We often struggle with change, due to our brain's threat and reward system, which is essentially the desire to avoid risk and minimise change. To get you ready to start conquering change once and for all, let me start by sharing this quote from Jim Rohn...
"Your life doesn't get better by chance. Your life only gets better by change"
With this in mind, I'd like to give you a couple of methods to regain mastery of your brain, as opposed to you remaining subservient to it. First, it's important to remember that much of what we do on a daily basis happens without us even thinking about it consciously, i.e.: driving to work, brushing our teeth, opening the fridge, making a cup of tea. These tasks have essentially become automatic, because we don't consciously have to consider the length of a toothpaste strip on our toothbrush, or the exact number of sugar granules in our tea. These simple behaviours have been shaped and formed into an unconscious habit.
GIVE THIS A WHIRL...
Can you imagine in your mind's eye a grassy meadow, untouched by anything other than butterflies and sunshine? Now imagine walking through this virgin territory for the first time, laying down some - but not all - grass as you step. A singular crossing of the meadow will not tread down a path, but repeated trips across the meadow will create a track, which will then only become deeper and more permanent over time. The remainder of the meadow may continue to grow and flourish, but the track will stay clear with continued use (or become overgrown and reclaimed by nature without use).
The neural pathways of our minds work in much the same way. The more we drive down one particular path, the easier it becomes, because we're deepening our neural grooves. Changing a negative habit, or creating a positive replacement behaviour, takes determined effort and focused attention. Admittedly this can feel psychologically uncomfortable, and it can be difficult to override your well worn habits, so here are two ways to hack your mind's natural tendency to do nothing and stay stuck in a stagnant comfort zone, where everything is safe and easy.
1. THINK BIG, NO BIGGER THAN THAT!
Think about the person you want to become, and the life you want to live. Think about the contributions you want to make to the world, and for those in your world. Don't be shy or modest, let your imagination and your wildest dreams soar. The only limitation here really is your imagination.
Once you've imagined your improved life, act small. Wait, what? Yes, you heard me. You see, big achievements, grand missions, massive change and transformation come from the small and barely perceptible marginal gains, which then compound over time. [Additional reading: Find Your 1% Marginal Gains]
What are marginal gains? Okay, let me ask you this: How much do you want to improve in a certain area of your life or skill set, 50%, 100% how about a 1000%? Are you now sweating blood at the thought of all the hard work involved in achieving a 1000% improvement? I don't blame you, I would too, but there's a more effective way. Let's face it, to be a 1000% times bigger, better, stronger, faster than you are now is going to take a lot of work...isn't it? Your life as you know it will be over, because your nose will forever be pressed against the grindstone...won't it? How can you possibly be a 1000 times better bricklayer, PR executive, nurse, parent, spouse or spin class devotee without dedicating every living second to such a significant improvement? Imagining your life 1000% better than it is now, you're entitled to ask: "What do I have to do to be a 1000% better at ________?" I'm so glad you asked.
THE NOT-SECRET-AT-ALL FORMULA
You are probably assuming you have to make a radical life changing commitment to change? Nope. Here's all it takes: You need only improve 1/10th of 1% during each work day. That's only 1/1000th of improvement per work day, can you do that? The improvements you need to make today, need only be one tenth of the one percent of your best work from yesterday - barely perceptible to the naked eye, but an improvement all the same. Can you do that relentlessly every work day? If so, your marginal gains will compound over time (like the grass being trodden down in the meadow) to eventually create the 1000% improvement you're seeking.
Here are a couple of ideas on how you can achieve your 1/10th of 1% improvement each day: read ten pages of a book specific to your growth goals, and/or spend 30 minutes listening to an audio book or podcast, dedicated to the skill set you wish to improve upon. That's it. You don't have to burn the midnight oil, work out like a maniac, or suffocate your spouse will over-the-top stifling attention, just improve ever so slightly every day, from your best endeavours yesterday and let them compound over time. Here's the science bit...
1/1000th improvement every work day = 1/2 of 1% each work week = 2% per month = 26% each year x 10 years = 1000%
In ten years you will be 1000 times better than you were with small, seemingly insignificant improvements daily, compounded over time. It is that simple, and anyone can do it. But will you do it? Will you show up to the challenge every morning, consistently and persistently over time; a long time? That is the question; so what is your answer?
2. ONE HABIT AT A TIME
Breaking previous habit patterns will be harder than you think. Imagine jumping into a fast flowing river. If you just jump in, it's too easy to go with the flow and get carried away downstream. This basically is how habits function, they're easy to flow with and get carried away without conscious thought to challenge them; taking you to places you don't want to go (i.e.: weight control issues, addiction, antisocial behaviours).
If however you jump into a fast flowing river and try to travel upstream against the flow, you will have to fight with all your might, exhausting yourself whilst only making inches of progress at a time, despite all the effort and energy expended. Never underestimate the power and might of your existing neural pathways and habit pattern; breaking them can be as difficult as overcoming substance abuse. The same psychological and emotional neural systems have to be broken and replaced with healthier alternatives. There is no magic wand, you're going to have to want your 1000% better more than an easy life in comfort zoneville.
To show you how narrow you have to focus, B. J. Fogg of Standford University proved that if you want to teach sixty year-olds to stop smoking by using a new app on their phone, it won't work. This is because you're asking them to adapt to two new behaviours, so pick just one new behavioural modification and habit to change at a time. By only seeking to change one habit i.e.: per month, you're able to dedicate all your energy and attention to establishing the new behaviour.
So now if you're thinking about which habit to change first, select the one that'll have the biggest impact on your life. It's not easy, but it is that simple - and I'm always here to help you to establish your new path, just give me a call: 01536 601749.