Life Hack Number 7-Begin with Strong Intention
I always say that change begins with a strong intention, so why is it last in this series? It is last because without having a strategy and a method of tracking the behavior change, it will be of little use. Let's be honest we all want a magic bullet a pill or a diet or even a hypnosis session to cause some rapid change. We essentially want years of non-productive behaviors to go away and never come back and the marketers who sell you stuff, want you to buy into that billion dollar fairy tale.
We look at the sexy bodies and fill up our garages with dust gathering exercise equipment. Did it occur to us, that the sexy fit body took time to get that way, not really because we bought the fantasy.
I used the word strong intention because it will take more than a wish to have you create the desired change. It will take consistent action over time to unfold it. It will also take practice to make the new successful habits and strategies the dominant ones. Think of the previous 6 life hacks as tools and strategies that will keep your intention front and center. Now take these tools and apply them on a daily basis with flexibility and kindness towards yourself. When you do you will find that you are in the process o becoming who you choose to be. This my friends is a journey worth taking!
Life Hack Number 6- Celebrate the Milestones
You have made a choice to change a behavior and you are really frustrated because you just did the very thing that you did not want to do. You may even be feeling some shame or self-loathing around what just happened. Crazy as it sounds I want you to celebrate the milestone that has just been crossed.
Our behaviors operate on a mostly unconscious level and we may not feel good as a result of doing them, yet we seldom associate that feeling directly with what we just did. In this case bringing conscious awareness to a behavior we are not proud of may cause us to feel poorly. Yet it is this conscious awareness that will begin to pull us out of our ditch of unconscious programming.
I see four milestones to this process and will do a separate blog on each one , here I am addressing the second one as it is the point where most people get stuck. We get stuck because this is where we store most of our emotional baggage. This place is where we identify as not enough, based on an external reflection of ourselves that is cloudy. We see a distorted picture and believe that this is who we are. We have perhaps been led to believe this, yet it is far from our truth. Our task in this stage is to clean the mirror so as to see ourselves more clearly and once we do we may discover that we are not nearly as hideous as we imagined.
I urge you to celebrate this milestone of awareness as it is the gateway to living the vital abundant life that you deserve.
Life Hack Number 5- Mastering Convenience
Humans will almost always choose convenience. In fact most everything in our modern world is designed to have us do so. Let's start with the obvious choices. Fast food is seemingly convenient and even if you are stuck in a slow moving line of cars, perhaps not so fast, yet quicker than making a healthy meal from scratch, especially if you have to buy the food first. Remember nothing has to be as advertised, just close enough to support a rationalization for making that choice.
The lure of convenience is strong and once the mind makes a choice to take the perceived easy route it locks the new pattern in fairly quickly. In other words it becomes another largely unconscious behavior pattern. In time we may find ourselves submerged in a life in which we navigate throughout our day on auto pilot. In the not too distant future our self driving cars will do it for us, offering discount coupons from advertisers urging us to let our vehicle drive just a little farther to make a new fast food choice. This is called a pattern interrupt and marketers are pros at utilizing it to move you in their designated direction.
This convenience I speak of also keeps us trapped in a cycle of repetitive thought patterns. Psychologists have estimated we repeat about 5,000 words and phrases each day in the form of a personal narrative that directs our actions. It has also been estimated that up to 70 percent of us have a negative bias to our narrative. It seems more convenient to live out of this old narrative than to create a new one and the fact is that it has at least served us in some way. What do you suppose the primary function of this narrative is? If you say self-protection or safety it seems to be about right. My sense is that this may have served at specific times, yet most often misses the mark. When governed by this safety driven internal dialogue, I feel we are prone to live small inhibited lives.
Another example of convenience is infotainment and even more seductive social media. On demand movies and 24/7 news shows may keep us entertained while we merge ourselves into their various narratives. We experience the characters exciting lives or have experts validate our opinions without moving off the sofa. Who today hasn't binge watched at least one or two series so far this year. I know I have as it is easier than working on a project or interacting with my fellow humans and yes sometimes we do just need to chill out.
In the case of news shows we conveniently select our media based on our beliefs and immerse ourselves deeply into an external narrative that aligns so nicely with our internal narrative that we seldom see outside of it. When we share our rehashed narrative with "friends" whose own narrative causes them to become upset with us, they may unfriend" us. We ultimately end up living in silos surrounded by those whose narrative fits with ours.
Connecting with new friends and listening to them share what they are about takes effort and involves a process of discovery. My teacher Bart Anderson had a phrase that he used when greeting people, "What's going on in your world?" This was both an invitation to the individual to share their experience as well as an acknowledgement that each of us does truly have our own unique perception of the world. This is where being inquisitive and curious about others and in turn about ourselves will help broaden our own perception and understanding of how these worlds intersect. When we give up conveniently clinging so tightly to our own narrative, I hear the results can be quite eye opening.
That is where mastering convenience begins, right smack in the middle of our narrative. This is a practice that begins with a clear intention that is supported by resolute action in the direction of that which is most important to us. By focusing on what is most important instead of what is most fearful we open a gateway to change and with action the fear soon falls away. Once this occurs the droning voice that is running in the background we will grow quieter and we will feel more energized and aligned with what we truly want. This sense of freedom is the fuel of real change.
About the Author
Behavior Change Coach and Author James Barfoot CHt holds certifications as a Master Practitioner of NLP and is a Clinical Hypnotherapist who is registered to practice in Washington State. He developed The Primal Toolbox a behavior change and coaching strategy based on a tribal models. James lives in Spokane WA.