Change Starts with your Environment.

Willpower won’t work! Habits happen. The easiest way to interrupt a bad habit and replace it with a good habit is by shaping your environment. So many people beat themselves up over a lack of willpower when what is missing is a lack of commitment.

When you are committed, you’ll shape your environment to eliminate temptation and foster the behavior you want to adopt. If you’re serious about eating healthier, you will remove junk food from your home and always ensure you have healthy food available.

Midnight hungry dog.jpg

When you are committed, you don’t rely on willpower; that inner resource that depletes as the day progresses leaving us vulnerable to temptation. If you take a moment to reflect, you will realize that most of your bad habits occur during the last hours of your day. That is because your willpower has left you naked to temptation. If you haven’t remove the temptation from your environment, you have effectively set yourself up for failure. If you want to change your behavior, start by changing your environment.

Learn more, Learn the Skill of Willpower & Identify ONE Bad Habit, Interrupt and Replace It.

Drinking Habit Loop

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Neglect leads to bad habits.

Bad habits form when we neglect to link them to their long-term consequences. One of our greatest gifts as human beings is our ability to link our decisions today with the long-term results they will produce. This mindfulness leads to better decisions. Good habits are forged through discipline; the ability to sacrifice an immediate, often short-lived pleasure for long term progress that leads to true fulfillment.

Awareness is the beginning of life change. Bad habits form at the subconscious level. When we lack mindfulness, our base instincts take over. Our actions will be driven by a desire to gain pleasure or avoid pain. When we allow ourselves to be controlled by our base instincts, we are neglecting our gift and operating at the same level as the animals. Neglect is normal. Bad habits are normal. If we want to be extraordinary, we need to operate at a higher level.

 

The Habit: Week-10 (Develop Consistency through Accountability)

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Stephen Covey

If you have been following this weekly blog, thank you! This week’s challenge is to determine if you have been successful at adopting some of the habits I have suggested or any other habits you have decided to adopt. The best way to become consistent is to track our consistency.

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

What gets measured gets managed, simply means that examining an activity forces us to pay more attention to it. The simple act of measuring and recording forces us to make more thoughtful choices and decisions. Budget experts have found that daily logging expenses can help people cut their spending by making them more mindful of how they spend their money.

The same is true for logging our food. A 2009 weight loss study found that participants who were asked to log their food naturally began to identify patterns, which made them want to do a better job of planning their meals ahead of time; this, in turn, led to healthier food choices. The group that kept food logs lost twice as much weight as the other study participants that did not log their foods. [i]

MyFitnessPal released an astonishing statistic that 88% of people who logged their food for seven days lost weight.[ii] The more you track, the greater your likelihood of reaching your goals. Your progress must be measurable to achieve it, and the act of measuring will automatically modify your behavior.

“If you want it, measure it. If you can’t measure it, forget it.” Peter Drucker.

Activity trackers work on the same concept of what gets measured gets managed. Monitoring your daily activity will automatically cause you to modify your behavior and become more active daily. You will start taking the stairs more often and parking your car further away from building entrances. Each time you hit your daily goal, it generates another small win. Small wins will help you stay motivated.

I think a simple notepad is one of the most powerful self-improvement tools in existence when used to log activity. Logging the activity creates awareness. Awareness is the first step in changing behavior. It is the first step toward transformation. When you log an activity, you become more mindful of your decisions, big and small.

Often it is the small, seemingly insignificant decisions that are sabotaging our success. Eating that cookie in the break room, losing valuable time by allowing yourself to become distracted while working on something important, skipping a workout, or staying up late watching TV instead of getting a good night’s sleep. Anyone of these decisions by themselves isn’t devastating, but their accumulative effects are. Whatever it is you want to improve, your time management, your leadership, your relationships, your business, your eating patterns, your exercise consistency, or your spending can be tracked. Be relentless. Track everything related to the behavior you want to improve. Awareness is the first step toward transformation. Bad habits are the result of neglect. Mindfulness prevents us from mindlessly doing things that are sabotaging us.

 I am a firm believer in Peter Drucker’s management principle “What gets measured gets managed.” Anyone that has ever kept a financial spending log or food log knows that they changed their spending or eating behavior when they kept a record of the activity. When we monitor an activity, we naturally become more mindful of our choices. We automatically modify our behavior and make better decisions. It is so simple to understand, I am always amazed how many people don’t use it to improve their personal or professional performance.

