Stop Constantly Checking Email!

If you want to be productive, you must do things that produce results. Being busy isn’t the same thing as being productive. Determine one thing you need to accomplish each day and work on it during your most productive hours. The first two to three hours of your workday are your most valuable. Your creativity, focus, and energy are at their best. Don’t squander your best hours on low priority tasks.

Win your morning, and you win your day. We have all experienced days where we felt like we did a lot, only to realize we didn’t accomplish anything meaningful. You’ll discover that you spent the day reacting to others instead of sticking to your plan. I recommend you use your smartphone to check your schedule for the day and ensure there are no legitimate emergencies in your inbox, then ignore it. Don’t even open your email browser until after lunch.

Spend the best hours of your workday on your most impactful task. Devote yourself to something that will produce results. Checking email is addictive, but you must overcome the temptation to continually respond to everyone else’s demands and work on meaningful projects. That is how you become productive. If you want to be more productive than 90% of your colleagues, stop checking emails and start producing.

Learn more, Eliminate Distractions to Reclaim your Focus & Productivity

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The Habit: Week-17 (Eliminate Distractions to Reclaim your Focus & Productivity)

“We are creating and encouraging a culture of distraction where we are increasingly disconnected from the people and events around us, and increasingly unable to engage in long-form thinking. People now feel anxious when their brains are unstimulated.” Joe Kraus

Distraction is a real problem in our society. Most of us could do more, but we are mired in distractions. Our lives are made up of time, and distractions can rob us of some of our best hours. Social media is the biggest distractor. I predict that an obsession with social media will be recognized by the medical community as a new form of addiction. Do you think my use of the word addiction is hyperbole? Perhaps you should try deleting all your social media apps for a week. Did a shiver go up your spine? This week’s challenge is a difficult one, but well worth it. This week’s challenge is to eliminate distractions so you can reclaim your focus, creativity, and productivity.

Our smartphones were created to be as addictive as a slot machine. Like a slot machine, our smart phones work on the principle of variable rewards. Every time we receive a reward, it gives us a hit of dopamine. Each time we check our social feed, it is like pulling the lever. Because the reward isn’t a certainty, it creates the excitement of anticipation.

When we receive a reward, in this case, a like or comment, our dopamine system is activated. We receive a feeling of accomplishment, like when we complete a tough workout or finish an important project. Checking an item off of our to-do list gives us a shot of dopamine. When we check items off our to-do list, it makes us feel great about ourselves, but we must remember that being productive, means we are producing. We shouldn’t mistake being busy with being productive, and we shouldn’t mistake comments and likes for meaningful accomplishment. Unfortunately, our rewards system cannot make the distinction.

The founders of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and Whatsapp all understood gaming theory and used that knowledge to make their products as addictive as possible. Like hackers, they exploited a vulnerability in our rewards system. These apps dial right into our rewards system to make us feel good. They understood that to be successful, they had to capture our attention and hold it as long as possible so they could sell that attention to advertisers.

We live in the era of the “attention economy.” As information has become more abundant, attention has become scarcer. To be successful, the creators of popular apps had to make their products as seductive as possible. A prime example of the use of variable rewards is the notification feature on each app, which I recommend you turn off.

The notification feature lets you know that something is waiting for you. It beacons you to click, pull the lever, and see if you have won anything. Like email, you hope the notification is a good one. It creates a feedback loop that – exploits our desire for a hit of dopamine. Unfortunately, the reward is not an accomplishment. I don’t derive any real satisfaction from spending time on social media. Social media produces that same guilty feeling I feel after eating too much dessert. It is an unsatisfying temporary escape. If you are prone to social comparison, it could cause you to become depressed. If your life doesn’t compare favorably to the the lives of your friends, it can make you feel bad about yourself. Likes and comments on social media might activate our dopamine system, but we haven’t done anything meaningful. It is a negative addiction, not a positive one like beginning each day tackling your most impactful task.

