t likely to stick for the long haul, committing to a rule you know you can tackle while not feeling overwhelmed is key to true success.
Here are the steps to begin implementing the Two Day Rule in your daily life:
First, decide on your goal. What is the end goal (e.g., “get healthier”), and what are the daily habits to reach that end goal (e.g., “go on a 30-minute walk.”)
Next, commit to the Rule. It doesn’t hurt to tell other people to hold yourself accountable, or to simply have a partner to join the goal/Rule alongside you!
Thirdly, break out your calendar. We recommend a new calendar, clear of all of your other commitments.
Finally, track your daily habit on your calendar. Put an “X” on the days you skip, and ensure there are never two X’s in a row! Simple (albeit still not easy!) as that.
How can we help with your goal-setting? Please let us know by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org!