Instinctively, we know that we need to change in order to change, like duh 🙄, then why is it so hard to make these changes that we want so bad?
It’s simple, but it’s not necessarily easy, we have some obstacles ingrained in us that we must overcome first,
a few cards stacked against us:
First of all, evolution has us humans (or our brains at least) wanting us to stay safe. So even if our situation is not desirable, if it is relatively safe and comfortable (and predictable) then our brains will work very hard to stay there unless we make a conscious decisions to change.
Also, the more intelligent part of us may want to change, even know that we must change but our brains have an old, reptilian part that will seek pleasure or avoid pain no matter what. It’s urges are very strong. This makes it hard to avoid following through on urges or having the discipline needed to do the uncomfortable.
An example of this would be if we know that we need to lose weight for health reasons but can’t stop eating foods that we know make us sick (like the delicious German chocolate cake I had for supper 😋). Or we know that we should exercise but staying in bed is too tempting. cake=pleasure, exercise=pain
Another reason change can be hard is that our brains try to use as little energy as possible as often as possible. You know the feeling of being exhausted after a full day of online training or meetings? That’s because our brains aren’t used to the 2D world of zoom and have to work extra hard to fill in the details that they would normally get in person, like subtle body language and spatial awareness. The contrast to this is when we take the same way to work everyday and after getting there, we can’t remembering the ride 😲Our brain knows the route so well, it goes on autopilot to save energy. It LOVES autopilot!!! Hence our tendency to be creatures of habit.
These are just a few of the obstacles we run into when trying to out our #newsyearsresolution2021 into action.
Now that we know this, what can we do to overcome it?
Here are 3 hacks that work to break the natural patterns of our monkey minds...
HACK #1: 5 SECOND RULE
This comes from Mel Robbins, motivational speaker and author (check out her Ted Talk https://youtu.be/Lp7E973zozc) and her concept is, should we find ourselves hesitating, we can countdown 5-4-3-2-1 in our heads and on 0, leap into action!
This will override our brains fight, flight, freeze reaction that is trying to keep us “safe”. An example of when we may want to override this natural reaction would be when we are in a staff meeting and have something valuable to add but that silly little voice in our heads says, “I might be wrong”, “what if my idea is stupid” or “insert variation here”. What happens to a lot people is, you guessed it, they stay silent from fear of looking bad in front of their peers and go about the rest of the day with regret for not speaking up. That doesn’t have to be you for 2021, just follow this technique, I’ve been using it for years, believe me, it works!!! Remember, it has to be a countdown because if you count up, you can keep going 😝 and may miss your opportunity.
HACK #2: CELEBRATE!!!
When our brains have labeled something that we should be doing as painful, or at the very least, unappealing, then we need to do a pattern interrupt to change that association. I use this the most when I’m trying to incorporate a new behaviour, like a new workout routine. If its something that I don’t normally enjoy, I make sure to celebrate the moment I finish, the bigger the deal, the bigger the celebration. What I’ve discovered from life coaching is that this doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, it’s like we’ve forgotten how to play as adults or we have a negative association with celebrating, somewhere it’s been labelled as bragging, silly or inappropriate. No matter what story our brains have picked up about celebrating, there is scientific proof that this physical act (yes that means you must have a celebratory move and you must make noise) gives feedback to the brain that what we just did is good and should be repeated. For more on this, check out the book “Tiny Habits” by professor B.J. Fogg, it is the best book I’ve ever read on habit change.
Hack #3: WAKE UP THE BRAIN
This one is the easiest and yet most awkward to do. If we want to stay out of “autopilot” (like when I find myself in the cupboard and not sure why) we need to do another pattern interrupt which is to simply do something different. In the case of the cupboard, when I recognize that I’m in habit mode and not really hungry, I spin around abruptly and go get a glass of water, if after 10 min I still want that snack, then I have an appropriate amount that I eat mindfully...ok...full disclosure, I’m still working on this, my chocolate addiction runs deep, but when I am successful, you can be damn sure, I celebrate 💃. Another example is to take a new route home from work, instead of daydreaming the entire familiar route. The idea here is that we must take new action to get new results, pretty simple!
These are just 3 hacks, there are many more and I'm looking for them as this is a little obsession. If you want to incorporate them and you want a new habit, research shows that if you do it for 60-100 days (21 is a great start but not quite long enough to master a new habit) and the new action will be on autopilot, hello you version 2.0 🙌
If this is the kind of content you enjoy, do me a favour, I would love to here from you ❤️
You were born to shine!