The creators of these apps wanted to make them as addictive as possible. Consumption wasn’t enough, like food manufactures and big tobacco the product had to be addictive. The more of our time they can consume; the more money they can charge advertisers. Food manufactures know that processed carbohydrates do not produce a feeling of fullness and encourage people to overeat. Food manufacturers exploit this to increase revenue. They know that if they lace food with sugar, we will eat more and eat more often.  It is criminal in my opinion given the obesity rates in the United States, but of course, it is not illegal. A study, published in The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, concluded that “Increasing intakes of refined carbohydrate (corn syrup) concomitant with decreasing intakes of fiber paralleled the upward trend in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes observed in the United States during the 20th century.”[i]

Food manufactures are no better than the cigarette manufacturers who add chemicals to their products to make them more addictive. Some add ammonia, which increases the speed which nicotine is delivered to the brain, and sugars, to increase the addictive effects of nicotine and make it easier to inhale tobacco smoke.  Of course, we cannot lay all the blame for the rise in obesity rates on the food manufactures. We are responsible for our food choices, and they would not be able to sell their products if there were not a demand for them. The same is true of social media. We cannot place all the blame on the creators of these apps that rob us of our lives one click at a time.

Time is our most valuable resource. Time is the substance of our lives. Time lost can never be found. Most things in life can be replaced. You can lose money, your house, your car, and they can all be replaced, but not lost time. Social media is designed to rob us of our time and attention; resources we need to build a better life. Our smart phone is a powerful tool. We should use it, and never allow it to use us. We need to monitor our use of it and recognize that overuse is a problem.

Steve Jobs understood the disruptive nature of technology, that is why he didn’t allow his children to have an iPad.[ii] He considered his ability to focus his greatest strength. He would eliminate all distractions when he was tackling a dificult problem. He brought focus to Apple’s product line. When he was brought back to Apple they were developing 25 products, he quickly reduced that number to five.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” Steve Jobs

Did you know the mere presence of our smart phones has been proven to make us less intelligent? A study by the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research examined the effect a turned-off smart phone would have on a persons ability to think. The study concluded it reduces individuals’ working memory and problem-solving skills. [iii] Technology is a tool, we should use it, not let it use us. If we want to reclaim our time, attention, and focus; we need to stop feeding distraction. We need to rain it in. The more we feed the beast, the stronger it will grow until it consumes a large chunk of our life. It produces stress in our lives by making us busier at accomplishing nothing. It leaves us less and less time to do what is meaningful and important. It is like running in place instead of moving forward. If life is a journey, these distractions are off-ramps to nowhere. We need to starve distraction and feed our focus. “An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.” Robin S. Sharma

The most effective way to eliminate distractions is by removing them from your environment. No temptation, no willpower required. It is much easier to shape our environment than to exert control over it. If we are committed to being more productive, we will shape our environment. Close your email and charge your phone out of sight. Commit.

Take back your mornings. We have the most willpower, energy and focus in the morning. Don’t squander your best hours watching cute cat videos. Create bubbles of focus; times when you will eliminate distractions and tackle your most meaningful work with single-minded focus. “Until my ONE thing is done, everything else is a distraction.” Gary W. Keller

I recommend deploying Robin Sharma’s 90/90/1 Rule, if you want to be more productive. For the next 90-days, spend your first 90-minutes, on your one (1) most important project. It’s simple, but it requires discipline and commitment.  The first step is to create a bubble of focus; an environment with no distractions. Unclutter your work area. Close your email. Charge your phone out of sight. Close your door. Let people know that you don’t want to be disturbed during this window of time. These steps might seem extreme, but the payoffs are well worth it.

You will discover that you are able to get more done in those 90-minutes of a focused effort than you do in a typical day. That is because interruptions are devastating to our productivity. Studies have demonstrated that after an interruption it takes our mind more than 20-minutes to refocus on our original task. Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine concluded it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task following an interruption.”[iv]

Brian Tracy, author of the highly successful book, Eat That Frog, recommends you get in the habit of doing your most difficult task first thing in the morning without delay. The book’s title alludes to a famous Mark Twain quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” His three-step process, “The Three D’s of a New Habit Formation,” decision, discipline, and determination.

