How to guarantee yourself an awesome future

Aristotle said We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  There’s no magic formula to success, health, happiness or anything else that we may wish for in life, it’s  simply a matter of habits.

We make our habits, and then our habits make us

A habit is a behaviour that is repeated regularly and happens unconsciously.  Not particularly exciting on first inspection, yet what we’re programmed to do on a consistent and regular basis defines who we are, or rather how we show up in the world. The seemingly mundane actions of today are a darn accurate predictor of where we’re going to end up. Our daily habits set in motion our destiny.

Habits can be our best friends or our worst enemies, they have the power to support or undermine us. Which is it to be?

Creatures as complex as us humans have to be creatures of habit. Habits streamline the process of life so we’re not overloaded with hundreds of mundane decisions every day.  We get up, brush our teeth, shower, eat breakfast, drive to work…all of this is done on autopilot which frees up tremendous time and energy for the bigger, better and greater things that are within our potential as humans

By necessity we each have hundreds of habit, but have you ever stopped to examine these? Have you consciously selected and cultivated habits that are in alignment with who you want to be and how you want your life to unfold?

Most of us have probably fallen into or inherited certain habits unconsciously, but guess what? You get to pick your habits; you get to decide your own character, your own destiny.  By making small tweaks and changes to the things you do on a regular basis, you can sculpt yourself into the person you want to be; you can craft the life you want to live.

You’re the captain of your own ship

Here’s an analogy for the power of making small habit changes today.  If a ship sailing across the ocean steers a couple of centimetres to the left, the change in direction is practically imperceptible in the moment but makes a huge difference to where the ship ends up over the course of thousands of miles.  The difference could be between ending up on a beautiful tropical island where you can hop off, unwind and enjoy life at ease OR a terrible storm that ends in shipwreck and early death-by-sharks. Holy guacamole!

You’re the captain of your own ship and this is literally the decision that’s up for grabs. What do you want your | life to look like? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to end up? Are your existing habits, your routine daily behaviours, in alignment with that?  Are you sailing in the right direction?

Are you headinshipreakg for this? Doesn’t look like much fun.  And yet if we’re not consciously cultivating healthy habits this is how our body is going to end up!

Sailing on the Blue Sea

Or, something more like this?  Hmm yes, that’s looking MUCH more appealing.

An example, say your dream is to be a great writer and publish a book; do you have the habits of a great writer? Do you actually sit down and write, regularly, consistently? Not when you feel inspired or the urge takes you but dammit all the time because that’s what a writer does?!  Dream big, have the vision, but if you’re serious about living it then you need to break it down into daily and weekly actions, into habits. You need to install the habits of the person who can attain your goals and live your dreams.  In all likelihood, you need to upgrade your operating system from the current one you have installed!

But habits are hard to change, right?

By their nature habits are pretty deeply entrenched and basically automatic.  It requires a little bit of effort (2/29/2016) to come off autopilot for long enough to re-programme them.  The beauty however, is that once you’ve got a new habit in motion you can switch back to autopilot and your shiny new habit will effortless steer and support you in the direction you’ve pointed it in.

How to nail better habits for good

It’s not enough to know intellectually what we should be doing. We need to harness the power of behavioural science to put that knowledge into action.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

So I said there was no magic recipe, but there kinda is. This is from BJ Fogg, behaviour scientist at Stanford University, it’s science-based magic :-).

If you want to upgrade your behaviour for the long haul there are only two ways, so listen up.

Forget motivation and will power, they won’t stick with you for the long-haul

Motivation and will power are NOT reliable means of behaviour change, they are flaky and slippery and in limited quantity, they show up on a whim and leave just as unexpectedly. DO NOT count on them for long term change.  You need to make it so easy for yourself to change that it doesn’t matter what your flaky friends motivation and will power are up to.

For actual lasting change you have two options:

Change your environment

You can change your environment, which includes your social environment. If you want to give up booze don’t go out on the lash with your boozy friends, avoid that environment, and hang out in a social environment that promotes sobriety in one way or another, at least until your new habit has become your norm.  If you want to eat healthy, keep only healthy foods in the house and have them pre-prepared so that when you get home you can throw together a delicious, healthy dish. The action you want to take then becomes effortless and easier than going out to buy whatever you were previously eating.

