In the next 21 days, make a comittment to this habit change challenge.
Every year my friend Jimmy sends me this poem.
Who Am I?
I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do might just as well be turned over
to me and I will be able to do them quickly and
I am easily managed— you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done and after a
few lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people and, alas, of all
failures, as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision
of a machine plus the intelligence of a person. You may
run me for profit or run me for ruin— it makes no
difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the
world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy
Who am I?
I am HABIT!
You likely have some good habits (rising early, reading books, focusing on your number one priority first thing in the morning), but you also have some bad habits (such as biting your nails, drinking too much, or other vices robbing you of your best self).
If you want to fix your bad habits or add new good ones, today is a great day to start. Every Monday, and every first day of the month, gives you the momentum and motivation you need to change.
That’s why I want you to begin a 21-Day Habit Change Challenge today. You could pick one of the following to do for the next three weeks…
- No television.
- No alcohol.
- No mindless surfing on the Internet.
- Limiting your Facebook time to one session of 20 minutes per day.
- Not checking email before 9 a.m.
- Going to bed before midnight.
- Eating an apple a day.
- Saying goodbye to grains.
- Meditating for 3 minutes.
- Using my bodyweight exercise videos for 4 minutes in the morning.
- Contacting one new person every day.
- Making one additional sales call each morning.
- Committing to giving a big public presentation in just 3 weeks.
- No cursing.
- Reading for 20 minutes.
- Writing 1000 words every morning.
There are so many small habits you could change that would make a BIG impact on your life. But choose just ONE. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Stay focused.
To accomplish any habit change, you need a plan. But here’s the trick. While most plans focus on what TO do, they often neglect what NOT to do. And that’s a big problem. After all, smart people, like you, already know that you should eat right and exercise regularly. It’s not like you suffer from a lack of knowledge or know-how. What you struggle with, especially when times get tough, are temptations.
Here’s the secret to planning. Begin with the negatives and systematically eliminate them from your path to success.
Identify every obstacle in your way and develop two solutions for each. Having a Plan A and a Plan B for your troubles is the best way to stay on track.
You can drop bad behaviors when you make them harder to do and when you make good habits easier to begin.
For example, if you drink too much wine at night or eat too much chocolate, it’s likely because these temptations are easily available. If that bottle of red isn’t on the kitchen counter, you probably won’t pour yourself a glass … or two… as you cook dinner. If the bar of chocolate is not sitting on the edge of your desk, you won’t eat when you’re bored.
Researcher Brian Wansink and his team at Cornell University have outlined how to make bad habits, particularly “mindless eating”, much harder.
His research found that if we place a bowl of candy on our desk that we eat more of it. DUH! Moving it off the table leads to eating less. Putting it an opaque container, so we aren’t reminded of what it’s inside of it, limits our snacking even more. Now take that container, climb on a stool, and hide it in the top cupboard in your kitchen, behind the old cans of Cream of Asparagus soup you’ll never eat, and you’ll slash your snacking even further. Or best of all, keep the darn candy out of your house, because if it’s not in your house, you can’t grab it during the next commercial break of Dancing With the Stars.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you want to stop the bad habit of hitting the snooze button in the morning so that you can begin the good habit of daily exercise. First, eliminate the temptation and you move your alarm clock across the room. Now you’ve blocked the bad habit and made it harder to hit the snooze button and fall back asleep.
But how do you make good habits easier? You need to, as Chip and Dan Heath taught in their book Switch, make the path smooth. What are the obstacles in your way of a morning exercise routine? These may include, but are not limited to:
- Struggling to get out of bed in the morning
- Wanting to do something else after you wake-up
- Not knowing what to do
Let’s destroy each of these distractions.
- First, you need to put in place a plan to get out of bed on time (watch my video here). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVOzht2jVqc
- Second, if you are tempted to do something else, like make a coffee and read the paper, or sizzle up some bacon, or snuggle with your partner under the covers, the solution is sleep in your (clean!) exercise clothes, or set them out beside your bed so that you wake-up and put them on immediately. Once they are on, you’re almost there.
- Third, you need to know exactly what to do once you’re dressed for success. Have your exercise videos ready on your computer and have your computer sitting beside your bed. Now, dressed in your exercise clothes, take your computer (or phone or iPad) and head to your exercise room (or spare bedroom) so that you can start your good habit right away.
(If you want to use this system to put in place a habit of daily meditation, re-read this article and learn the steps I take every single morning to smooth the path. (I’ve never missed a session in nearly four years; that’s a streak of almost 1,500 days!)
Change in any area of life is possible when you put the right routines in place and support them with the encouragement of positive people and the power of accountability. At TransformationContest.com, we’ve helped hundreds of people finally lose 10, 20, 30 pounds or more with this approach, and our new Habit Change Club is doing the same.
“I started the Habit Change Club in mid-September,” Dena Jenkins says. “At first, I had a hard time sticking to the change, but my goal was to be accountable and to add discipline to my life. As of this morning (8 weeks later), I hit that goal and weigh just under 300 pounds. I have not been under 300lbs for a couple years. I am so excited!”
It doesn’t matter what you want to fix. If you struggle with too much online shopping, night eating, swearing, or gossiping too often at work, you can change that bad habit.
“What bad habit have you put right today?” Quintus Sextius, a Roman philosopher asked. “What fault did you take a stand against? In what respect are you better?”
If you can answer that you have made progress every day, that you are one day closer to turning a bad habit into a good one, then you, my friend, are on the road to your Perfect Life.