Decision is the first and most important step. You must decide what task will have the greatest impact on your success. He subscribes to the Pareto Principle that 80% of our results come from 20% of our actions. Do not confuse activity with productivity. Being busy is not the same thing as being productive. Your activities must be impactful. Discipline, the second step, is necessary to overcome our tendency to procrastinate. Determination is the third and last step in the process. Determination is required to stay focused on a task long enough to complete it without distraction.

Challenge yourself to eat that frog! View it as a personal challenge. This one habit will transform your career and life. He recommends you do not stare at that frog too long. When it is time to begin, do not delay. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and stay on task until it is complete.

It does not pay to think about it too much because it leads to procrastination. It is much easier to continue a task than to begin one, so get to it. You might not have everything you need to finish, but that is no reason you should not start with what you have, and do what you can.

Throw yourself into the task and let momentum take over. Do not think about it, be about it. Do not wait until you feel like doing it. That moment will never come. That is why discipline is so important to developing productive habits. Some tasks can be so daunting that they cause us to hesitate; that hesitation causes our mind to begin rationalizing why it would be better to do it later. Hesitation leads to procrastination. Procrastination is a lapse in discipline. We are putting off what we can do, what we should do, what we must do.

I hope you will accept this week’s challenge to take back your best hours by eliminating distractions. Social media can be very addictive. Even email can be a huge distraction that disrupts our productivity. I recommend you monitor how much time you spend on each and set-up designated times for checking them. The most effective approach to becoming more productive is to create bubbles of focus in which you shape your environment by removing all distractions. You will be more productive and less stressed. Best of luck!

Key Points:

1)   Distraction is a real problem in our society.

2)   Your smartphone is as addictive as a slot machine. The creators of social media apps wanted to make them as addictive as possible. They used gaming theory to grab your attention so they could sell it to advertisers.

3)   Your smartphone makes you stupid. The mere presence of our smartphones decreases our working memory and problem-solving skills.

4)    Distractions have a devastating impact on our productivity.  It takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task following an interruption.

5)   Create bubbles of focus. After eliminating all distractions, spend the first 90-minutes of each day working on your most impactful project. Shut down your email, turnoff all notifications, and charge your phone out of sight to eliminate disruptions. Take back your most productive hours and do what will create a real sense of accomplishment.

Learn more, The Habit of Success – Eat That Frog!

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Until next week, good luck!

Develop the habit of eliminating distractions & creating bubbles of focus. Change your habits, change your life!

If you enjoyed this article, please LIKE and SHARE.

Follow us on Facebook & Instagram

Best wishes and Best Health!

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Book Available on AMAZON – Paperback, Kindle & Audible Audiobook

#theFatLossHabit #FatLoss #WeightLoss #NewYearsResolution #GetHealthy #HealthyLife #Fitness #FitnessAddict #Nutrition #FitQuote #GetFit #NoExcuses #TrainHard #GetStrong #WeightTraining #Workout #Motivation #Positive #Inspiration #Habit #Happiness #YouCanDoIt #Success #BodyTransformation #FitGirl #FitMom #FitFam #FitCouple #mantra #groupnorms #mirrorneurons

[i] Lee S Gross, Li Li, Earl S Ford, and Simin Liu, “Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States: an ecologic assessment,” American Society for Clinical Nutrition 2004.
[ii] NICK BILTON, Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent, The New York Times, Fashion & Style, Septber 10, 2014.https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/fashion/steve-jobs-apple-was-a-low-tech-parent.html
[iii] ROBINSON MEYER, Your Smartphone Reduces Your Brainpower, Even If It’s Just Sitting There, The Atlantic, AUG 2, 2017.
[iv] BY KERMIT PATTISON, Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching, Fast Company, 07/28/2008

 

The Habit: Week-16 (Learn the Skill of Willpower)

“Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” Charles Duhigg author of the Bestseller, The Power of Habit

This week’s challenge is to develop willpower. Willpower is absolutely necessary to our success. It is the one skill that allows us to develop every other skill. We all struggle with willpower, but if we are serious about growing and getting better, it needs to be a daily priority. The great news is that we can all develop it. If you don’t believe you have willpower, we will need to address that self-limiting belief because it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right” Henry Ford

First, we will dispel the notion that willpower is a character trait and not a learnable skill. Next, we will learn some strategies to cultivate willpower. Last, we will learn how to reduce our need for willpower by controlling our environment.

