Remember New Year’s Eve? On December 31st you may have made a New Year’s Resolution or set some goals. Usually this means making change. Letting go of bad habits and creating new habits. So, I just want to ask you “How’s it going?” I am guessing that no matter what goal you set for yourself three months ago, you could be experiencing some struggles.
Right about now, is when some people give up on the changes they committed to make at the beginning of the year. This doesn’t need to be you! I have four tools to help you “have your own back”, honor the commitments for change that you made with yourself and keep you moving forward towards success.
Here are the tools:
- The Book “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson. A quick easy read. You can get it on Audible or Amazon. Here is the summary in a nutshell: Be mindful of the slight edge of creation. Ask yourself is this choice moving me a slight edge closer to my goal or a slight edge further away from my goal. One Big Mac on rare occasions is not an issue. However, a Big Mac every day will create health issues. You might gain weight, develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol or even Type II Diabetes. In other words, the small choices you make on a regular basis will either move you towards your goal or away from it. Be mindful of your choices.
- Awareness of your habit loops from the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, can help you transform bad habits into good habits. This book is available from both Amazon and Audible. In a Nutshell: Habit loops consist of a Trigger, a behavior and a reward. You can’t change the trigger or the reward, but Duhigg discovered you can change the loop. He had a trigger every afternoon at work that had him walking mindlessly to the cafeteria where he ate junk food and visited with co-workers. Duhigg found he was gaining weight. His trigger happened every afternoon and he felt rewarded after eating the junk food and visiting with his co-workers. Wanting to stop his weight gain, he tried substituting healthy food for the junk food while chatting with his co-workers. That didn’t give him the feeling of reward. Next, he tried not eating while visiting with his co-workers. He didn’t get the reward. Finally, after much trial and error he found a walk outside gave him the same reward as eating junk food and visiting with co-workers. Another great example of this is when smokers chew gum, use toothpicks or suckers to replace their cigarettes. When you are triggered, use trial and error to learn how you can replace your unhealthy behavior (loop) with a healthy behavior (loop) that will give you the same reward.
- Minimum Base Line. You are already using minimum base lines in your life. Ask yourself how many days you will go without a shower, without brushing your teeth, not exercising, etc. I shower everyday except if I am ill. Yet even when I am ill I can only go one day without a shower. No matter how sick I am by day two I must shower. I just can’t stand to go any longer without a shower. This is an example of the lowest amount of time or minimum base line before I shower. When you are using minimum base line, your focus is to strengthen your brain or what some might call self-discipline. It is not about reaching a goal. Once you have successfully used this tool to create self-discipline, then you can work towards your goal. Pick an area of your work or life that you have been unsuccessful in making the desired change. Then start with your minimum base line for this change and slowly build to the level you desire. For example, you want to go for a daily run, but you keep putting it off. Start by running for only five minutes three times a week. If you can honor that commitment to yourself, that is your minimum base line. If you can’t honor it, drop it lower. Run for five minutes one day a week. Still too difficult? Try putting on your running shoes, but don’t go for a run. When you can consistently honor that minimum base line then and only then do you gradually raise the commitment. Move up from putting on your shoes 1 day a week, to 2 days a week, to 3 days a week. Next go for a five-minute run once a week. Then go for a five-minute run twice a week, then three times a week. When you can run five minutes a day, five days a week, raise the minimum base line to ten minutes and so on. In the beginning, you won’t lose a lot of weight or build a lot body muscle. You will build your mindset muscle. With a strong mindset you can create anything you desire!
- Count down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Launch. This tool has been scientifically proven to kick you out of your limbic reactionary brain and put you into your prefrontal cortex where you have the power to act. Let’s say you are powerless at the grocery store to walk past the candy without buying a bag of chocolate and binge eating it. Candy is not on your shopping list but shampoo, eggs, milk, steak and veggies are. As you are walking into the store you count (it must be backwards from 5) and imagine yourself like a rocket launching yourself past the candy aisle non-stop, without pickup the candy, straight towards the veggies and steak. Use this same count down to launch yourself to start your exercise, or to write the email you need to write instead of watching TV. Simply visualize what you want to do or don’t want to do, count backwards from 5 and launch yourself towards the action you want to take.
Using these tools, you are sure to let go of those bad habits and say hello to new habits and life you want to create.