If you really want to change a behavior track it for at least a week, a month would be even better, two months optimal. If you want to improve your performance, you must track your performance. If you cannot track it, you will not achieve it. Everything and anything you want to improve can be measured. You might think some things can’t be measured, like building employee loyalty, but I would argue it can.

If a leader wants to build loyalty in their organization, they could decide that twice a week they are going to visit two employees whose managers say they have been doing a great job and paying them a compliment for their excellent work. She could then inquire as to how they are doing and ask if there are any resources they need, including training, to help them be even more effective. Tracking her consistency would be the lead indicators, and quarterly feedback from culture surveys would be the lag indicator. Loyalty is a two-way street. Showing employees that the leadership values their contribution, and is committed to their professional development is how you earn loyalty.

Awareness is the first step in transformation. If we are serious about improving any area of our life, we need some method of tracking the behavior. You could use habit-forming apps like Strides, Streaks, Fabulous, and Toodledo, help you track and develop new habits. The Strides app allows you to create instant habits by programming action triggers. You can program multiple reminders for each task, and the app tracks your consistency.

Maintaining a checklist is a simple, very effective method of tracking consistency. Sabina Nawaz wrote a great article on the subject for the Harvard Business Review, Break Bad Habits with a Simple Checklist.[iii] The author suggests you make a list of daily habits you need to abandon and the new ones you need to adopt to move your career forward. The list you create must be actionable. If you are overly critical, you will create a daily habit of showing appreciation; paying someone a compliment each day for their good work. Recognizing what people do well, instead of fault finding.

Many people have an irrational dislike for checklists, but their effectiveness is undeniable. The New York Times Best Seller, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, demonstrates the effectiveness of checklists. The author was inspired to write the book based on the amazing effectiveness a 5-point checklist had on reducing death rates in Intensive Care Units (ICU’s).[iv]

The checklist addressed one of the most preventable causes of death in ICUs, central-line-associated bloodstream infections. The checklist reduced infection rates by 66% and is estimated to have saved 1,500 lives in its first three months of implementation during the Michigan Keystone: ICU Project.[v]

What was on this amazingly effective checklist? The checklist included: washing of hands; cleaning the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic; putting sterile drapes over the entire patient; wearing a sterile mask, hat, gown, and gloves; and putting a sterile dressing over the catheter site once the line is in.

Many doctors resisted the checklist. They felt it was just another form to complete, and that it would prevent them from spending more time attending to the patient. Some felt the list insulted their intelligence since the items were so rudimentary. Nurses had to be empowered to enforce the checklist because doctors were often the ones omitting a step. Even after the results were announced some still thought it was not necessary, but when asked whether they would want the checklist used if they were having an operation, 93 percent said yes!

I have developed two checklists you can use to help track your consistency. I hope you will accept this week’s challenge and measure your consistency. We become what we consistently do. To be better, we have to consistently do better.

The Habit Score Card (pdf)

The Habit Score Card

The Habit Score Card (Example)

Habit Score Card (pdf)

Habit Score Card (Excel)

 

“We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle

 

“We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.” Richard G. Scott

Until next week, good luck!

We become what we CONSISTENTLY DO. Change your habits, change your life! 

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Best wishes and Best Health!

Book NOW Available on Amazon!

Printed Book Cover

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.

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

[i] Lora E. Burke, PhD, MPH, FAHA, FAAN, Jing Wang, PhD, MPH, RN, Graduate Student Researcher, and Mary Ann Sevick, ScD, RN, Research Scientist, “Self-Monitoring in Weight Loss: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Jan; 111(1): 92–102. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.10.008.

[ii] Mike Lee, “MyFitnessPal Works if You Use It,” MyFitnessPal, November 17, 2014.

[iii] Sabina Nawaz, “Break Bad Habits with a Simple Checklist,” Harvard Business Review, February 10, 2017.

[iv] Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Picador; Reprint edition (January 4, 2011)

[v] Sandeep Jauhar, “One Thing After Another,” The New York Times, January 22, 2010.

DISCIPLINE ISN’T SOMETHING WE ARE BORN WITH

Our behaviors and attitudes are inseparably linked. When we change one, we change the other. Get in the habit of making good decisions, and you’ll become a person that habitually makes good decisions. We don’t do because we are, we are because we do. Habits form our character. Our reputation to ourselves and others is based on our habitual patterns of behavior; our habits.

