Transformation requires work. We all know that. Years ago I read that to realize change, we need to start doing some things and stop doing others to get us to where we want to be.
Transformation requires these 2 “doings” – START and STOP
If you want to transform an area of your personal and/or work life, you will need to START doing something new, in different ways. Why? As I wrote last time, if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten. So, transformation requires that we START to do something new – the CHANGE.
If you want, for example, more energy, lose weight, and improve the overall sense of health in your life, you can START doing something new by:
But in order to improve your health, you will most likely need to STOP doing things that will hinder this goal:
So on this 2nd day of the new year, think about where you need transformation. Write it down. Next, create a 2-column list and write as headings START DOING and STOP DOING. Fill out each column. This list is not a wish list. It is a doing list. If you think you’ll waiver on this, share your list with a friend who can help with accountability (in fact, why not ask a friend or two to do this along with you).
We can tend to think of transformation as some sort of dramatic life event that will catapult us to a new level. Maybe in the movies, but in the real world, transformation takes planning, determination, work, and intention.
And it can be as simple as this:
START doing the things that will move you closer to what you want to be, achieve.
STOP doing the things that put up obstacles on the road to your transformation
Day after day…month after month…year after year it is the same. You keep doing the same things in your life and yet you wish things were different.
“Why can’t I lose weight?” “Why didn’t I get that promotion?”
“Why do I feel stuck financially?” “Why isn’t my relationship with my kids better?”
Deep down inside, we already know the answer. We have not seriously changed anything to help us realize our goals/dreams. We have not been transformed.
I hear this lament all the time from family and from coworkers. I’ve seen people struggle with “getting ahead” in so many arenas in life yet they keep behaving the same as they always have. They keep believing as they always have. They keep thinking as they always have.
Yet they expect different results.
How do I know this? I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about this. And I have personally struggled with this. We all have.
Why? Why have we all struggle so? Why can’t we seem to “get off the dime” and really experience change in our lives – change that we truly want to see happen?
“If you always do what you’ve always done…”
Our “doing” – our habits – have us right where we are. Right, our habits (a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up) have set the program by which we live our lives. We have so regularly practiced something…
…that it is now “settled”…it marks who we are. We don’t like it. We want to be different. But habits are “hard to give up”.
So what can we do? Note: the dictionary definition of a habit states they are hard to give up – not impossible. In other words, it is entirely POSSIBLE to change a habit to make it work FOR you and not against you.
Dr. Shad Helmstetter teaches that we can re-program our mind to think more positively by merely repeating new thoughts consistently.
“In logical progression, what we believe determines our attitudes, affects our feelings, directs our behavior, and determines our success or failure:
This works for both negative thoughts and positive thoughts. Both thoughts follow this progression.
So, if you want to transform how you think, for example, you have to change your programming – those thoughts which you allow into your mind.
The same is true for our health. If we eat unhealthy food, we will become unhealthy. A steady diet of junk food will not result in a healthy body. We were not created this way. “Garbage in, garbage out.”
So much has been written about habits. I would encourage you to read about habits, their power, and how you can truly make effective changes in your life. I recommend the following books:
The thoughts these authors share will change your life. They really will. But not by merely reading. It will be in the doing.
If you feel stuck…if you feel hopeless…if you struggle…if you are disgusted you are where you are…CHANGE YOUR HABITS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
TRANSFORMATION happens through effective habits. Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge, says that true change happens – not in huge dramatic moments – in the everyday effort of moving closer to our goals. More to come on this.
Look at your habits. Looks at your goals. If your current habits do not move you towards what you want, change them. Every day, change them.
There may be a thousand little choices in a day. All of them count.
Dr. Shad Helmstetter
This is a guest post from Alex Sal from New York.
Healthy habits and projects have life-changing potential. Both help to accelerate the process of achieving virtually all your goals because they require self-discipline, which is a quality that can be applied in all facets of life. In addition to this (as if that were not enough) healthy habits and projects also help reduce stress. And, who does not need to reduce stress?
After all, we all live in a fast-paced, highly demanding, stressful age. It’s an epoch where a multitude of demands are being made on our time, and we have a plethora of choices. Sadly, time is finite. You can’t increase it. But, you can manage yourself better by inserting healthy habits and projects into your daily rituals. The truth is that many people struggle with this – they’re easily distracted.
