In Part 2 of this series, we did an exercise to look at our daily algorithms and habits in general. I then asked you to take a deeper look at those which were the most empowering. In part 3, I want to introduce a strategy to help you solidify those habits you have already established as beneficial, as well as, install some new habits to help you in your journey.
There are 10 ideas in this process.
- 1 – Know Your Who
- 2 – Know Your Why
- 3 – Know Your How
- 4 – Decide
- 5 – Go Small. Then Go Smaller
- 6 – Reduce The Variability Of Behavior.
- 7 – Do It Daily. Don’t Miss A Day. DEFINITELY Don’t Miss Two Days.
- 8 – Just Do It
- 9 – Celebrations & Consequences
- 10 – Staying Flexible.
Know Your Who
This idea comes from James Clear and his book, “Atomic Habits”. James suggest that when creating new habits that it is a better strategy to focus on identity versus outcome. In other words, if you can create an identity for yourself, you are more likely to act in accordance with that vision of yourself. If you identify yourself as an athlete, you are more likely to train on a consistent basis, eat healthy, and get plenty of rest. If you want to do those things but just consider yourself an average and common non athlete, you are less likely to be committed because the common person doesn’t value or relate to your lifestyle. I recommend identifying as uncommon because you are.
Know your “Why”
We keep coming back to this concept over and over. I fear that it has become cliche but I truly believe it is one of the most powerful driving forces in our lives. I recently had someone jokingly say to me during a hard training session, “Remind me why I am doing this.” It is a fair question to ask and I think it is important to revisit that question consistently. The stronger connection you can make to your why or as Brian Johnson calls it your “soul goal” the more fuel you will have to drive you towards your goal and finding your how.
Know your How
Brian Johnson recommends thinking of yourself as three types of people when coming up with a how.
Athlete– the athlete gets better and establishes habits through practice. The very “best” practice not until they get it right but until they can’t get it wrong.
Scientist– a scientist looks at data. A good scientist doesn’t have a bias towards the data nor do they judge it as good or bad. They simply use the data to learn.
Movie Maker– Rarely if ever is a movie made with out mis-takes. Very seldom is the first take the best take. Mistakes are inevitable and an integral part of making a great movie.
When we are establishing new habits we are going to mess it up. We just need to keep trying. No need to beat ourselves up, just examine the data to see what caused us to mess up and try to learn and do better.
Decide comes from the two latin words, which means to cut off. Literally, decide means that you are cutting off all other possibilities. This could also be considered being “All In”. We are sometimes too wishy washy when it comes to establishing a habit. Sometimes we need to have bright lines as in a contract. For instance, if we have an addiction we can’t say we are going to engage in that addiction only sometimes.
Think small and think smaller
Not to sound contradictory to the previous idea of deciding but sometimes to establish a habit we need to start really small. If we are attempting to establish a habit of meditating, it may be difficult to begin with 30 minutes a day. However, committing to just one minute a day is very doable for anybody. As you establish the habit you can think step by step add a little time. This is the basic philosophy of our Pro Coach nutrition program. It starts very slow and unfortunately for some they don’t understand the value of this and they get bored and quit the program early on. As the saying goes,”Inch by inch life is a cinch, yard by yard life is hard.”
Reduce the variability of behavior.
It can be very helpful when establishing a habit to try and do it at the same time everyday. I would say that I have observed this with clients over the years in regards to their training consistency. Clients who train at the same time each day overall are the most consistent. For group training in both fitness and Jiujitsu we have many opportunities to train. This sometimes can be a disadvantage if you vary your training times because you don’t establish a consistent time. It is sometimes easy to hit the snooze in the morning and tell yourself that you will go to a later class. Unfortunately, once the day gets started things get in the way and you never make to train.
Do It Daily
There are some differing opinions on how long it takes to establish something as a new habit. One thought is that you need to do something for 21 consecutive days for it to become a habit. Regardless of the number of days, there is a concensus on the fact that to establish a habit it needs to be done consistently. If the habit is something that is not conducive to be done everyday, then I would suggest getting into a routine where you can do it on the same days and preferably the same time each week. Again I use the gym as an example of this process. I would say that overall the students who come nearly everyday at the same times are the ones that tend to stick to the training. I am definitely a creature of habit when it comes to this. For instance, the recommended training for Crossfit, in the beginning, was to train for 3 days and rest for 1. I hate this format because it means your training and rest days change each week.
Just Do It
This is another big one when establishing a new habit. You need to realize you are not always going to “feel” like it. Sometimes people mistakingly think that training is easy for me because I enjoy it. It is true that I enjoy hard physical training but it is really more about how I feel afterwards and the fact that if I want to be true to my energy identity of a warrior athlete that it is the behavior that I must engage in. There are plenty of times when I don’t feel like it. I can also promise you that I rarely if ever think of training as fun. There is nothing wrong with having fun with training. I’m just saying that it is not why I do it.
Celebrations and Consequences
When you are establishing a new habit make sure you give yourself a pat on the back and acknowledge you are doing something good for yourself. ‘I think it is important to celebrate the wins. This is one that needs work for me. I have a tendency to focus on what went wrong versus what went well. On the other side, we do sometimes need to hold ourselves more accountable and one way of doing that is to establish consequences to not sticking to what we say we are going to do. To this day, the most powerful example of this was our 20X adventure with Navy SEALS Criss Smith and Brad McLeod. It was amazing to see how “no handed burpees” as a consequence of putting your hands on your hips helped break an old habit that has stuck for over 6 years now.
With all of this it is important to remember that this is all a process. It is more of a journey than a specific destination. Just remember not to be so rigid that you can’t enjoy the process. Inevitably we will screw up. When you do just get back up and try again. Remember stopping is not quitting and everybody loves a good comeback story.