When we form disciplined habits, we become a disciplined person. We developed character through our actions, not because we innately possess the virtue. We are all born the same, naked, ignorant, unable to even lift our heads. In “The Last Days Newsletter,” Leonard Ravenhill tells the story of a small group of tourists visiting a beautiful picturesque village. One of the tourists asks an old man of the village if any great men had been born in this village. The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”[i]

Set in place a routine that reflects a disciplined person and you’ll become a disciplined person. When we routinely do difficult things, habit makes the difficult things easy. When the difficult becomes easy, life becomes easier. If we become better, our life’s will become better. Life is designed to give us what we deserve, not what we want. The farmer that doesn’t plant in the Spring cannot expect to reap a harvest in the Fall.

A better life can’t be handed to us. If we want success, we must work hard to become the person that success requires. We must make the necessary sacrifices. Success is simple, but it is not easy. To be successful, you have to give-up what most people are unwilling to sacrifice.

To be successful, you must do all those little things, day after day, that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do. It really is that simple. Life never gets better by chance, it gets better by change. Success is always deliberate. Each day is our life in miniature. How we spend each day, determines what kind of life we are going to have.

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Compound interest makes you wealthy; compound efforts make you successful. Unsuccessful people aren’t mindful of their daily patterns, so they fall into bad habits. They want success, but they don’t want to do what is required. Wanting more, without being willing to develop your skills through diligent effort; fuels disappointment. Looking for an above average job, with average skills is frustrating. Wanting to lose weight without reducing your caloric intake is frustrating. When you lose focus on your goals, you neglect the little decisions. This neglect leads to bad habits.

Bad habits are easy to form if you aren’t mindful of your decisions and patterns of behavior. Albert Einstein described compound interest as the eighth wonder of the world. He said those that understand it earn it while those that don’t pay it. The same is true of habits. Those that understand their importance put a lot of effort into cultivating good habits. The cumulative effects of our habits can be either positive or negative. The accumulated effects of bad habits lead to crisis. Those that don’t understand the importance of habits neglect them. They let them form unconsciously. They sleepwalk through their days, and by extension their lives.

The 5% of people that write down their goals and review them daily achieve more success than the other 95% combined because they keep their goals at the forefront of their consciousness. Reaffirming their goals keeps their actions in line with their values. Reconnecting with their goals activates their reticular activating system (RAS), which causes our minds to search our environment for resources to help us accomplish our goals. Their goals guide their daily decisions and actions. Unsuccessful people get lost in the daily obligations of life and immediate gratifications of making poor decisions. They have some vague ideas of what their goals are, but they don’t really think about them very often and rarely write them down.

Discipline isn’t a character trait, it is a HABIT. Change your habits, change your life! 

Learn more Discipline & Procrastination are Habits, NOT Personality Traits

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Printed Book Cover

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 act. 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.

#theFatLossHabit #FatLoss #WeightLoss  #GetHealthy #HealthyLife #Fitness #Nutrition #FitQuote #GetFit #NoExcuses #TrainHard #GetStrong #WeightTraining #Workout #Motivation #Positive #Inspiration #Habit #Happiness #YouCanDoIt #Success #BodyTransformation

[i] Leonard Ravenhill, PRAYER The Last Days Newsletter/June 1982

 

The Habit: Week-8 (Identify ONE Keystone Habit Related to your Goal)

Last week’s challenge was to identify one wildly important goal. This week our challenge is identifying ONE Keystone Habit related to your goal. You might be wondering, what is a Keystone Habit?

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes keystone habits as, “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”

A keystone habit is powerful because it causes us to modify our behavior in other areas of our life. Habits that foster discipline and impulse control are keystone habits. Discipline in one area of our life has been demonstrated to improve self-control in other areas.

Keystone habits.PNG

When we develop the habit of discipline, and we give ourselves more evidence to cultivate the belief that we are disciplined. Affirmations like, “I am disciplined,” must be supported by evidence if we are going to convince our inner cynic. The more evidence we provide through our actions, the more we reinforce our belief, the stronger that belief becomes. This positive reinforcing-feedback loop can alter our lives.

Self-control is like a muscle, which can be developed through regular use. Exercising self-control, discipline, becomes a habit. The habit of doing what we should and not falling prey to inner weakness is the greatest habit we can cultivate. Every successful person develops the habit of discipline related to their craft. 

Psychologists Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng conducted a study in which participants stuck to a regular exercise routine. After two months, the participants performed better on other self-control tests. Outside the lab, there were unexpected benefits. The exercise habit leads to significant improvements in a wide range of regulatory behaviors such as less impulsive spending; better dietary habits; decreased alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine consumption; and fewer hours watching TV. [i]

Mark Muraven, Ph.D., at the University of Albany in New York, conducted a study in which participants practiced small acts of self-control for two weeks. Participants demonstrated significant improvements on a laboratory measure of self-control. His results were consistent with Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng’s self-control strength model that compared the development of self-control to the development of muscular strength through lifting weights.

