Teeth, tryathlons and life changing
One of the biggest myths peddled by certain self appointed success guru’s, is that it takes 21 days to form any habit.
This enables them to sell magical “Change your Life in 21 Days” programs.
How long it takes to form a habit depends on the individual, the habit being formed , environmental factors, etc. But “How to Create a Life Changing Habit in 254 Days” doesn’t make for such a great book title does it?
Research by an army of behavioral psychologist’s shows that creating long lasting, life enhancing, behavioral change, typically takes several months.
If you’ve ever worn braces on your teeth, the dentist will have told you that anatomically speaking, teeth have memory, and if you don’t wear a retainer the teeth they will go back to their original position.
The same is true of habits.
If you don’t maintain a habit for a prolonged period, typically several months, then you’ll go back to your old behavior.
The good news from the research is that creating a new habit isn’t rocket science; it’s a tryathlon of persistent, regular and deliberate practice. In time, the habit will become an unconscious behaviour.
Here are some proven techniques to form great habits which last:
1. One Change at a Time. Carry out one new habit for at least a month before considering a second. Only add another change if you were successful at the first.
2. Start Small. Do one minute of exercise, one minute of piano practice, one minute of reading. You may be surprised how quickly one minute becomes two minutes, then five minutes, then ten minutes……
3. Do it at the same time each day. Research shows that a regular time after a certain point in your daily routine significantly enhances your chances of maintaining the habit for a prolonged period. This could be after you’ve finished your first cup of coffee in the morning, after you arrive at work, after you get home, after you brush your teeth etc.
4. Be accountable to at least one person. Make sure it’s someone whose opinion and feedback you value, and make sure that you check in with the person(s) on a regular basis. For example, I made a commitment to my wife to stop eating sugar for 3 months.
5. Have consequences. I’ve made a promise to eat a whole stick of celery if I fail – the mere sight of celery makes me nauseous so I won’t fail.
6. Have a reward. For instance, to exercise more, choose a cue like putting your running shoes next to your bed. And then, give yourself a reward – like a piece of chocolate – when you get home from jogging. That way, the cue and the reward become neurologically intertwined. Eventually, when your brain sees the running shoes, it starts craving the chocolate and that makes it easier to hit the pavement.
Six fairly simple steps and you’ve got a new life enhancing habit.
What daily change can you make today?
A year from now you’ll be glad that you started today.
A blonde walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the Loans Officer. She says she’s going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000.
The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so the blonde hands over the keys to a new Rolls Royce. The car is parked on the street in front of the bank, she has the title and everything checks out. The bank agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan.
The bank’s president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the blonde for using a $250,000 Rolls as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then proceeds to drive the Rolls into the bank’s underground garage and parks it there.
Two weeks later, the blonde returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, “Miss, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us is why would you bother to borrow $5,000?”
The blonde replies, “Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?”
….. now you know a smart blonde joke.
As well as being a recognised authority on personal branding and peak performance, Sunil is a critically acclaimed author and blogger. His corporate experience includes roles as Head of Talent on behalf of Vodafone Group, Santander (UK) and Cable & Wireless Europe. Sunil has also run a multi-million pound recruitment business, and is a Non Executive Director. Sunil’s first degree in Sports Science and Psychology fuelled his passion for the psychology of human achievement and well-being. As well as possessing an MBA, he is a qualified Psychotherapist and Executive Coach. www.sunilbali.com
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