Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Power of Habits

I have a saying that I use with some people:

"Most of what we do in life is a habit."

That's to say that the majority of people (not all) are in the career they're in, not because they actively chose it but because they've ended up there, they eat the food they eat because "it's just what I eat" and heck, some people are with their life partners because they seemed to "end up with them." They're living by their habits.

High aspirations, I think not...

If you repeat something often enough it becomes a habit rather than a conscious thought.

I saw a quote recently:
"Nobody ever wrote a plan to be broke, fat, lazy or stupid..."

And that's exactly my point. Much of the life we posses has come to us not by proactive mapping of our life, aspiring to various milestones along the way and moving along stepping stones towards an end goal. instead, they have come as a result of our habits; habits that we haven't intentionally chosen with an end goal in mind. But what if we looked at these habits and made a conscious effort to amend them in order to impact our future selves?..

By proactively choosing your desired outcome, you can put in place some conscious actions which eventually, become your habit.

It was Aristotle who said:
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."

Start with something obvious - your physique. Do you look exactly how you want to look?

You look the way you look not by accident or chance, but because of your choices, lifestyle and habits.

If you can actively change your mindset, alter your actions I guarantee your body will follow. Here's what I mean....

It's said that in order to form a habit, you need to do something 21-28 times consecutively (depending on who you ask). The key part here is consecutively. Too many people try to alter their eating habits and weekend one comes around and shock horror they've picked up on the term "cheat meal" / "treat meal" and they're knocking back McDonalds like it's about to go out of business. At this stage you cannot have a cheat meal - you do not have the habit of healthy eating yet. Therefore, this isn't a "cheat meal" - it's simply your normal habits rearing their unwelcome face again.

If your current diet is your issue set that as your 21 days to focus on it. Some people may call it a "detox" but I look at it from a different point of view. Don't do it with the intention of detoxifying your body (as if that's just a 3 week process), do it with the intention of switching your mindest and, as a result, your bodies setting to healthier habits.

For 21 days, allow yourself no treats, no alcohol, no sweats, nothing that you probably describe as "exciting" or "fun". You're not a dog - get your excitement elsewhere - not from food. "But it's boring not drinking"... I tell you what is boring: trying on clothes and nothing fits properly, being in a group of friends and feeling conscious of the way you look, feeling uncomfortable every time you might need to reveal certain body parts in front of people, looking at yourself in the mirror and not liking what you see - THAT'S boring!

Week 1 - Immediately you will have the "forbidden fruit" feelings. Just because you've consciously said, "I can't have it", you want it even more. This is natural and will only last a couple of day. Change your mental approach and rather than say "I want it and can't have it."
Say: "I CAN have it... but I choose not to."
Week 2 - Now you ACTUALLY want it. Week 2 is the tipping point. Most people can make it here fairly comfortably; it's those that strive to conquer week 3 that actually change their habits with any longevity.
Week 3 - Defeat week 3 and you're there. You should really start to notice a change in what your body is saying to you. For instance, if you've managed to swap your daily bowl of (not so) Special K for 21 breakfasts of eggs and turkey then your desire for the old breakfast should have depleted. You probably aren't craving alcohol by now and, you might EVEN be considering adding on week 4... GO FOR IT! The longer you can abstain during your habit building phase the better!

Don't worry - this isn't forever.  But... It's not a short-term fix; it's an intensive period designed to adjust your bodies cravings by adjusting your thoughts and actions. This should allow you to take better control of your eating habits and build an awareness of your habits and eating cravings or desires. You may even choose to re-visit this technique later in the year if for some reason you've fallen back into old habits (often after Christmas, a stag/hen do, a holiday or even a festival).

This isn't designed to be sustainable for the rest of your life. You are going far beyond what you would do on a daily basis. For these 3-4 weeks you might even live what you consider to be an unsustainable lifestyle. That's fine - it's just a few weeks!

If you DO manage to make significant changes to your habits then that's great. You can now move on and apply the same method to other less desirable habits. For instance:

- How often you visit the gym

- Drinking habits
- Smoking
- Sleep patterns
- Attitude and positivity
- Confidence through self affirmation

The possibilities are endless! Go forth and explore the power of 21!!!

Here E.T / Eric Thomas aka: "The Hip Hop Preacher" talks more about "The Power of 21"

UFC Commentator and all round spiritual guy, Joe Rogan puts it slightly differently (including some rude words) but take note, particularly his points on the benefits of exercise and his final point "The brain is the general, the troops are the body..." Spare 4 minutes and watch this

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