healthy habits workshop Notes
Habit creation 101
The One thing
Master just one thing at a time! Any more and you might just fail to achieve anything. Our willpower will fail if we try to change too much at once!
Master our physiology first. Our body and mind are connected, if our physiology isn't under control there's no way we can make new habits. Begin with mastering eating, exercising, and sleeping (resting too). Learning to think, through having a daily meditation practice, may just be the one thing that will help you master all. But don't believe me try it for yourself here.
Here are a few articles I've written to help you:
Habits are formed in the following order:
Cue - routine - reward
Becoming conscious of the cues and triggers in our lives that begin a habit is vital. That way we can eliminate negative cues, also known as triggers, and replace them with positive cues. What's the first thing you see when you get out of bed? Is it running shoes or a smartphone!
Without believing we can change, change will not come easily. We often don't believe in ourselves because we set unrealistic goals, like quitting too many things at once. We often associate more pain than pleasure with change. This leads to sticking with unhealthy habits. Instead focus on all the pleasure to be gained from changing. Or focus on all the pain that might be caused if we don't change.
Willpower is finite resource that runs out! Once our willpower is drained, we will do things we don't want to do. Willpower only gets topped up after a good nights sleep. It also out performs IQ in predicting academic success by a factor of 2! Here's the video I promised!
Willpower runs parallel to our smartphone battery. During the course of the day, life's events drain our willpower. That's why we often snack on sugary food in the evening. To master habit change we must use our willpower to install one habit at a time. If we try to change too much at the same time, we will drain our willpower and fail to make lasting change.
These five factors affect willpower:
- Control blood sugar - eat balanced meals, avoid snacks/ meals that just contain carbohydrates. Protein and fat slow down the digestion of sugar which stops peaks and troughs in blood sugar.
- Pre-commit - commit ahead of time to save having to make decisions. Never bringing sugary snacks into the house means never needing to spend willpower on not eating them.
- Tidy up - our brains hate clutter and mess. Start each day by making the bed and deal with clutter and mess before you set down to work.
- No fluff - our brains work much better with binary rules. Drink or do not drink alcohol. Setting a goal to drink less alcohol will not work.
- Gamification - make a competition out of life's challenges. Click here to access a free chapter to an excellent book.
Target keystone habits first. For me that was exercise, sleep and meditation. Mastering one keystone habit will make mastering everything else much easier.
Carrot or the stick? Psychologists says that we respond better to the stick than the carrot, but only in the short term. I used a combination of carrot and stick. I eventually recognised the process, change takes times. Being kind to myself made a big difference. Perfectionism was just a road to misery. Repeatedly jumping back on the horse is the only way to succeed. I focused not on aiming for perfection, instead I started aiming for progress.
I've used powerful imagery to increase my motivation. I imagine how bad life could be if I don't adopt a new healthy habit. And/ or focus on how great life will be when I have consistently installed a new healthy habit.
I tied habits together by attaching a new habit to an existing habit. If you want to start exercising in the morning, perform a wall sit whilst brushing your teeth. If you love watching TV, make a deal with yourself. You can only watch your favourite programme whilst walking on the treadmill.
Making lofty goals that are too far away from your current norm is a recipe for disaster. Remember my pull up challenge! Make bridges and steps that lead up to your goals. If you want to run a marathon but have never run before don't start with three hours runs. There is not enough willpower in the world to help you with this! Having a big goal is great but if the new behaviour is too threatening, change will come with resistance! Break lofty ambitions down into achievable steps.
Create a reason to change. The bigger your WHY, or reason to change the better. Being healthy enough to see children and grandchildren grow up is my why!
Stoics and Buddhists practice negative imagery for a reason, it works! Imagine how bad life will be if you don't change. Even better, go visit a hospital ward or an old peoples home. Just by seeing the suffering will give you the motivation to change.
Plan of action
- Value new habit
- Create a strategy - change environment, plan what you will say to friends and have alternative behaviours ready.
- Become the type of person you want to be
Other hints and tips:
- Use calendars to track progress and stay motivated.
- Use apps such as 'a way of life' and 'coach.me'.
- Try a Gong, a 100 hundred day challenge. Every time you miss a day, start from zero again! Or mini Gong - 50 days.
- Create bets and competitions with colleagues, friends and family.
- Know yourself, carrot or stick
Don't forget, for four weeks you have my free phone and email support. So if you are ever in doubt or need a quick recap I will be there to help you out.
Thanks for attending this workshop, your feedback is always welcome.
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 077912 72652
If you are interested in the rest of my work please feel free to browse my website. I also have a monthly health newsletter and free eBook that you can sign up for here.