Updated: Sep 1, 2019
I don’t know about you, but for me it has always been a struggle to get into new habits for an extended period of time. I make new resolutions – either relating to work or personal life – and after a few months (sometimes weeks or even days), the new habits slip away. These resolutions could be to meditate daily, to go to the gym, to set up a specific time for that ONE project that is so important (the one that would mean so much to finish), to change an eating habit or even just stop using social media so many times a day? It seems like it’s very common to not stick to a resolution, so I wanted to share with you how I ended up succeeding.
My method is based on many years of trial and error, trial and success, and too many books and blog posts! But it is a simple and efficient method that I want to share with you.
"Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones." Benjamin Franklin
I have been working with it a lot recently with some of my coaching clients, many of whom are busy CEOs and executives that are often hard working and strong leaders, yet come to realize that they have not mastered their “own self,” and do not have leadership over their habits. So it’s time to jump into true leadership, so you can lead your own life 100%. And that starts first with mastering habits and thought patterns. Today, we will start with habits.
First, we have to understand that our brain is like computer software. It was programmed by our education, past habits, what we hear/read/see, our family traditions, our religion and our belief system. We all have been programmed like this. We believe in certain things and not in others. We follow things that we like and avoid things we don’t like. We pay attention to what we think matters most. And all this, for the most part, is driven by our unconscious mind. It’s basically a beautiful autopilot system that allows you to pretty much go through most of your daily tasks without consciously thinking about them. We need, however, to recognize that before being able to change anything inside our head, we need to hack the system to put a new program in place.
Our brain has something fascinating called “plasticity” which allows it to be re-trained or re-programmed as part of its learning capacity. Neurons make new connections and old neuronal patterns (basically, your wiring) can be changed. Old wires are unplugged and new ones are plugged in. But to do this, it takes commitment, consistency, and a certain amount of time (around six to eight weeks for a new habit to stick).
So here are 10 tips, which will allow you to HACK your auto-pilot and reprogram it without faltering:
Set up a goal. It can big as big and as challenging as you want it to be. Share this goal with your loved ones, your team, and your friends. Social pressure is a good energy to keep the goal alive.Start with a small step. For example, your goal can be to meditate daily for 30 minutes. The small step would be to meditate daily for five minutes. The daily consistency is the most important aspect of hacking the brain, while the magnitude is more difficult and will have to come gradually. So, if you want to go to the gym for one hour four times a week, start with 20 minutes four times a week, or 20 minutes twice a week.
" Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." Lao Tzu
Every morning as you wake up, visualize your goal (all this is verified by science). Close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and visualize yourself in the future with the goal achieved. You can see yourself winning a race, you can see yourself meditating daily and feel it, you can see yourself having finished your book or completing a large project. The key here is to FEEL IT as if it were already there, and not just to project yourself in the future to see it (which will only make you feel that you are not there yet, defeating the purpose).
Set a committed time in your agenda. Like a meeting. The same time every day if possible. Your brain will be strongly receptive to a new habit if you perform it at the same time each day. It will anticipate it and start preparing itself before you even start.Tell a friend/family/mentor about your progress regularly and ask them to check on you, how you are doing. You need their support and they want you to succeed. Tell them how important this would be for you.Keep a journal of your progress. Even if this seems unimportant to you, having in writing, even on a computer/phone/notepad, will help you to see your progress and keep yourself motivated. Write down what you have done and and how you felt (example: “I meditated for five minutes. I felt good and relaxed with low stress”). That’s enough; there’s no need to write a book about it J
Create a block on the road to any escape. For example, if your habit is to go to the gym, set up this time with a friend or a coach so you can’t let them down. If your habit is to finish that big business plan, set up a time in your agenda, remove all other meetings, turn off your phone and internet when you start writing (there are good apps which shut down your internet for a certain length of time), and set up a timer so you know when you are good to stop.If you miss or falter, don’t punish or blame yourself. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. You want the new practice/habit to feel good so when you fall off, just remind yourself how good it would feel if you had done it. Close your eyes and visualize yourself as explained in step three.
Celebrate milestones. For some of the big habits you can have steps to the summit. For example if you want to meditate 30 minutes daily, you could celebrate if you have been meditating for 10 days non-stop, even for just five minutes. Or, celebrate if you have just reached 15 minutes. Celebrate by recognizing the great progress, the fading away of the old habit, and the new you!Do not hesitate to revise your goal. Sometimes we set unrealistic goals. And as we seem unable to reach them, we often get totally discouraged. Remember, it’s better to reach a smaller goal and stick to that habit. It will be a rewarding feeling to set new, more achievable goals and habits.
Those 10 steps, along with an understanding of how the brain can re-learn, will allow you to succeed. If you find it hard, and need support, you can always ping me and I can set up a specifically curated plan for you with objectives and follow-up to make sure you succeed.
And lastly, remember to enjoy the journey while keeping an eye on the objectives. Remember that less than six to eight weeks of work will not fully reprogram your brain. And remember to focus on your daily progress, the commitment to change, and the bliss to have conquered a new habit, and, most of all, enjoy the ride!
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OCTOBER 22, 2014 COMMENTS