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Today we will start talking about habits
Last week we learned how we have been practicing and building habits all of our life. How they even feel like ‘just who I am’. That is why we need to fully understand WHY we are stuck. That is the most important part – which is often neglected because all we want is ‘out of that place’ – but now it is time to start to understand how to get out of that!
Changing these habits is really not that easy, and the most simple thing at the same time.
When you search the internet for how to break habits, you find a lot of posts with ‘the 6 tips’ the 5 ways etc. And they all read like it is that easy. Just do this this and that, and you’re done.
And really, that is true. On the other hand….. it just doesn’t feel that easy, and… 97%! of people fail at it.
Why is it SO difficult to break with something if you so badly want to do it?
First is that people just simply want the result, and don’t want to spend time investigating the previous 4 steps. If you don’t know what the habit is trying to do FOR you, you can’t ‘just change it’. It will start to peep up in other places.
Second is that we approach the habit building piece in a way that is framed to set us up for failure in the first week. You often try to ‘just change it all at once’. And that doesn’t work.
I get that you want your new results NOW, but if you really want to change your life, is it is helpful to be kind to yourself, and start changing 1% per day with a succesrate of 100% rather than change 100% a day with a succesrate of 1%.
In reality, if you knew you really wanted your results, you would be fine with it taking a year, right? So then TAKE that year to build slowly and sustainably. Other than trying to make up for your ‘lost time’.
So breathe, get over the ‘lost time’ thing, and start slowly and steadily.
Before we get into what you’ll be DOING, a few things:
1. your mind WILL try to do whatever it takes to stop you – it helps to KNOW this. This ‘mindchatter’ doesn’t sound like a whining child, but like a firetruck that you really can’t neglect. To the point where your body just gets sick and takes you out, friends call with severe injuries, you really need to know that these things will start happening, and that you really need to get what all of this means: it means you’re changing, and stuff to keep you from doing that is coming up. For me: I suddenly come up with 100 better ideas and rethink my whole business, my kids need me (REALLY!) we get financial troubles (to collection bills), etc. Remedy: ’take time!!! where you will say ’thank you’ and neglect this, and time where you don’t
2. people around you will try -from a place of love- to get you back to ‘normal’ by saying stuff like: “wow, you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself”, “I tried but couldn’t do it” etc. That is about THEM not succeeding, and not about you. If you start to listen, you will fail. This is a setup of your mind. It is about THEM not feeling comfortable, and wanting to help. But it won;t So see it for what it is, and unless they have achieved what you want, stop communicating with them.
3. your Little Voice will be going WILD, with all sorts of arguments like: this just isn’t me, I can’t do this, there has to be a different way that just nobody has discovered yet, if it doesn’t ‘feel’ good it is a sign that I shouldn’t trust is, the universe will deliver even if I don’t do this, etc
4. There are 2 types of habits, habits you ‘do’ and habits you ‘don’t do’. This last type often feels like a failure, it is very helpful to just see it as a habit. I have the habit of not opening envelopes. Just like any other habit, it is just a habit.
Both your mind and the people around you are what got you into the place you want out. It is a SET UP to think that THEY (of all people) will now be able to get you out of it.
Your Little Voice has been trained to HELP these old patterns, not to build new ones. It is a body guard, designed to keep you safe.
The way to deal with your Little Voice is by saying: thank you for sharing this, I know what you want for me, and I appreciate that, but listening to you hasn’t brought me where I want to be so far. This is really important to me, so I stop listening now. And then turn down the volume, feel and tune into what it is you really do want, sometimes check the pain of the old pattern, take 5 minutes to breathe into that, and go!
Ok, and then go do what?
I LOVE what James Clear writes about this. His steps are easy to follow, so I will illustrate them with some examples:
1. Start with an incredibly small habit – make it so easy you can’t say no
When most people struggle to stick with a new habit, they say something like, “I just need more motivation.” Or, “I wish I had as much willpower as you do.”
This is the wrong approach. Research shows that willpower is like a muscle. It gets fatigued as you use it throughout the day. Another way to think of this is that your motivation ebbs and flows. It rises and falls. Stanford professor BJ Fogg calls this the “motivation wave.”
Solve this problem by picking a new habit that is easy enough that you don’t need motivation to do it. Rather than starting with 50 pushups per day, start with 5 pushups per day. Rather than trying to meditate for 10 minutes per day, start by meditating for one minute per day. Make it easy enough that you can get it done without motivation.
We only get a very small amount of willpower every day. You should never use that to force the new habit on yourself. You use the willpower to BUILD the new habit. And then, it is a HABIT. And that new habit can be built further. Without any willpower.
