Aside from inherent physical characteristics...
All you are is a physical manifestation of your past choices.
Every 7 years, every type of cell in your body has died and fully regenerated. On a cellular level, you are a completely new person every 7 years.
So what makes you, YOU?
You're essentially a sack of organs, held together by physical matter directed by your consciousness.
YOU are the pilot, and YOU have choices
All a habit is, is a choice that you’ve gotten used to.
- Running late
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being a picky eater
- Being shy
- Being outspoken
- Not being good with names
These aren’t inert characteristics, these are CHOICES.
Maybe choices based on a natural tendency – but, whether consciously or unconsciously, there were choices you made that led you to become the person you are today.
Perhaps they didn’t feel like choices, because they were rituals passed on by family from a very young age. A certain way of viewing the world, viewing yourself, viewing what is possible – that feel factual, but are just the lens you see the world from.
Sometimes we forget that we have the ability to change pretty much anything in our lives... that living your best life is just one paradigm shift away.
"We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
So if all we are is a physical manifestation of our past choices, how can we change anything? How can you be the best version of you in the present, if all that we are is based on the past?
Change your PRESENT,
so you can create a new PAST
If you want to establish lasting change, the key is to create a new past for yourself. We are creatures of habit, of repetition, of comfort – it’s natural to want to keep doing what we are doing, even if it’s not creating the best results for us.
Disrupting that pattern can be difficult, but you need to make a change NOW in order to build a new past, build a new momentum, and create a new path forwards for yourself.
Now, the question is – HOW do we make ourselves better? How to create new habits, if we feel stuck in our ways?
Recognize the actions/habits that aren’t serving you, and…
Break the Cycle!
I’ll give you a personal example.
You know those frosted sugar cookies they sell at the grocery store? Those soft, fluffy cookies with frosting on top? Those are my all-time favorite cookies.
If I get my hands on a package of those: game over, it’s done.
Occasionally at the grocery store, I find myself in the bakery aisle, and I pick up the box of those cookies.
As I’m holding them in my hands, every single time I can’t help but......
PUT THEM DOWN!
WHY buy a box of something that isn’t good for me, when I KNOW how it’s going to end if I do?
It's much easier to say "no" at the grocery store, than it is when they are taunting you on your kitchen counter.
It’s human nature to want to follow the path of least resistance. We want to flow through life like water flowing down a mountain; smooth, easy, and using natural momentum to propel us forward.
This is why it can be so hard to create a new habit. We’re having to push against our own comfort zone, sometimes attempting to push ourselves uphill in order to carve out a new path.
This is what keeps us on the couch, keeps us reaching for “convenience” foods, and keeps us from becoming the best version of ourselves.
Bad habits are like seeds, don’t allow them to take root.
If you want to eliminate struggle from reaching your goals, try this small shift:
Take Actions that make the Right Thing the Easy Choice
If you can shift your brain into believing the right action is ALSO the easy choice, it will make doing the right thing be SO much easier.
Eliminate struggle: make the path of least resistance the optimal one.
- Not drinking enough water? Carry around a 1-liter water bottle.
Would you be more likely to drink more water, if you always had this with you?
- Like grab-&-go food but want to eat better? Spend some time on the weekend chopping up snacking vegetables, and putting them at the forefront of your fridge.
If they’re washed, cut up, ready to go… are you more likely to eat them?
- Feel like melting into the couch as soon as you get home? Bring your gym clothes to work and drive STRAIGHT to the gym afterwards.
Even if you just sit in the gym's parking lot and decide to go home, trust me – if you do this long enough, eventually you will decide to go inside… eventually, going inside will feel like the easy choice.
Making small shifts like the above are some of the most powerful ways to achieve your most ambitious goals.
I’ve talked about this idea of Tiny Habits before…Lasting change isn’t made in giant, 180-degree sweeping transitions. Real change is created from a series of tiny, 1-degree shifts. Slowly, you will change your trajectory and remold your habits into those that align with the best version of yourself.
From blog post: "RIP New Year Resolutions"
If you want to change your trajectory, it needs to start somewhere. If you often lose momentum, lose focus, lose steam... reverting back to your "old ways"...
It’s because you are defaulting to your path of least resistance.
This is normal, this is natural.
It feels comfortable, to some degree it feels "right".
Following this path is what got you to where you are today.
But if you want to progress forward, if you want to transform into the best version of yourself...
If you take actions that enable the right thing to be the easy choice, you can break the cycle and create a NEW path of least resistance for yourself.
Beliefs Create BehaviorsI’ve covered my own eyes, and wondered why I couldn’t see.
Enveloped by the darkness that I allowed to be.
I wrote this when I was feeling especially stuck in a negative mindset, feeling like there was no way to improve my situation. I felt powerless, until I had this epiphany.
I was driving home on a cloudy day, with my sun visor still down over my windshield from yesterday. I thought to myself, what a perfect analogy. Put up a blinder for yourself, for a good reason at first: protect your eyes from the blinding sun. But, later on forgetting it’s there and blocking a whole section of potential from view.
When I noticed this and put my visor up, I realized what a beautiful sunset it was - coloring the clouds I had once considered gloomy.
My question to you: What thoughts or habits do you have that act like blinders, covering you from seeing your true potential?
Don’t exist with constant blinders up just because the light was once too powerful for your eyes. Is sunlight blinding, or is it enlightening? Maybe you needed to block the light at one point – maybe it was too intense.
But we live in an ever-changing world…
Recognize the habits or actions that are holding you back, and break the cycle - lift the visor.
Don’t allow yourself to be enveloped by darkness! Have you fallen into a pattern of behaviors that aren’t getting you the results you want, but feel like they are the way life HAS to be?
Smoking is a great example of this. Smokers continue this habit because it brings them a feeling of calm, reduced stress, reduced anxiety. But the only reason that cigarettes provide those feelings is the person’s addiction to nicotine.
So they get stuck in the self-imposed cycle: smoke a cigarette to “calm down”, get irritable because their nicotine levels are low, smoke a cigarette to “calm down”. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The smoker may believe they NEED the cigarettes to feel better… and not be able to recognize the action of smoking is the cause of the problem and the solution all in one.
It’s similar to how Head & Shoulders shampoo actually CAUSES dandruff. Or how your lips can become addicted to chapstick, and will get dry when it’s not regularly applied.
Ever hear one of those drug commercials where the medicine's side effects sound worse than the problem they're claiming to cure?
Sometimes our attempt to solve or cope with a problem creates unintended consequences, that gets us stuck in these self-imposed cycles. We feel we “need” chapstick, because our lips are dry… we “need” these habits, in order for our life to make sense…
But please, take some time today to analyze the habits you have fallen into so deeply, that they feel innate.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
This week, analyze your actions. Ask yourself these 3 simple questions:
- “Is this action serving me? Is it helping me become a better version of myself?”
- “Do I have the ability to make another choice?”
- “How can THAT choice feel easier to make?”
If you examine your habits in this way, almost like a doctor diagnosing a patient - soon enough you will be taking actions that make right thing the easy choice.
Beliefs create behaviors.
Small changes lead to big shifts.
Change your habits, change your life.
Sending you love, sending you light.
This post was written on February 10, 2020.
See below for more about the author & owner of Rose Consulting Services.