I get the same email on a regular basis, and it goes something like this…
“I’m 200+ lbs, and I really want to change, but don’t know where to start. I’ve tried over and over again, but nothing ever sticks. Please help!”
Wanting to do something, and then finding yourself doing the exact opposite of said thing is part of the human condition. It’s also a huge source of annoyance, frustration, and poor self esteem. The more you deviate from the desires of your highest self, the more you feed your inner pessimist.
Every time you fail to reach a goal, it’s like a thanksgiving dinner for the hideous pessimist-gremlin that lives inside.
The pessimist gremlin says things like:
-“This is pointless. Just another diet.”
-“Here we go again. I give it two weeks before I fail”
-“I ate those cookies last night, like the loser I am.”
-“Screw it. I’ll start tomorrow. Today’s been a waste anyway.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that if you’ve failed to reach a goal, there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, if you’ve taken on some huge goal and failed at it, you’re pretty damn normal.
Am I saying you shouldn’t set big, lofty goals? No way. Juicy goals will propel you into a happier, more productive life.
But there’s more to changing that just setting a goal.
Here’s the thing. Humans are creatures of habit. Our entire day is comprised of hundreds of little habits we probably don’t even realize we’ve been doing. You might even have habits you’ve been doing your entire life, habits that are hardwired into your cells. Habits can definitely be changed, but they can’t all be changed, and they definitely can’t all be changed overnight!
Accomplishing any big goal requires that you change a bunch of little habits. This is what trips up most people. They take on a huge goal, and overhaul all their bad habits overnight, and it just doesn’t stick. Tackling a goal in one big bite is like building a house out of popsicle sticks.
Small improvements are believable and therefore achievable! ~ Tony Robbins
If you really want to achieve your goals, and make some permanent changes in the process, it’s all about hardwiring some new habits. You have to carve the groove for your new habits so deeply that it makes you uncomfortable to not do them! This type of habit building takes time, patience, and focused persistence.
I know you’re chomping at the bit to make those big changes now, so here’s how you do it, step by step:
Step 1. – Cultivate Awareness
Your omniscient inner guide speaks in soft whispers. It needs your attention so it can tell you what you need to hear. If you’re not listening, it’s rude. Set aside a couple minutes each day to sit quietly and be present. If this is all too hippy-mumbo-jumbo for you, just consider it time to clear the hard drive of your brain, like a daily reboot for that mega computer that controls your life.
Being present doesn’t always result in some magical, earth shattering breakthroughs. In fact, most of the time it just feels kind of like a relaxing nothingness. But it really does pay off in an endless number of ways.
So, to cultivate awareness, consider one of the following:
-10 minutes of meditation
-A quiet walk in the park
-Journaling (Julia Cameron’s Book, The Artist’s Way, is an Amazing Guide to the art of journaling)
-Do more of what makes you happy.
-Have friends over for a “phone free” dinner party
Step 2. Write down the goals that are meaningful and exciting for you
Don’t make the common mistake of just going through the motions, writing down what you think you ought to do. Write down goals that you really, really, really want to achieve.
Make your goals measurable, and set a realistic deadline.
Step 3. Write down WHY you want this goal, and the consequences of not getting this goal.
Go deep here. Keep asking “why?” until you run out of reasons. The whys of your goal are like pouring gasoline on spark. They will keep you motivated about your goal!
Step 4. One bite at a time
Take on your goal by adopting one or two new habits per every two or three weeks. It’s tempting to jump in and start doing a million things at once, but that usually leads to burnout.
You might wondering where to start. The truth is, it doesn’t matter where you start, so long as you do start. Before you adopt your new habit, make sure you have confidence that you can actually do it. At the end of two weeks, when you’ve proven to yourself that you are capable of adopting at least one new habit, add in another one. It doesn’t matter which habits you adopt in what order. At the end of a few months, you’ll have a slew of new habits, and will be a world ahead of where you started!
An ounce of action is worth a pound of contemplation, so just pick any habit to start with, and commit to that one little habit.
A great app for building new habits is called “Way of Life”. You have to commit to checking off your habits at a set time every day, and a great time to do this is an hour or two before bed. It feels so good to give yourself a little green checkmark at the end of the day, and it gives you a visual snapshot of your progress.
You could also get a calendar and mark a giant X on the days that you did your habit. After a few days, you won’t want to break the chain, and the row of Xs is an incentive to keep the streak going.
The most important part of change is getting started. Start today. Don’t overthink it. Just pick one little, tiny thing and do it. When you crush that thing, do another little thing. And then another. And then another.
And THAT is how you make those big changes!