I used to have a habit of NOT checking my bank accounts or opening my envelopes. A whole pattern that I beat myself up for so many times I didn;t want to be faced with it. So when I wanted to change it, it didn;t help to do it in the ‘beat up’ way.
I just started to say: hey, let’s change the habit. And I started to check my accounts daily, not to change anything, just to get used to it. And I started to open the mail that came in the same day. Not to do anything with it, just to break the habit. That was all. After one week, I started to add ’sorting’ of the bills to it. Etc.
2. Increase your habit in very small ways.
Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.
One percent improvements add up surprisingly fast. So do one percent declines.
Rather than trying to do something amazing from the beginning, start small and gradually improve. Along the way, your willpower and motivation will increase, which will make it easier to stick to your habit for good.
I tried to get rid of bad spending habits all at once. The ’10 dollars here, 10 dollars there’ had to change. We overspent on groceries to an extent that was really bad. So I started to order the groceries from one place, and never going into a store. That could save us a ton of money. Just set up a new system with a budget and tell everyone how it will work. And although it worked for me, it didn;t for my family. They just wanted to buy stuff now and then. So the resistance came from them – or so it seemed. Ending in me being the only one who stuck with it, or so it felt.
So we sat down and I explained it to them. Showed them the consequences. What they learned was that it was really badder than they thought, and I learned that I was also hiding from them, not just from the bills…. I wasn’t in real communication.
Slowly seeing where the habit actually really is, and turning around with empathy for yourself. This approach seems to me like we would never get anywhere, but in fact, it changed our lives very quickly. And the whole team is IN. And supportive.
3. As you build up, break habits into chunks
If you continue adding one percent each day, then you’ll find yourself increasing very quickly within two or three months. It is important to keep each habit reasonable, so that you can maintain momentum and make the behavior as easy as possible to accomplish.
Building up to 20 minutes of meditation? Split it into two segments of 10 minutes at first.
Trying to do 50 pushups per day? Five sets of 10 might be much easier as you make your way there.
We have a system for money with 6 jars. I wanted to put EVERY penny that enters our house in that system immediately. But it failed every time. Until I said: ok, let’s start with one dollar a day. And when the habit was built and set, it was easy to do it with the rest of the income.
4. When you slip, get back on track quickly
The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control.
Top performers make mistakes, commit errors, and get off track just like everyone else. The difference is that they get back on track as quickly as possible.
Research has shown that missing your habit once, no matter when it occurs, has no measurable impact on your long-term progress. Rather than trying to be perfect, abandon your all-or-nothing mentality.
You shouldn’t expect to fail, but you should plan for failure. Take some time to consider what will prevent your habit from happening. What are some things that are likely to get in your way? What are some daily emergencies that are likely to pull you off course? How can you plan to work around these issues? Or, at least, how you can bounce back quickly from them and get back on track?
You just need to be consistent, not perfect. Focus on building the identity of someone who never misses a habit twice.
Our mind tries to take us out by doing what school does to us: you failed!!! But this is an open book test. You are ALOUD and even REQUIRED to see how others do this, get in touch, create a group of like minded people, and hear each other on. Focus on what you DO, not what you don;t….
For instance: I have bought a dress from a jar that wasnn’t for dresses. That doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me a person with a beautiful dress who wants to enjoy life, and needs to recalculate how to do the jars that month.
The old me would have now left the whole system, starting to pend even more, to prove I wasn’t wrong.
The new me put on the dress while recalculating the jars and seeing if we can mend it.
5. Be patient. Stick to a pace you can sustain
Learning to be patient is perhaps the most critical skill of all. You can make incredible progress if you are consistent and patient.
If you are adding weight in the gym, you should probably go slower than you think. If you are adding daily sales calls to your business strategy, you should probably start with fewer than you expect to handle. Patience is everything. Do things you can sustain.
My first big thing was trying to get more money into my business. I first started with 10 calls a day. I thought I should be able to do that. But…. I had never doen that before. So I assumed it was just the 10 calls. That sounded easy…..
What I didn’t know however, is that you have follow up calls, secretaries, people you sent stuff too etc. So I lost track of so many things I felt like a complete failure. That set up took me out of the game. None was upset with me, but I assumed they where, because I didn;t call back in time, etc.
The next round I started with 1 call a day. That felt vey lame. Way too easy. Never able to really build a result. But it was 5 times as much as I was doing a week. So despite the mind chatter, I started it. And now a flow started to rise. And I could keep up with my pace.
New habits should feel easy, especially in the beginning.
If you stay consistent and continue increasing your habit it will get hard enough, fast enough. It always does.
Next week we will be talking about how to deal with your Little Voice during this whole process.
Stay tuned! Be awesome. And don;t forget to share this podcast – and leave comments of what your own experience is!