The way you create different results in your life is to take different actions than the ones you are taking now.
In order to do that, you have to change your brain.
Specifically, you have to change the patterns of habit your brain is used to performing on a regular basis.
If you’ve set out to make a change in your life, my guess is that you have felt frustrated when you easily fell back into old habits. You probably labeled it as “lack of willpower,” but what was really happening here is your brain was just doing its job—being efficient.
Your brain oversees many functions each day, and it wants to conserve energy where it can. There is so much outside stimulation that the brain filters out what it doesn’t need, and it prefers to use “tracks” it already knows.
Those tracks are called neural connections. The thoughts you think and the habits you perform on a regular basis form these tracks in your brain. The more you think certain thoughts and the more you practice certain habits, those tracks get strengthened until they become the tracks your brain likes to use on autopilot—even if they lead to results that are unhealthy for you. Your brain doesn’t care; it’s just wants to be efficient.
When you set out to make a change, your brain doesn’t like it. It wants to use the tracks it knows, so that’s why you “cheat on your diet,” “fall off the wagon,” or “blow it.”
You didn’t blow it. You didn’t fall off the wagon. Your brain simply slipped into the groove it’s most familiar with.
This is why it’s imperative that you stop blaming yourself when you are not “perfect” on your new health plan. Any time you get frustrated with yourself and feel discouraged, you set yourself up to quit too easily. Your brain is probably happy when you quit, but you’re not happy because you’re still stuck with results you don’t want.
Creating real change takes PRACTICE.
When I work with my coaching clients, I teach them the Art of Practice. I invite them to exercise patience in this process because their brain is bound to “slip into its familiar groove” many, many times. The point is not giving up.
The only reason why your current habits are in place now is because you practiced them enough times until your brain set them on autopilot.
This is great news! You already know that you can succeed!
If your brain was able to set your current habits on autopilot, with enough practice you can reset your habits to whatever you want!
To take my understanding of the Art of Practice to an even deeper level, I’ve decided to embark on a 90-day personal health project. I will be blogging about my journey each week, sharing any challenges that arise and how I work through them. I invite you to follow along, as something I share may help you on your journey of changing your habits for the better.
If you want to do this with me, the first thing you want to do is set a goal and be clear about why you want to reach it. A strong “Why” will inspire you to keep practicing your new habits, especially when your brain does not want to cooperate.
Here are my personal examples so you can see what I mean:
MY GOAL: For 90 days, I commit to practicing the new habit of choosing foods free of sugar, dairy, and wheat to see if that clears up my skin.
MY “WHY”: I want clear, radiant skin. I want to be free of relying on make-up to cover the breakouts on my face. I want to look and feel more vibrant and healthy than I already do.
The minute you set your goal, do not be surprised if the feeling of resistance pops up. Remember, your brain does not want to change. It’s comfortable with the pattern it already knows and it’s going to try to talk you out of it. There will be mind-chatter! Expect it. This was mine:
“You haven’t posted your intention yet, so you can still bail on this experiment and no one will know.”
“You don’t believe in cutting out foods, so just quit sugar and still eat wheat and dairy.”
“This is going to be really hard.”
The mind-chatter you hear are just sentences in your mind. You don’t have to succumb to them.
I decided to counter my mind-chatter with these thoughts that I chose to think on purpose:
“I’m doing this experiment on myself so that I can better help my clients. I am willing to feel uncomfortable so that I can learn more about the process of change. The more I learn, the more I can teach others.”
“Actually, I do believe in cutting out foods. I don’t eat trans fats because chemically it’s like ingesting plastic. I don’t eat anything made of soy because it messes with my hormones and causes awful PMS. I don’t eat foods with chemical preservatives or food dye because of the damage it can do to your brain and body.”
“Yes, it’s probably going to be challenging at first until I train my brain to accept these new habits as the new autopilot setting, but once I do, then it becomes easy!”
If you want to join me in this 90 Day Practice Project, come on over to my Facebook page (here) and post your goal and your “why”! Then follow my weekly blog posts and apply the lessons I will share from my journey in your own life. By committing to practicing our new desired habits daily, together we can make the changes we want to make and ultimately enjoy the results we eventually create for ourselves.
Let’s do this!