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Willpower isn’t something you are born with, like blue eyes. Like any skill, willpower can be developed. A great measure of Starbucks’ success can be attributed to its training program that is designed to develop willpower in its baristas. Starbucks business model is based on us being willing to pay top dollar for our coffee by providing us a first-class customer experience. The challenge they faced was training their baristas to deliver on that promise consistently, despite any personal problems they may be experiencing or the rudeness of any particular customer. Dealing with rude and belligerent customers professionally requires willpower. We must resist our natural tendency to reciprocate.

Many of Starbucks employees come from dysfunctional homes where they were never taught the proper way to process emotions, make decisions, or react to stressful situations. Remember the basal ganglia, our primitive brain? It is responsible for how we learn, make decisions, and how we process emotions. As children, we learn how to act and react by watching the adults around us. In functional families, this is a blessing, but in dysfunctional families, it is a curse.

How does Starbucks teach its employees how to serve a little joy with each customer’s order, despite any personal difficulties they may be experiencing? How do they teach them how to react to a rude or belligerent customer? Starbucks provides a series of courses that begin on their first day, and continue throughout their career. The courses teach the life skills their families, communities, and schools often failed to teach. New employees receive a minimum of fifty hours of classroom instruction their first year. They are also given take-home workbook assignments and assigned a mentor.

Starbucks decided willpower, like any skill or habit, could be taught, with the expectation of a reward. Starbucks is thus teaching its employees to react to a multitude of situations in a manner consistent with the company’s goal of providing a first-rate customer experience that creates a little joy in the life of their customers. The curriculum centers on building the habit of willpower. Employees are taught the basics of how to react to specific situations they will face, like an irate customer. They are also asked to create a plan of action for each situation. Managers drill them by role-playing situations over and over until the response becomes automatic. The employees are taught to anticipate the reward, a happy customer, and a compliment from their manager.[i]

We can apply the same methodology Starbucks uses to develop our willpower. The first step is to identify situations, people, places, and things that have sabotaged our efforts to be more disciplined. The next step is to develop a plan. The third step is to rehearse our plan. And the last step is to reward ourselves for executing our plan.

We want to identify situations, people, places, and things that have caused our willpower to fail. We obviously want to shape our environment to minimize these temptations, but perhaps some of them are unavoidable. For example, you might be expected to attend a family gathering where the food options are not healthy.

If we are struggling with our weight, chances are great that our family is also overweight. As much as people like to curse their genetics if they examined their family’s food choices and attitudes toward diet and exercise they would conclude that these are huge contributing factors. Our obesity epidemic isn’t being driven by changes in our genetics, it is being driven by changes in our eating behavior.

If you are going to attend a family gathering where the food choices are going to be unhealthy, you must plan ahead. Before the gathering, eat small amounts of high protein foods and fibrous vegetables in the morning when your willpower is strongest. If you want to avoid overeating at the gathering, eat a small high protein meal just before going. High protein foods will help to keep your hunger in-check better than any other type of food.

Since your hunger will be in check, you will be less tempted to overeat the unhealthy foods. Less temptation, less willpower required. You can even keep a small snack in your car, if you become hungry you have a healthier option available. The snack could be a serving of Greek yogurt, deli meat rolled-up with a slice of low-fat cheese, a protein shake, or some beef jerky in a cooler. If people are going to be drinking at the gathering, you can bring bottles of Topo-Chico, or some other type of mineral water so you’ll have something to drink while others are popping bottles of beer. If you choose to drink, I recommend you stick with clear alcohols, like vodka.

