How to Start a Habit & Win (For People 30+).
Why even bother start a habit?
It is a good question.
It’s so our lives become better.
The only thing that has even given me happiness is when I see progress. Progress in anything.
When I start a habit it gives me an opportunity to activate progress and therefore happiness.
Starting a habit and building momentum is the quickest way of getting out of a rut.
[Malan Darras gave me this insight. He expressed something that I couldn’t articulate for years. I will add a link to the respective YouTube episode in the resources section below this article – Update: He got the principal from Tony Robbins]
What are your reasons?
I don’t believe habits can be sustained if they’re largely based upon flimsy reasons such as vanity or external influences.
In the past when I wanted to lose weight (and failed), I told myself that I would become “more popular” and be that “fit guy with abs”. This is a low-level thinking ego.
Only you can look deep inside yourself to determine the basis for wanting to do something on a consistent basis.
Real reasons include exercising and losing weight for the sake of achievement, to have more energy to progress towards your other life missions or to be a better role model for your children.
Most people believe they can’t change.
They won’t tell you this if you ask them directly. They will tell you that they can learn a new language or lose weight, get fit, or whatever. But deep inside, they actually believe they are incapable of changing.
You can see this when they give up making NY resolutions or refuse to listen to new ideas or research that perhaps might give them a better strategy for effecting change.
Then there’s other people..
Who believe they can change and start a habit and succeed. We can lose weight, get fit, or have sex over international waters with our partners.
It is certainly easier to change when you have the “I can start a new habit and win” belief. However, it isn’t actually necessary.
You just have to have a tiny bit of faith and start with the principle that failure isn’t bad. It is simply feedback to improve the next time and to set up a better system to make the habit work long term.
I don’t necessarily believe that goals are that effective. I am more of a systems man. I prefer to start patterns of behavior that get me to my desired destination. Getting caught up on goals can be stressful and can hinder the chances of actually achieving that goal.
I have an income goal that I would like to achieve at the end of the year but this desired outcome stresses me out and pushes me further away from that outcome.
In order to set up a system I need to know what I am aiming for and in this sense, a goal is required.
Most people who read my site desire to lose weight – so getting fit is the goal. Now with that in mind, we can focus on a system that will help us get there.
Habits = Systems
Here are relevant systems that will make you lose weight.
Attend the gym 3x per week for 10 minutes.
If you cannot remember the last time you successfully implemented a new habit, you should start a system at a very basic level such as this.
When I started my weight loss journey 15 months ago, I had no recollection of starting a habit and succeeding in any past endeavor. It is one of the reasons why I have succeeded in getting rid of weight because the bar was so low, that I was able to build confidence by beating that bar.
The system that I implemented and developed was to simply get to the gym 3 times a week for a minimum of 5 minutes. 5 minutes is so small that any internal resistance to the new habit was irrelevant.
There is no way I would have been successful in dropping the weight had I aimed higher at the start – aka 60-minute gym sessions. Since it was only 5 minutes, I actually went and exercised.
After the first few sessions, I ended up staying for more than an hour most of the time. I felt this ‘overtime’ at the gym was a bonus and it made me feel like I overachieved. This led to more confidence in my own abilities to turn up the following time and for longer.
One thing only please!
I’ve said this elsewhere on the site but to lose weight I strongly suggest that you start with exercise as the focus and to not spend too much will power attempting to adjust your diet as well at the start.
When you start exercising, that action naturally changes your biochemistry which will often reduce your appetite back to healthier levels anyway. Provided you exercise the right way (little intensive exercise, resistance training), you will eat less automatically on autopilot.
The reason why I say don’t bother trying to change your default diet approach when you start is that we only have so much willpower to spend each day.
I don’t believe humans can change multiple things at the same time. I believe we should focus on one pattern of behavior at any given time. Don’t try and change 45 things today. Choose one and focus on that until the initial hump of energy that is required to implement that habit has been conquered. After a month, the habit will become part of your nature and autopilot behavior.
Learning a language
At the end of the year, I plan on moving to Japan and because of this, I would like to learn Japanese.
I have started a system of learning 10 minutes of Japanese a day.
The daily desired behavior is so small: 10 minutes of learning. It’s near on impossible not to tick off this daily behavior. I find myself getting lost in it, and 40 minutes later I realize I’ve done more than 10 minutes.
It is really important that you track your progress.
Visually seeing these tracked habits will help you breed more confidence, and this naturally increases the probability that you make this habit permanent.
I use the iPhone App “49X”. There is also an alternative app called “Don’t Break the Chain” which is also super good.
Visualization doesn’t work but this does
The “Law of Attraction” is a popular self-help concept that involves visualizing a desired outcome as already been achieved, and that if we do this, we are more likely to get that desired outcome.
Science hasn’t backed this idea.
Nor have I had success with vision boards or any other aspects of this concept at all.
However there is some science that backs a similar concept.
There have been some studies that show that if an individual visualizes the desired outcome, and then goes into visualizing potential barriers in the way of that outcome, there’s an increased probability that he or she gets that desired goal. Psychologist Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson is at the forefront of this research and has a book that examines this research and process.
No success is permanent. The struggle is constant and endless.
As Rory Vaden states: “Success can only be rented”. At no point can we ever say we are permanently successful. Creating a system for achieving goals, that are practiced every single day – is the only state of success we can achieve.
Don’t wait for a New Year to make a change.
You don’t have to wait until New Year or a Monday. You can make a change now. The best time to start a habit is now.
Be the Leader
You may not have any role models around you but you can find them on the Internet. Fill your head with role models that practice their systems every day. Whether it be fitness leaders on YouTube or reading inspiring autobiographies. Their progress will inspire and guide you in subtle ways that you won’t be able to explain.
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