So since I’m on my self-improvement rampage, I thought I’d delve a little more deeply into the points I blogged about yesterday. This article is going to walk you through steps 1-3 of how to get back into the swing of things.
I’ll give you some more detail on how to get down on paper what you really want to achieve, why you should forget about the past, and how you can use habits to keep your success train on the rails.
Step 1: Know What You Want
Knowing what you want is the NUMBER ONE step to improving your life and feeling like you are kicking some serious butt.
Honestly, think back to a time where you wanted something, you put your mind to it, and you actually achieved it. How did that make you feel?
The truth is, most of the time, you can have anything you want if you are totally committed to it. Step 1 here is just figuring out what that thing (or things) is/are.
Without knowing what you are after – and I mean really, specifically knowing – you are very likely to fail, or give up, or just lose interest and let it fall by the wayside.
I came across this cool TEDx talk today, and I like the simplicity and effectiveness of it so I thought I’d share it with you guys. Check it out, it’s about visualizing your goals, and getting them down on paper:
I think this is a very powerful and simple technique. And I know what most people might do, they might think something like the following:
“Oh yeah, that’s kinda cool, and I can see how that would work, maybe I’ll have a go at it later”
“I get the idea, you need to visualize your goals. I know what I want though, so I’m good, I’ll just skip this step.”
Do yourself a huge favor though, and DON’T SKIP THIS STEP! Seriously, you absolutely need to be very clear about what you want and get it down on paper where you can see it everyday!
One more note before we move on to the next step; don’t worry about getting it perfect. Maybe you don’t know exactly clearly what you want yet. That’s OK!
Just put something down. Something that you think you’d get a kick out of achieving, or being. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s not set in stone, so you can always come back and change it later.
Step 2: Stop Living in the Past
I tend to do this a lot. I dwell on the past, thinking about how much better I used to be and how far I’d come. I’ve come to realize that I usually will spend a good few hours beating myself up about what could have been and why I shouldn’t have been so stupid/lazy etc. If I hadn’t let myself get lazy then I would probably have achieved all my goals by now.
Put quite simply, I spend too much time living in the past and dwelling on past mistakes.
THIS IS NOT USEFUL.
One thing I absolutely KNOW is important is that the past does not equal the present (or the future).
So it almost makes no sense to spend time or energy there.
Failing in the past is normal. It doesn’t matter if you have tried and failed before, 10 times before, 1,000 times before or even 1,000,000 times before! The truth is, if you stick at something for long enough, even if you keep failing, if you try and never stop trying until you have achieved it – then you quite literally cannot fail. The only way you guarantee failure is by actually giving up.
There is absolutely no point in thinking about what you could have/should have/would have done in the past. You can’t change it! So if you have given up in the past, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters now is that you’re going to try again!
I know from experience it can be hard to let go what has happened, but wipe the slate clean by making a concrete rule that you’re not going to think about how the past was. One thing I like to do is pretend I have amnesia and can’t remember a thing from before this moment. It allows me to get past any past history or negative thinking about the goal I want to achieve, and just focus on trying to get it done and the reward of having achieved it.
Step 3: Use Habits, Not Willpower
Many people make the mistake of trying to get motivated about their goals, and use that enthusiasm to keep driving them to action.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this. But boy is it a tough way to go about achieving your goals!
You see, the problem is that willpower and motivation are finite resources. You only have so much of them, and once you dig deep and use up your reserves, you’re running on empty (this is about the time that most people will just give up).
Let me let you in on a little secret here… The secret to success is to
Use Habits Instead of Willpower!
You see, a habit is something that we humans do almost automatically. It takes little to no effort. Most of the time, you’re running on autopilot.
Habits can be small, and they often are. Maybe you have the common habit of having a coffee every morning. No big deal, right?
But the thing is, habits can add up. If you repeat the same action every day, you’re going to experience the effects of persistent, repeated action. What we can do is latch on to your existing habits, and modify them to make them align with your goals.
Say you want to work on your fitness and start reshaping your body. You could latch on to your coffee drinking habit and make it align more closely to your goals.
For instance, create a situation where you need to go for a walk in the morning to get your day’s coffee supplies.
It may sound small, but don’t ever underestimate the power of a small, positive habit. That little walk you introduced could for instance, help you lose weight, or increase your overall health, or put you in a better frame of mind for the rest of the day so you start winning in other areas of your life as well!
The Key To Achieving Your Goals is Through Constant Improvement..
And that improvement can be made through instilling positive habits.
One awesome book about habits is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. While on that note, here are a bunch of awesome resources for anyone who’s interested to find out more about habits, how they work, and how you can harness their power.
These are all available on Amazon (click the images below to view these on Amazon) and I would recommend checking one or more of these out if you have the time.
As Charles Duhigg (Author of The Power of Habit) says:
Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.
Understanding Your Habits
Okay, so we know the importance of habits, but how can we best utilize them? To get your habits working for you (and not the other way around), you need to understand how exactly habits work.
All habits are made up of three distinct parts, according to research.
Firstly, a Cue kicks off the whole cycle. You are then prompted to carry out a Routine, and once you’ve completed the routine, you get a Reward.
Let’s look at a real-life example here, and I’ll even give you one from my own life: taking a shower.
The Cue is that I feel dirty, or maybe even smelly. So I decide to go with my normal Routine whenever I feel this cue, which is to take a nice refreshing shower.
The Reward is that I come out feeling fresh and clean. Pretty simple, right?
However, apparently there’s a lot going on behind the scenes here. And sometimes Habits that you think you can identify the Cue, Routine and Reward for, aren’t as simple as they seem on the surface. Sometimes, your routine may not even address the real cue!
Specifically, in The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg writes about how to actually modify your habits, though a defined 4-step process:
- Identify the routine
- Experiment with rewards
- Isolate the cue
- Have a plan
This framework can prove invaluable if you really want to harness the power of your habits.
Set yourself up so that action which takes you towards your goals are automatic habits, and don’t rely on willpower or motivation.
I hope you’ve found this little pep talk of an article useful, because I plan on writing again about the other steps which can help you get back on the road to success!
In this post I talked about getting your goals down on paper, forgetting about past failures or events, and working on understanding your habits so that you can harness them to take you towards your end goal.
Stay tuned for next time, as I’ve still got some more tips for you to help you on your journey to success!