The key is planning ahead by eating almost exclusively high protein foods and fibrous vegetables before the indulgence, tracking everything you eat, and committing to not exceeding your maintenance caloric intake by more than 250 to 350 calories. If you are trying to lose weight, tracking your food is highly recommended; especially on days where you will be eating any heavy foods. Portion control is also effective, but not as precise. A portion of protein is roughly the size of your palm, a portion of carbohydrates is what will fit in your cupped hand, a portion of fat is the size of your thumb. As long as you don’t put cheese or heavy sauces on them, you can eat a lot of fibrous vegetables without worry of weight gain.

In this scenario, it isn’t just the situation that is tempting us. It is also our family’s attitudes and behaviors. Family and friends can either be a good influence on our behavior or bad influence on our behavior. They are either discouragers of bad behavior, or they are accomplices. The more time we spend with people that lack willpower, the less willpower we will demonstrate. We are the average of the people we spend the most time with. If you want to do better, spend time with people that are better than you. It will raise your game.

Designing a reward for executing our plan should be a part of our planning process. “What gets rewarded gets repeated.” John E. Jones Your reward for sticking to your plan could be having a bowl of fruit with whip cream after the temptation has passed. This shouldn’t sabotage your diet, and it gives you something to look forward to while you are overcoming the temptation. You could also choose a non-food reward like going to the movies or purchasing a new pair of running shoes. We often neglect to acknowledge our small daily victories. A great practice to adopt is to capture these small wins in a journal each night.

I recently started the habit of beginning and ending each day journaling for 5-minutes; using a countdown timer. I capture my goals in the morning and my small wins in the evening. Reconnecting with our priorities each morning is a must, and recording our small wins helps us to sustain motivation by activating our dopamine system. Measuring and recording small wins will encourage us to achieve more wins. What gets measured gets managed. Recording an activity modifies our behavior through greater awareness. If you were to record every time you read each day by crossing out the date on a calendar, you would become more consistent at reading each day.

Our success can be sabotaged by things in our environment. Let’s say we want to be more productive. We need to exert willpower. Our plan needs to center around eliminating distractions. Technology can save us a lot of time, but it can also rob us of our focus. Apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram were designed to be addictive. Constantly looking at your phone, or checking your email will make you much less productive at work. You feel like you are productive when you are responding to emails, but you aren’t. Do not confuse activity with productivity. Being busy is not the same thing as being productive. Your activities must be impactful.

distraction at work with smartphone

When we are working on an important project, we should close our email and ignore our phone. Every time we allow ourselves to be distracted, we lose valuable time. Every time we change our focus, our mind has to reorient itself to what we were doing before the distraction.

A useful analogy is an assembly line. If we are producing multiple products, we will finish producing the first product, before we produce any other products because we would have to retool our assembly line before we began production of the second item. Our mind has to retool itself every time we change focus. This is very inefficient and hurts our productivity, flow, and momentum.

AssemblyLine

Most time management experts recommend you limit checking email to once or twice a day to avoid its disruptive effects. The worst thing you can do each day when you get to work is to check your email, but that is what most people do. That is why I use the Delay Delivery option in Outlook to deliver my emails that require action to arrive in people’s inbox first thing in the morning. That way my email will be at the top of their inbox. They will be more likely to respond quicker than if it were at the bottom of their email inbox because I had sent it the previous evening.

Beginning our workday by tackling our most important task is a game changer. Devoting our first 90-minutes to our most important task of the day will have a huge impact on our personal productivity. We have the most willpower, and we are our most productive the first two to three hours of our day. Use this window of optimal performance to attack your most important and daunting projects. View it as a personal challenge to immediately begin working on your top priority each morning without delay. This one habit will transform your career and life.

Throw yourself into the task and let momentum take over. Do not think about it, be about it. Do not wait until you feel like doing it. That moment will never come. You will never feel like doing what is difficult. That is why willpower and discipline are so important to being successful. Some tasks can be so daunting that they cause us to hesitate; that hesitation causes our mind to begin rationalizing why it would be better to do it later. The longer you hesitate, the less likely you will be to act. You must beat your brain. You must overcome your inclination to hesitate. Distractions can also cause us to hesitate and waste some of our most productive hours.

