Are you overwhelmed? Do you have BIG plans for personal improvement? Does every evening bring disappointment because you didn’t achieve all you wanted? Perhaps you are tired of striving and failing…hearing a harsh negative voice in your head put you down.
Here’s the good news. When you change (or build) one habit, that one action has a cumulative effect so taking on one shift, one change, or one new thing, makes a much wider impact than you plan.
Example: You decide to stretch every morning before work. You set an alarm on your phone for 7:10 and for the next 15 minutes, you proceed to do a series of stretching exercises. One new thing – and a fairly easy one with the support of your technology and an announcement to a few friends. Stay with me here….
Fast forward to the office. You’re reaching for a folder on a high shelf, and suddenly find yourself smiling. You remember that you diligently (and without much effort) remembered to stretched earlier that morning. A wave of good feeling (with the accompanying hormones) washes through you. You decide to have a nourishing salad for lunch rather than the calorie loaded office pizza.
Feeling proud of yourself for choosing a healthy lunch (why undermine those morning stretches?) you find ten minutes to step outside and walk briskly before heading into a barrage of meetings.
When you do enter the conference room, you’re feeling alive, awake and even a teeny bit enthusiastic – great energy to take into your meeting.
While walking and eating a healthy lunch weren’t commitments you jotted down on your TO DO list, the one daily deed you chose, stretching, led to a larger result – a cumulative, positive effect.
The “feel-good” hormones you produced were the gift that kept on giving…so you kept the momentum going without the requisite big push.
Rather than floundering in a river of changes, with lots of potential for failing and berating yourself (which you know leads to failure, not success) chose ONE daily deed. Write it down. Tell a few friends what you are up to. Find support for it – technological or human or both.
Then do it! That one daily deed.
Notice for a period of two weeks, what other positive actions you take. Jot those down.
Keeping that list and adding to it, builds momentum – both for the deed you’ve committed to and for generally increasing the benefit of a positive shift. Its a reward – tangible. This is important in building a habit.
Charles Duhigg in his bestselling book “The Power of Habit” teaches that habit relies on 3 parts: a cue, a routine and a reward. And this science of habit applies to you individually and to your organization.
The support you set up for your daily deed should include a cue (in my example, the alarm) like, an item on your To Do list. When you see the item, your cue, you don’t have to make a decision, you simply have to act.
Then you complete the action – the routine. In the case I use, stretching.
Finally, comes the reward. This can be physical – hormones saturating your system or acclaim- your tell your friends or a gift you buy yourself or anything you perceive as rewarding. You feel good about yourself now, and that sense of “goodness” carries over into other parts of your day.
Rather than going into despair that sounds like, “I’m not good enough” you can echo the message, “I completed my stretching today, “ which elevates your mood and moves you down the road to creating a new habit – one you’ve chosen.
So, begin with one daily deed – create a cue, complete the routine and reward yourself. That’s how you begin building the life you want.
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