It’s your lucky day, if you sit a spell with me, we’ll explore how to focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects?
So, let’s focus on the task at hand. Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what it means to focus. It’s quite simple, really, to focus on something means “to pay particular attention” to it.
The following are a few proven strategies:
1) Leverage visualization and planning
Visualization and planning are superpowers if you’d like to easily ritualize healthy habits and projects. You’d need to start by consciously creating new patterns. At first blush, visualization feels a tad like daydreaming, and some people may dismiss it. The truth is that there’s scientific evidence to show that it’s effective.
Consider that everything that manifests in our lives starts in our minds as pictures. When we visualize, we’re steering our attention in a particular direction. The images we generate can be so powerful they feel like virtual reality. When this is done regularly, and coupled with planning, inserting healthy rituals become easier because we’re engaging both parts of our brains to harness and direct where our energies flow. Planning makes it easier because we are providing clear instructions to ourselves.
Visualize your path and don’t let the concept of failure get in the way.
2) Use the Power of Frequency
Have you ever wondered how you could easily recall your favorite songs? It’s due to the power of repetition. It’s very easy for what we repeat to stick. The more we try to do those things the more we’re building neural pathways that make it easy to reproduce them with ease in the future. When you repeat your goals, you’re telling your brain your priorities. As you know, prioritization is a fundamental ingredient for being able to focus.
So, consciously block out time on your calendar for healthy habits and projects. Set reminders on your computer, tablet and mobile phone. Create posters with reminders and put them in different parts of your office and home. Create musical triggers – you could select 3 of your favorite classical recordings and mentally associate them with three major habits and projects you’re trying to insert into your life. Ideally, you want music that’d galvanize you. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is a great example. So, each time you hear this song, for example, you’d know it’s time to go jogging or time to start writing that manuscript that you’ve been putting off since the 80s.
3) Eliminate Distractions
If we are honest, a lot of people know what to do, to ritualize healthy habits and projects. Distractions are what many struggle with. In fact, most of us struggle with it. Just as we can consciously create new patterns, we must consciously avoid, reduce, or destroy those things that lure us away from a more evolved version of ourselves.
It could be television, it could be social media, it could be binge-watching movies…It’s actually relative. A scriptwriter, for example, may need to be watching a lot of movies. We need to realize how vital the concept of opportunity cost is. The time we spend on X, is the same time that could have been spent on Y. Let’s suppose Mr. M wants to be a software developer or work in organization design consulting but spends most of his time on activities that do not move him towards his goal. What’s likely going to happen to his dream of being a software developer? It’s the same for us. We must consciously and regularly ask ourselves if our activities are fuel for our main goals or if they’re subtly and slowly killing them.
4) Track Your Progress
It’s important to regularly compare our realities to what we visualized. If at the beginning of the year, you envisioned a fitter and healthier you, and every month you use an app to check some of your activities and stats – if you’re on the right track – this will serve as a stimulus for you to continue on the path. It would serve as positive reinforcement for you to accentuate your focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. You would find it easier to be fixated on the healthy habits – the record of your progress will be highly motivating – because at the end of the day, leaders take their time but leaders light a fire.
We’ve explored some of the strategies to help you focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. Interestingly, it’s not difficult. It all starts with making a firm choice. It starts with envisioning a better you.
What are the main challenges you experience when trying to focus?
Alex Sal is a business journalist, startup entrepreneur, and frequent contributing writer for Markitors.com. He is also a recent graduate of economics from Queens College.
In his new book, High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard speaks about seeking clarity in Habit 1. I shared this exercise with my Emerging Leader group yesterday. I thought you might like to read this as well:
I worked through this exercise myself. I jotted down several things and finally landed on my 3 aspirational words. I created a calendar event that displays these 3 words at 5:45 am, 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm every day.
Already, there are many times when I see those words and I am reminded to be my best and do my best to act out on these words. It works. What a great reminder.
Try it. In fact, order the book and start working your own high performance habits (link to the book is provided above). Begin working on becoming better. You will not regret it.