Each time we exercise self-control, our capacity increases. He concluded that “the results suggest that by practicing small acts of self-control, overall self-control capacity can be increased. Put another way, it is possible to strengthen the self-control muscle through exercise, leading to better outcomes.”[ii]

If you have difficulty exercising discipline in one area, you can use this halo effect to your advantage by first developing self-control in another area. This approach will improve your chances of success. While it would be best to develop the most impactful habit, related to your wildly important goal, you might want to take this indirect approach. For example, if you want to lose body fat, the most impactful activity you could do, would be logging your food to create a caloric deficit on the MyFitnessPal app (Google or iTunes), but if you find controlling your eating is too difficult, you might begin with daily exercise.

Daily exercise will make you more mindful of what you are feeding your body as fuel, and it will build your self-control muscle. I believe exercise is an easier habit to develop because it doesn’t involve sacrificing foods we enjoy and exercise itself provides its own rewards.

Exercise releases endorphins that make us feel wonderful. Completing a tough workout provides us with a sense of accomplishment which makes us feel great about ourselves, boosts our confidence, and triggers the release of dopamine. When our dopamine system is activated, we are more positive, excited and eager to go after goals.

Eventually, you could develop the habit of controlling your food portion sizes. A portion of protein is roughly the size of your palm, a portion of carbohydrates is what will fit in your cupped hand, and a portion of fat is the size of your thumb. You can eat large amounts of vegetables since they have a low caloric density, and are rich in nutrients and fiber. As your discipline muscle strengthens, you might find logging your food isn’t as difficult as it once was.

This indirect spillover benefit is akin to the advice of training your legs to develop bigger arms. Compound exercises engage two or more different joints stimulating multiple muscle groups. They place much greater stress on the body than single joint arm training. This greater stress boosts our testosterone and growth hormone levels. Exercises like the squat and deadlift make our bodies more anabolic, by improving our hormone profile, which spills over into the development of other muscle groups, like the arms.[iii]

The most effective tool for developing a new habit is creating an action trigger. An action trigger is a specific time and place when you pre-decide you will execute a specific action. In the scenario we have been discussing, you could pre-decide that you are going to work out first thing every morning.

To make sleeping in harder, and conversely getting up easier, you could shape your environment by charging your phone in the bathroom. This will force you to get out of bed to turn it off. You could also layout your workout clothing the night before. This will save time, and make exercising that much easier in the morning.

Action triggers are akin to forming an instant habit because it eliminates the need to decide. It allows your mind to essentially operate on autopilot, like when you perform a behavior out of habit.

How effective are action triggers? Peter Gollwitzer, a psychologist, at New York University that has pioneered research on the power of action triggers conducted a study involving student participation rates on an extra credit writing assignment.

Students had to write a paper describing how they spend Christmas Eve and submit the paper by December 26th. One group was required to create an action trigger for completing the assignment. For example, “I will write the paper, while sitting at the kitchen table, at 6:00 AM Christmas morning before everyone wakes up.” The participation rate for the group that did not create an action trigger was 33%, while the group that created a trigger had a remarkable 75% participation rate!

Your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to identify and cultivate ONE Keystone Habit. You might want to brainstorm all the various habits you could form. After you have created your list of possible habits, ask yourself:

  1. Which habit would be most impactful?
  2. Can I develop this habit directly or do I need to build-up to this habit indirectly?

If the answer to the second question is NO, look for the next most impactful habit, and repeat the series of questions until the answer is YES.

Until next week, good luck!

Success requires you develop the habit of discipline. Change your habits, change your life! 

Best wishes and Best Health!

If you enjoyed this article, please LIKE and SHARE.

Follow us on Facebook

Book NOW Available on Amazon!

Printed Book Cover (09.08.17)

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.

#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

[i] Oaten M, and Cheng K, “Longitudinal gains in self-regulation from regular physical exercise,” Br J Health Psychol. 2006 Nov; 11 (Pt 4):717-33.

[ii] Mark Muraven, Building Self-Control Strength: Practicing Self-Control Leads to Improved Self-Control Performance, J Exp Soc Psychol. 2010 Mar 1; 46(2): 465–468. doi:  10.1016/j.jesp.2009.12.011

[iii] ANTHONY J. YEUNG, Want Bigger Arms? Then Keep Doing Squats , GQ.com, December 6, 2016

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