One of my favorite things to do is pound coffee and read books on behavior change. Yeah, my life isn’t nearly as cool as I show on Instagram. Most of the work I do with my clients (both in the gym and online) has little to do with knowing the right things to do. The challenge is actually doing those things.
That’s where behavioral change strategy comes into play. Information does not necessarily lead to transformation.
We know lean protein and vegetables are a better bet than large buckets of popcorn when it comes to six packs and GI function. We know investing our money is probably a better strategy than going ham at the club, poppin’ bottles, and making it rain when it comes to our finances.
This isn’t mind-blowing stuff. Actually, the simple stuff works quite well.
If we stop ballin’ out on the credit card and invest a small amount in a Roth IRA or Index Fund on a monthly basis, we’d start to get our money game right (this is my biggest knowing vs. doing gap – I am quick to ball out with the credit card #YOLO).
If we did something daily to show love to our people, and started listening more and talking less, our relationships would improve.
If we workout with some heavy weights, add in some lean protein and vegetables, and ditch the Cheetos we could start seeing that deeply buried six-pack.
We see a bunch of clients at Metabolic Effect that begin to lose weight, and feel great (meaning they’ve found they’re individual fat loss formula), but then email in talking about some new diet, or backwards handstand push up they saw on the internet that they want to do instead. It’s the strangest thing.
This shows that it is not about the knowing. It’s about the doing. Knowing is easy. Just Google that shit.
The hard part is managing our willpower battery. It’s getting rid of old habits that causes us to plop down in front of the TV with a nice, cold beer(s).
So for Day 2 of my blog blitz I want to give you 8 tools that can help you take those simple things we know how to do, and you know, actually do them.
1) Choose One Thing: Trying to change too many things at once is a recipe for failure. Choose ONE habit to change, and work exclusively on that for at least the next 90 days.
2) Set Process, Not Outcome Goals: Rather than setting a goal to “lose 30 pounds” (outcome goal), think about actions you can do daily that will lead to losing fat in general. For example:
-Walk for an hour per day
-Replace morning pancake sandwich with 2 eggs
-Eat two large handfuls of greens per day
-Go to DannyColeman.net and read blog posts daily (Do it.)
Art Markman a Professor of Psychology at The University of Texas and fellow behavior change nerd says, “It’s crucial to make daily progress on long term goals.” This is where process goals come into play. Focus on daily actions that lead to the result you want.
On top of that, when we set goals like “lose 30 pounds,” we take all the right steps (or maybe even some extreme steps) to lose the weight, but once we “reach our goal” we stop doing all of the things that got us there in the first place. By focusing on process goals, we create new habits that make us better forever, not just over the course of a month or two.
3) Plan Your Defense: When you set out to change anything there will be obstacles.
Take out a sheet of paper and brainstorm obstacles that you are likely to face, and then write out how you plan to deal with those obstacles.
By planning our defense for these inevitable obstacles coming our way, we are more likely to get past them. How are you going to handle Bob when he hits you up to pound beers? What will you do when your girl brings home white cheddar popcorn? How will you handle your Chipotle cravings?
4) Choose DO Goals Over STOP Goals: Choose new habits to DO rather than old habits to STOP doing. Don’t STOP eating popcorn (never that), START eating vegetables. Don’t STOP watching TV, START replacing TV with books or hanging with friends. Our brains are wired to make moves, and when you try to “stop” too much, you’ll eventually run out of willpower and cave into the thing you were trying to avoid in the first place.
5) Change Your Environment: I talk about environment all of the time. Old habits are easily shaken up when we change our environment. Are the people around you helping or hurting your habit progress (your social circle is HUGE)?
How easy is it to fall back into your old habits? Can you make it easier to perform new habits and harder to perform old ones? Take the batteries out of the remote. Give all the junk food away. Take an alternative route to work (because you know that every time you pass that gas station you’re going to go in and get Bugles. Or is that just me? I love those salty cones..).
6) Create Distance: My boy Art also talks about creating distance between you and bad habits. By creating distance, we are better able to avoid Cheetos and bad relationships. There are three forms of distance we can take. Check it:
–Physical Distance: Literally, get some physical space between you and those Cheetos. Just throw that shit out.
–Social Distance: Ask yourself, how would you coach a friend in your same situation? Or how would somebody you admire handle the situation you’re in?
–Time Distance: How would your future self feel about you pounding that bag of Cheetos right now? How would yourself 2 years from now like the fact that you continue to get back into that toxic relationship?
7) Same Place, Same Time: Have a schedule, and stick to it. When do you practice your new habit? Where are you when you practice it? Schedule this time like you would an important meeting.
8) Your belief about your willpower actually has an effect on your willpower. The stories we tell ourselves about how badass we are, how strong or weak we are, or how much control we have over life has an actual effect on our success.
Be aware of the stories you tell yourself, and begin to change them immediately. Pay attention to the words and scripts you use when talking about yourself. Do you often use words like “I wish..” or “I can’t..”? Our words are the best indication of the internal stories we tell ourselves. Once you are aware of your story, you can begin to change it.
If you can implement even one of these strategies, you will start to see a difference in the quality of your habits, and therefore the quality of your life. Leave a comment below sharing which of these you like the best and what new habit you’d like to create.
Alright, it’s happy hour time. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.