If we want to be productive, we must eliminate all distractions. Charge our phone out of sight, and turn off any alerts. Close Outlook. We should never begin our day by checking email. When we begin our day checking our email we are programming ourselves to be reactive. Win the first hour of your day, and you’ll win the rest of your day. The days we begin by replying to emails and the demands of others, are the days in which nothing meaningful gets accomplished. Those are the days that you feel like you did a lot, but actually accomplished nothing meaningful. We want to run our days not have our days run us. If we don’t make achieving our priorities a daily thing, it will be nothing.

The habit of routinely beginning each day working on our most impactful task provides immediate and long-term benefits. Task completion gives us a sense of accomplishment, and this makes us feel awesome about ourselves. It triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical most closely related to long-term happiness.

When our dopamine system is activated, we are more positive, excited and eager to go after goals.[ii] The more impactful and challenging the task completed, the better we feel about ourselves. You will begin to crave these happiness hormones. This positive addiction will grow stronger over time. Like a muscle, it will grow stronger through repetition and effort. Eventually, it will become a part of who you are. It will be ingrained in your psyche.

Every small win, every item checked off our to-do list makes us feel great. One thing that universally makes all of us happy is progress. When we are getting better, in any area of our lives, we feel great. We feel like a winner.

Progress equals happiness. Progress is the game.” – Tony Robbins

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work explains how progress improves the inner work life of employees and teams. Improvements in inner work life drive higher levels of performance and engagement; which in turn leads to better progress and enhanced inner work life. The author calls these reinforcing benefits, the “progress loop.” As you make progress, you rack-up small wins. These small wins make us feel great about ourselves, which stimulates the release of dopamine. When we are making progress in any area of our life, it gives us a sense of accomplishment. It gives us a sense of worth.

Each small win in which you exert willpower over your environment will provide evidence to yourself that you are a person of willpower. Each small win acts as a reference point. Beliefs are like a table top. They need something underneath them to hold them up. The more reference points you generate, the more evidence you provide yourself; the more credible the belief will be.

Willpower isn’t something you are born with, it is something you develop, like a muscle. The similarities don’t end there. Like a muscle, your willpower will fatigue as the day progresses. “According to psychological research, your willpower is like a muscle. It’s a finite resource that depletes with use. As a result, by the end of your strenuous days, your willpower muscles are exhausted, and you’re left to your naked and defenseless self – with zero control to stop the night-time munchies and time wasters.” Benjamin Hardy, Author of Willpower Doesn’t Work

We would be wise to schedule tasks that require the most willpower early in the day. If you struggle with exercising, you will increase your odds of success by working out immediately after waking up each morning. Dieting requires a lot of willpower. If you are like me, your impulse control diminishes at the end of the day. As the day progresses, my hunger increases and my willpower decreases. A useful strategy I have adopted is eating small, light meals early in the day when my willpower is strongest. I reserve my heaviest meals for the end of the day. It isn’t when we eat our calories, but how many calories we eat each day that controls whether we gain or lose weight. We need to take advantage of the times we have the strongest willpower to achieve our goals.

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Author Benjamin Hardy says that if you are truly committed to your goal, you will not need to rely on willpower. You will shape your environment to support your goal. When you are committed to a goal, you will shape your environment to foster that goal.[iii] You will eliminate people, places, or things that will tempt you to stray off your chosen path. If the temptation is removed from the environment, willpower isn’t required. I wholeheartedly agree.

It is a lot easier to shape our environment than it is to exert willpower over it. If you are committed to not eating junk food, you will eliminate it from your home. If you want to read more, you will set-up an environment for reading without distraction. You’ll schedule a time to do it each day. What get’s scheduled gets done.

In high school, I remember thinking how stupid it was for a parent to place a kid that just got out of rehab back into the high school that they were attending when they got addicted. Inevitably they would start hanging out with their old accomplices, and the drug use would begin again.

“The addict only needs to change one thing…their whole damn life.”  – Ben Hill, PhD

The willpower approach to achieving our goals focuses on our ability to overcome our environment when it would be so much easier to shape our environment. In our book, The Fat Loss Habit, we teach you how to shape your environment to become leaner, fitter and stronger.

