Yesterday in my blog post ‘People know what to do’, we navel gazed briefly at the catalyst required for people to turn failure into success. And then I buggered off to finish watching the ‘podcast‘ I was talking about. The video is free (after registration) for the next couple of days but will then probably disappear into the ether. So, I thought it might be a good idea to transpose the notes I made from it into this blog in the hope that…
A) They may be a tad more resilient
B) It will reveal the secret factor we still can’t quite put our finger on.
The message that came through most strongly is one we preach at Run to Live a lot. ie Consistency is key. Humans, it appears, are not hard wired to plan a long time ahead (although you may have noticed I do have a prediliction for planning it has to be said 😉 and will generally try to railroad long term plans with short term diversion tactics. But, changing a habit or some other trait on the route to health is a long term plan. Which is a bit of a bugger really.
The biggest culprit for railroading is the internal voice we all have, which is nearly always negative. Professor Steve Peters via ‘The chimp paradox’ hit on this need to quiet the voice (or at least harness a more positive version of it). It’s a great read and may help if you’ve not already seen it.
So the answer is, (ahem drumroll) small lifestyle changes – one at a time but mostly sleep more, exercise more and eat healthily – consistency and allow forgiveness for the occasional mishaps that will happen.
Fundamentally, Rule 10 (AKA Just Fucking Do It) applies.
So, what did the seminar say in depth…
The biggest barrier to success is confusion. We all know what a healthy diet is? Right? Well, science will pretty much back up any ‘diet’ you pick. High sugar low fat, high fat low sugar, low calorie, fasting 5:2. There is too much conflicting information out there, so naturally people get confused about what ‘healthy’ really means.
Personally, I subscribe to the natural, clean eating, paleo way, call it what you will. But what works for me, doesn’t work for everyone. And that was the very clear message, find out what works for you but only change one thing at a time and give it TIME. No-one can identify a solution in just seven days (despite what the mags promise).
Often the sabotage (via the inner voice mentioned above) is a self limiting belief based on past experience. Self sabotage (you failed last time, you can’t do it, it never works for me) is then often followed by judgement (you’re hopeless, you always fail).
I remember a few years ago thinking I was rubbish at having an eating disorder because I was bulimic and didn’t have the discipline for ‘proper’ anorexia. I mean, really! But do you know what – I’m not the only one!
People need to stop handing power over to so called ‘experts’ and take responsibility for themselves. But this is often difficult. It’s much easier to be a victim and blame something else for the apparent failure.
So, the million dollar question, how do people work out what works for them…
- Get honest! Really honest, without blame or excuses and be prepared to be wrong about your assumptions.
- Identify what actions you need to carry out to change, write them down, keep the emotion out of it (as above).
- Allow time to make mistakes – they will happen – but don’t view a mistake as an absolute failure, draw a line under it and move on.
- Pick one thing to work on at one time. This is why new years resolutions never work. You can’t work on diet, fitness, health, finance all at the same time.
- Be 100% responsible for your actions
- Habits are the brain’s way or normalising actions. It hates change. Which means when you are trying to change a habit, essentially you will need to ‘wait your brain out’. This is why you need to give each change time. And keep trying. Consistency is key.
Here are some strategies that work well…
- Small steps.
- Shut down the voice/chimp/ whatever you call it. Or at least turn it positive. Sometimes when it’s chattering away just shouting ‘Stop’ or visualising a ‘stop sign’ is all you need. Humans respond to the word, stop. We’re hard wired to take action when we see or hear it. Practical work helps in this regards too. If you are prone to self sabotage try knitting, crocheting, baking, gardening, reading or whatever works for you. After initiating the ‘Stop’ procedure, find your brain something proactive to think about.
- All or nothing protocols do not work. Since we’re hard wired for short term thinking and to seek pleasure over pain. Avoid setting yourself all or nothing goals. Flexible thinking works.
- Consistency is key.
- Remember that we make our own luck. Targetted effort is always rewarded. #Rule 10
- Time is the most valuable commodity in the world. You need to give yourself time. Live in the moment and particularly don’t use your negative past as an excuse for your behaviour now. In essence, the past and the future do not exist. You can learn from the past and you can plan for the future, but the only reality that counts is what is happening right this moment. And you have complete control over that. You are free to choose your path. Really.
The seminar really gave me a lot to think about and actually, writing it down here really helped. So, sadly no magic wand but happily a realisation that the power to change really is in our hands.
Get your pen out. Try the above and let me know how you get on…