Isn’t it so easy to feel excited about making a major change in life? And isn’t it even easier to lose that excitement after a little time has gone by? And isn’t it even easier, than losing steam, to make excuses and come up with reasons as to why you’ve given up on that goal? This is human nature… or is it? Why do we lose energy and vision towards something we deeply wanted to achieve? I brought a world-renowned expert to this conversation, to answer these questions, so buckle up and maybe take a few notes.
When I was in a place where I wasn’t really loving my life, I decided to do something counter-intuitive. If you’ve been here any amount of time, you know that the minute my feet hit the floor every morning, I simply say to myself and the Universe, “I love my life.” I am not exclaiming something incredible. I am simply setting the intention for what I want to be true for the day and that is what I want the most. I want to love my life – no matter what. Our brain is a powerful organ, often underestimated and more often underused. And that’s not a knock on anyone or an intelligence joke. It’s a simple truth that we are unaware of how much we are actually capable of.
While speaking with my guest, John Assaraf, who is one of the leading mindset and behavioral experts in the world by the way, I wanted to really grab a few tangible pieces of what he has learned in decades of brain work. I want to bring this process down to Earth and make it read like simple steps that anyone can achieve – if they so choose.
What EXACTLY is a habit?
It’s easy to over complicate things. Simply put, a habit is nothing more than a reinforced neural pattern that is triggered by thoughts, emotions and behaviors. It’s like a feedback loop we perpetuate in our own lives. We see, hear, think or feel something and BOOM!, in comes our habit. In action, this looks like grabbing a drink when you have a stressful day at work. Or it could mean that you skip the gym as a “reward” to yourself when you feel overworked. Maybe a habit you employ is when you crave sugar, you eat half the tub of ice cream. On a positive note, maybe your habit is that anytime you feel overwhelmed, you take a walk in nature. When we look at habits like this, it seems pretty simple, right? Cause and effect.
The truly tricky part about habits is changing them, and has caused dozens and dozens of very intelligent people (Hello John!) to dedicate their lives to uncovering the processes that take place inside, that drive the processes taking place on the outside.
Your Default Mode Network
To change a habit, you must introduce change for anywhere between 66 and 365 days. This time frame, according to John, “Loosens the proverbial grip on the pattern or habit. And if you replace it with an empowering habit or pattern, this becomes a default setting for you. When I cut out sugar and changed this habit, it wasn’t that I was telling myself no all the time, it was simply that I was a guy who doesn’t eat refined sugar. This is your identity and your default mode network. It’s who you are by default.”
Radical Honesty Is Required
It’s easy to make excuses or create space to be dishonest with ourselves. And each time we do this, we are not honoring life, because we are not honoring the experience we want to have. We are letting other things interfere with our vision. Awareness and radical honesty around excuses you make is required. For John, the sugar addiction was real. He explained it like this: if a chocolate bar had 12 pieces, his wife could eat one piece a month for an entire year. He, on the other hand, would eat all 12 and then ask everyone else for whatever they had left. Seeing this and understanding that this was an all-or-nothing situation for him, helped John break his sugar addiction. Radical honesty is required.
Interested vs. Committed
Get comfortable asking yourself, “What am I committed to?” When we’re interested, we come up with stories, reasons and excuses why we can’t or why we won’t. When we’re committed, that means no more stories, excuses, or reasons and we focus on how we can, not why we can’t. When we’re interested, there’s room for deviation but when we’re committed, we start asking ourselves, “What knowledge do I need? What skill do I need? What tool, resource, coach or accountability partner do I need in order to make my commitment easier? Not easy, but easier.”
The nature of our brain is it does not want to start or stop certain things that it’s already become used to. In fact, your brain is so used to these cycles, that it went through the process of creating habit loops in your brain to make them automatic and to conserve energy. A rule of thermodynamics is that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. But – your brain will follow your lead if you are consistent.
You Know I Have to Mention This
The antidote to your brain resisting change is resilience – my favorite thing to talk about. John is very famous for a number of different things, and one that I love is called the Brain-A-Thon. It’s a free, full day event, kind of like a marathon for the inner work and the brain work. And I don’t want to give too much away because I know this is going to be an amazing day and event for attendees, but one of the things you’ll hear about if you attend (you should!) is how recovery rituals are an unsung hero for creating resilience. Sound familiar?
How to Achieve Goals in 3 Easy Steps: If you follow this process, your brain will jump in and follow suit.
1. Get radically honest with yourself.
2. Ask yourself if you’re interested or committed.
3. Create the first steps needed (use the questions above) to begin building your new habit into your life.
If you love this content and are ready for more tangible steps you can take that will change you from a person who sets goals to a person who achieves goals, check out the full conversation here… and don’t forget to get on the guest list for John’s Brain-A-Thon. Did I mention that it’s FREE?!