We should focus our energy on shaping our environment because it is so much more effective than the willpower approach. If there is nothing to tempt us at the end of the day, when our willpower is depleted, and we are vulnerable to temptation, we have nothing to fear. This is really common sense, but how many people consciously shape their environment to foster their success? If you don’t want to shape your environment, you aren’t committed.

If you are serious about eating healthy, you’ll eliminate junk food from your home. You’ll stop going to dinner with friends whose eating, and drinking behavior will have a bad influence on you. You’ll join a weight loss group. You’ll find someone who will encourage you to workout. You’ll associate with people who have achieved the fitness goals you desire. You’ll make a financial commitment to getting in shape by signing up for personal training sessions. This will also create an additional layer of accountability.

If you don’t want to shape your environment to foster your goals, you aren’t serious. Just admit it to yourself. I don’t want to sound harsh, but sometimes we need to face up to our own bullshit and stop lying to ourselves. We need to take ownership. We need to take responsibility for everything that is within our control.

We cannot control everything in our environment, but we can control most things. If you aren’t controlling everything that is within your power, you aren’t committed. Your desire to achieve isn’t greater than your desire to continue receiving the rewards your current lifestyle is providing you. If that is your decision, that is fine. Just stop telling yourself it is because you lack willpower. It has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with conscious choice.

I hope you’ll accept this week’s challenge to develop your willpower so you will be able to overcome the temptations that have sabotaged you in the past. I hope you will begin shaping your environment to eliminate all the unnecessary temptations that currently exist.

Willpower and discipline are crucial to your success and mine. We all struggle with willpower. We all come-up short occasionally, but we should make sure that we don’t make our journey harder than it has to be by neglecting to eliminate the temptations that are within our control.

Key Points:

1)    Willpower is a skill: We can develop willpower. We do it by developing a plan to overcome temptation, rehearsing the plan, executing the plan, and finding ways to reward each small victory.

2)    Willpower is like a muscle: Willpower can be developed through conditioning like a muscle, but like a muscle, it depletes with use. Perform tasks that require the most willpower early in the day.

3)    Record small wins: Find a way to record every small win. Recording small wins makes us happy, and the act of recording positively affects our behavior by making us more conscious of it. Recording small wins works on the progress principle. Progress activates our dopamine system. It causes us to feel more positive, excited and eager to go after goals; which leads to more progress; creating a reinforcing progress loop.  

4)    If we are SERIOUS, we will shape our environment to eliminate the need for willpower: When we are committed to achieving a goal, we will remove every temptation in our control. We will avoid people, places, and things that will tempt us. It is much easier to shape our environment than to rely on self-restraint. No temptation, no willpower required!

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Learn more, SELF MASTERY & THE STORY OF TWO WOLVES

Until next week, good luck!

Engineer your day and shape your environment to foster good habits. Change your habits, change your life!

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Follow us on Facebook & Instagram

Best wishes and Best Health!

Book Available on AMAZON – Paperback, Kindle & Audible Audiobook

 cover (jpeg) 09.29.2017

Are you ready to reboot and reset your relationship with food and exercise? Most programs focus on the mechanics of weight loss but fail to adequately address the psychology of change required. Most people know more than enough about nutrition and exercise to lose weight, but fail to take action. This book takes a new approach to getting leaner, fitter, and stronger. 

The Fat Loss Habit: Creating Routines that Make Willpower and Fat Loss Automatic takes a new approach to getting leaner, fitter, and stronger. The program uses high-impact change strategies that make the process of adopting a healthy lifestyle easier. The nutrition and workout program, like the change techniques, have all been proven effective, and are all backed by research and scientific studies.

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[i] Charles, Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 7, 2014) p. 129-144.

[ii] Susan S. Lang, Dopamine linked to a personality trait and happiness, Cornell Chronicle, October 24, 1996.

[iii] Benjamin P. Hardy, Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success, Hachette Books (March 6, 2018)