How to Successfully Implement Habits With The 2 Day Rule

This article is inspired by one of Matt D’Avella’s recent videos. I find what he says in this video really interesting and motivating. As always, take what you need and leave out the parts you don’t, always strive to do what you know is best for yourself. What matters is the results.

Our brains are really good at thinking, but they’re terrible at remembering. That’s why it’s easy to get excited about building a new habit, and just as easy to completely forget about it the next day.

Example: you’ve had a brilliant business idea right before bed but didn’t bother to write it down. You wake up the next morning to finally put it on paper. It was an amazing idea, you know it. But it’s gone, and you can’t remember any of it.

In order to force ourselves to start and maintain the right habits, we need one thing : Rules.


Setting rules for yourself

Nobody who has ever achieved any kind of success, in any field, has done so without implementing some kind of rule or system in their lives.

Setting rules for yourself helps:

  • Focusing one what you value the most.
  • Staying on track with your personal and professional goals.
  • Overall, taking control of your life.

Respecting the rules we set for ourselves is far from easy. We all procrastinate, doubt, forget, or give up.

There are a lot of actual acceptable reasons one won’t get to work. But 90% of the time, for 90% of the people, there is only one thing getting between us and the work we have to do: excuses.

We can’t commit to the work, and we pretend to look for reasons as to why we can’t get to it. But at the end of the day, the answer is in plain sight: we are the answer. And the solution to fight back is consistency. Showing up day after day, putting in the work.

Introducing the 2 day rule

The 2 day rule is extremely simple in theory, pretty hard in practice, and really hard in the long term. If it was easy, everybody would do it.

Here is the rule: never, ever, under any circumstance, skip 2 days of a habit in a row. Unless you’re really sick, or there is something completely out of your control blocking you from practicing your habit, just go and do it.

You don’t always have to put in the same time.

You don’t always have to do it at the same intensity.

You don’t even have to keep it up for 2 days in a row.

But you just have to show up and do the work.

Let’s take running as an example of a habit you could try to implement for a healthier life:

  • Never ever skip 2 days of running in a row, under any circumstance.
  • If you can’t be bothered, run only 10 mins.
  • If it’s too much, do it for 5 mins.
  • If you’d rather take it easy, walk for 15 mins and run for 15.
  • If that’s too hard, walk 10 and run 5.

There is always a way.

All you have to do is put your shoes on and go out the door. That’s true with any habit. If you want to write, your shoes are the pen and outside is your notebook (or laptop). And if you can’t write a page, write half a page. If you can’t do that, write 5 lines. If you can’t, write one line every half hour.

Why the 2 day rule is great

  • Consistency is key. Even if you don’t always put in the work at 100% capacity, the simple fact of showing up and doing it will keep the momentum.
  • Plant a lot, harvest a few. It’s the small increments that matter. Put in the work and don’t worry about the results yet, especially when you’re allowed to have a day off.
  • It gets easier. When you go for a run, the beginning is always hard. But we all have a threshold where it starts getting easier, feeling better. You run more lightly, you’re enjoying it. And you would have never gotten that far if you had stopped after 2 minutes.
  • It works really well with keystone habits. Keystone habits generate a ripple effect to other habits in your life. They’re the main drivers of your long-term improvement. By pairing the 2 day rule with a keystone habit, you’ll not only enhance your quality of life in general, but you’ll also make sure it keeps going in the long run. The most common side effects of keystone habits are: eating better, feeling better, sleeping better, feeling more energised throughout the day.

Letting go

Nobody is a machine, and you most likely will skip more than 2 days in a row at some point. The key is to manage the damage. You can set a threshold for the number of times you allow yourself to skip more than 2 days in a row. Once a month is a good way to start. Once per quarter is much harder, and once a year is master level.

Along with the 2 day rule, set the right rules for yourself, and keep them simple.

Pair them with keystone habits.

Have lots of commitment, no pessimism.

Live up to what you value the most, put in the work, and you’ll be able to live the life you’ve been picturing for yourself.

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