The point here is that we can architect our environment when motivation is high and our minds are clear to ensure we make the choices we really want to in the moment.

DSC_0535As a personal example, I wash and lay out fruit and veg on my kitchen counter every evening. When I wake up in the morning it’s super easy to throw everything in the juicer and start the day with a ridiculously healthy juice, which is what I really want. I don’t leave this task to the morning because I know I’m going to be feeling rushed and motivation will likely be low.

????????????????????????????????????Setting this up the night before means it’s harder NOT to do the behaviour I want as it would require me to think of something else to do with the random assortment of fruit and veg that’s on the side next to the juicer. Tossing everything in the juicer is the path of least resistance.

It’s easy!

Break your goal down into a specific and tiny behaviour

Be specific and make it tiny

This is BIG! Don’t set yourself up to fail by biting off more than you can chew. Remember the fable of the tortoise and hare, slow and steady wins the race.

Whatever your goal is (e.g. being strong and healthy) break it down into a tiny habit (e.g. two push-ups a day). Make it super easy to repeat, make it so easy that you can’t fail. The tiny behaviour should underwhelm you.

If you’re like me you might have some resistance to this baby-step approach.  You might think ‘what’s the point in two push ups, that’s not achieving anything; I’ll just start training properly right away.’

The point is you’re not trying to train the final outcome here but rather automate the behaviour that will lead to your goal. You’re simply making the tiny behaviour a habit, which is like planting a seed.  Once the seed has been planted you can watch it grow effortlessly. Once the habit is engrained it picks up a momentum of its own.  The two push ups become too easy and seeing as you’re doing push-ups automatically now anyway you naturally add a few more, 3, 4, 5 and so forth. Before you know it you’re training like a ninja.

Use a trigger

You need a trigger to remind you to do the tiny behaviour. Use an existing behaviour, something you do every day, or as frequently as you want to establish the new behaviour.

Use this formula:

After I ……..wake up

I will….drink a bottle of water to hydrate

DSC_0525And remember to make it easy. This is a habit I’ve actually nailed now and I did this by filling a bottle of water up the night before and leaving it next to my yoga mat so there’s no effort required when I wake up, it’s there ready and waiting.

Write down your own formula now, go! Plant that seed!

Celebrate

Right after you’ve done your new behaviour take a moment to celebrate. You can simply smile and give yourself a mental “good work” or go all out with a power pose, round of applause or a victory dance. This positive reinforcement helps cement the habit, don’t skip it!

Upgrade your habits = Upgrade your life

Habits aren’t permanent fixtures, and neither is our destiny. Everything is malleable. Like children playing with playdough, we can shape and craft the beautiful life we dream of living through the tiny changes we make to our behaviour  today.

Be the person you want to be.

Live the life you want to live.

Plant the seeds of positive change today.

 

Bibliography

Body Thrive: Uplevel Your Body and Your Life with 10 Habits from Ayurveda and Yoga, Cate Stillman

Forget big change, start with a tiny habit  BJ Fogg at TEDxFremont http://ed.ted.com/on/fUNsaGQ5https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdKUJxjn-R8

The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg

www.jamesclear.com  – excellent blog that uncovers the habits and routines that make successful people the best at what they do.

self journalThe Self Journal – This is an awesome tool to help you get your dreams down on paper in the form of a coherent plan with executable daily actions. It helps you focus each day on the most important tasks that are going to take you slowly but surely in the direction of your overall goals and dreams. Highly recommend!

Daily_Greatness_Journal1Daily Greatness Journal – This is similar to the Self Journal. This one covers a whole year versus the 13 weeks of the Self-Journal. I’ve used this one too. They are both amazing tools to stay focused and get shit done!

Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.

  • Melanie

    GREAT POST! Thanks for the upgrade reminder! <3

    • Sam Vale Noya

      🙂