Motivation won’t make us exercise or eat better. Here’s what will.
We got it all wrong!
I got it all wrong!
I’m 33 and for the most part, so far, I’ve been trying to develop aspects of self and change myself, as it turns out, in all the wrong ways, against human psychology and the way we naturally form habits. No wonder every change took me forever, unless accidentally I would change something “the scientific way”, not being aware of it.
These days I’ve been trying to study for a couple of hours a day consistently to advance my coaching career and to get better at communicating my ideas to other people to drive actions and deliver results. I decided, I’m just gonna decide and study every evening after I finish all the work for the day — no specific time, no specific duration, no specific subjects to cover — I’m just gonna study. Do you know how well it worked till I found out about a better way? I might have succeeded with a proper studying session, without checking my phone and doing more work, or ditching it completely for a new Star Trek episode or a walk because I felt so exhausted mentally and often physically — I might have succeeded a couple of times in the last… 6 months?
To be fare, I did some studying here and there quite often but the quality, the results, the progress were nowhere near where they could have been with consistent, undistracted and uninterrupted, well-planned studying sessions.
And then I read this book, that’s been sitting on my to-read list for many months now, the book about creating consistent habits to create long-term change in our lives. Ironically, the book, that I needed to read to improve my habits wasn’t being read because of my poor building-habits skills. I couldn’t finish the book on habits because of my poor habits.
Catch 22 situation?
I’ve recently finished this book!
“TINY HABITS: the small changes that change everything” ~BJ Fogg, PhD
Here’s a gist of habit-building techniques from the book that I’m putting into practice quite successfully! For the first time in my life I can say with genuine confidence — “I can achieve any result I want!”
Any behavior we do consistently is a function of motivation we have (A combination of: our internal drive, how much we want it or think we need it, how much energy we feel we have to do it) and our ability to do that behavior (How easy it us for us to do that, mentally, physically, time and money, how much our current environment supports this new habit we want to start). Motivation is inconsistent and pretty much out of our control (We like to think the opposite is true) — we all are familiar with the concept of new year resolutions and how long motivation lasts for seemingly such important goals! Or have you ever attended a motivational event? (Coming from a Tony Robbins and personal development seminars junkie) Just to lose all the motivation along with some new fancy habits you probably tried in a month or two?
Our ability, the easiness to do our new habit — that’s what we can and should work on more.
We can get some tools — like reading this “Tiny Habits” book to learn to get better at building habits easier to finally start studying consistently. We can get some help — like having a coach to explain to me, why what I do isn’t working and how I need to approach the process to change the current situation about my studying. We can scale down the habit itself, making it “tiny” and easy to build consistency first and make it less overwhelming to start — we can start with 10 minutes of studying instead of trying to read half a book and do countless exercises to practice “perfection”. We can increase the chances of consistency and stickiness of our new habit via design of triggers that will prompt us, remind us to do the habits — like creating an action “recipe”, “After I wash dishes after my dinner, I will read a coaching article for 10 minutes”.
This is the process. A better process of building habits.
Once we figure out what it is we want to do, our new habit, we got to stop worrying about pumping up our motivation and instead focus on precise actions done consistently. We got to make it easy to start and stick with, we got to design prompts, triggers, reminders in our environment to make our new habits obvious, visible, “unforgettable”. In other words, we got to stop screaming at the fire to shine brighter and instead figure out an easy way to supply some wood consistently.
Make actions, new habits easy and don’t worry about motivation. That was my first AHA.
Before we get to actions there are a couple of puzzle pieces we need to figure out.
What are our aspirations?
What are our goals?
What are we trying to change and why?
What are we not satisfied with in our lives?
What results, different results and outcomes do we want?
I believe this is the most difficult piece, that requires some digging — nobody can tell you what to do with your life, what’s working or not — only you can do this part.
Once we know what it is we want to change — I want to get better at delivering results to my clients. I want to get world-class good! Helping people to change their behavior around food and lifestyle to serve their other goals in life, to feel and look amazing, to feel like you are awesome and you have everything in the world to reach any of your goals — I want my clients to have this kind of confidence and energy, health and fitness to support that confidence.
Once we know what we want to change and how we’ll know when we get there, or when we make progress — now it’s time to choose our habits and precise actions to start moving towards our aspirations and goals.
How do we do that?
There are hundreds of ways but we can only do a couple of things at a time.
How do we choose what to do?
We brainstorm all the actions that in our opinion will get us to our results in the most effective way (That’s where having a coach by our side, anyone with more experience and knowledge helps — to filter out the most effective methods and tools). Now it’s not the time for a lot of thinking but for the brain dump instead — everything you can think of, write it down, type it out of your system.
I can start a new course of study at a chosen educational institution and follow their program (Which I did), I can pick up some books and choose to read certain amount of chapters or pages, do X amount of practical assignments, I can get a coach for coaches and let him/her decide what I’m gonna do.
Let’s look at all the actions/habits we brainstormed, or brain-dumped, and let’s choose the most effective ones, maybe 5 or 10, or so. (You can put a star next to these actions, as the author of Tiny Habits suggests).
I chose to sign up for a course. I also chose to read through chapters of a book I picked up, doing the assignments when they come, devoting suggested amount of time to them.
Now let’s look at all the actions/habits that we brain-dumped (I start to like this word better than brainstorming) and let’s choose the easiest ones. The ones that we are most likely to do, knowing ourselves, our lives — VS some imaginary selves and lives that we’d like to be and have. On a certainty scale of 1 to 10 which are the behaviors you feel you can do for sure? (Let’s circle those behaviors)
I know that I work well, when I have very specific action steps and a program to follow, when I understand where it’s all going, or when I trust my coach to know that for me. I also know I love reading and putting what I learn into practice as long as it doesn’t overwhelm me and I know EXACTLY what to do and when to do it, especially when I have someone I’m accountable to. (Aren’t we all “work” kind of similar? We do really well when we eliminate the distractions and overwhelm, when we have a clear path and well-defined action steps, when someone is helping us, guiding us along the way?)
Let’s choose behaviors/habits, that are effective and we are most likely to do them, because for some reason it’s easy for us. Maybe our environment and personality are aligned with it, this new habit? Or we can make it align easier compared to other habits? (If you used stars and circles, these behaviors would have stars AND circles. The author calls them Golden Behaviors.)
Let’s choose a couple or just one and work on making it easy, scaling it down to start, getting tools and help, creating triggers/prompts/reminders.
Make it as easy as possible (scale it down, 10-minute studying sessions instead of 2 hours), make it clear and precise (how long you gonna study for, what books, courses you’ll be going through, how fast or slow), and create a trigger so you don’t forget and are able to do the habit, even on the busiest and the most chaotic day of your life!
I’ll always have dinner and I’ll always have 10 minutes after to study. (Even when I don’t wash my dishes, having my dinner out, I could go to the bathroom and do a 10-minute study session with my phone).
On some days I’ll do more (that what usually happens when we get the consistency down), and on some days I’ll just have 10 minutes. But I’ll make progress every day and that’s how I’m gonna grow into a world-class coach.
Think about your aspirations.
How do you want to change? How do you want your life to be different? What do you need to work on, what skills and habits, to make this change happen? Are you using the best science to change? Or hoping again that tomorrow you’ll finally wake up that different person who’s suddenly able to do everything?
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🙂THANK YOU FOR READING!
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