Begin with the end in mind.
Ah, the sage advice from the king of habits, Stephen Covey. His number two habit states:
Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.
That habit is built in; It’s how we function. It simply is the way of creation. How it relates to habits or your behavior, depends on whether you are aware of it or not. So, it’s about developing the habit of awareness…from there, you can decide if you want to make it real.
Me, myself and my Identity
When I think of improving my life I don’t think, “I need to start a new habit.” I think, “Why the hell am I still in this situation?” I question if I”m doing the right things. Recently, it has turned to, “Is how I am being leading me to what I want or don’t want?” I know something has to change. My awareness of experiencing the same undesired result lets me know that. So, if changing my behavior is needed, how do I start?
The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. – James Clear
The first thing is to do in order to form a habit is to create a new identity. Not jump right into taking action or creating a plan. But, choose who I want to be. How I want to be. Start with a new way of seeing yourself. As Gandhi said,
Be the change that you wish to see.
I think this is where many people, including myself, fall short. We have a hard time being the type of person or way, consistent enough to gain momentum that leads us to our goal. We have a hard time seeing ourselves in a way that we have never experienced before. Imagining ourselves in a way that we feel what we see.
Being someone we’re not (but want to be)
As I’m researching for this post, I’m looking into the concept of modeling. Modeling was made popular by Tony Robbins.
“Once you figure out the pathway to power, once you figure out the pattern of effectiveness, the model, you can teach that model to other people,” he said. “Whether it be money, or relationship, or your body, those models are there.”
And something just occurred to me why I and others have little success when it comes to modeling – we model the wrong people. That is people who are too far ahead. In some ways, we usually see two types of people, those who have succeeded and those who have not. Rarely do we see or hear about those in the process. This may be why it is difficult to model or follow. We must learn to model those who are at the next level or two up.
Another personal experience about modeling is what I did for this post – research. I started doing this exact behavior because other bloggers mentioned doing it for their posts. Posts that you could tell had some thought put into them. Since I want to create, craft and present valuable information, researching is what I need to start doing.
But why? What made me start researching a few weeks ago? Is it a normal step in progress? I think it was more a conscious decision. If I want to experience an improved life, I need to start making changes.
Acquire small wins
This concept is widely used and is how a lot of things happen or come to fruition… bit by bit. Whether it’s using the snowball method to eliminate debt (I did, then gained it all and then some, back. Another story) or build online passive income. (my goal)
Thinking about it now, many do struggle when working on their task alone. The reason is that it’s easy for us, on an individual basis, to get distracted and become impatient. Yet, you also need to be careful who supports you.
If we make a point to tell ourselves, “This is a process. It has worked for others and will work for me. Yes, it will take time and effort.”, in the beginning, then, we have a built-in expectation and acceptance.
Making small wins work
Adding a new behavior, essentially replacing an unwanted one, can be daunting. But it’s definitely possible. It must. This is especially true if you’ve been wanting it for a while or you’re putting pressure on yourself because of a “should”. (I should have been there by now. I should better. etc.)
The how is to not focus on the goal – the end in mind. Instead, you develop a schedule. Think of it as if you were joining a class. “Oh, on Monday and Thursday I go to my “X” class.” The goal for a sports team is to win the championship. But, in order to do that, they need to stick to their schedule.
Success is in the Process
Years ago when I was interested in real estate investing, one of the strategies was that you make money when you buy, not only when you sell. For a while, I didn’t get that? That’s how you need to approach your new schedule or routine. As soon as you start, you’ve won. You simply have to accept that this is how it’s done.
There are no quick fixes – you have to go through the process. It will speed up the more you enjoy it. If you are truly enjoying your process, you will practically forget about the goal.
The only other option is to not stick to your schedule. And if you can make not doing it more painful than following through, then, you’ve made the change within.
Supporting Your New Behavior
One of the simplest things I’ve done in recent weeks in which surprised me in how quickly I noticed results is using sticky notes. What I did, and still do when inspired, is stuck phrases of who I wanted to be on my bathroom mirror. I have 12 up now.
I read them each time I brush my teeth – morning and night, along with any other time I go in. I may not read each one, but, they stick out and I notice them which makes me read one or two. On about the 3rd or 4th day, I noticed I said to myself the phrases without thinking. I thought that was pretty cool.
So putting a note somewhere where you’ll see it and read it is a really easy way to reinforce your new habit. Just make sure it pertains to your goal or schedule…something like, “go to class.” or “my new behavior will lead me to success.” or “each day I become more and more successful.” (I have that last one up)
Like it and Link it
Linking your new behavior to an activity you like, or one you do anyway, (like brushing your teeth) is super beneficial. This is associating your behavior to a feeling or emotion. You want to associate your new action to feeling good. Overall, the idea is to include your fresh starting habit with an activity that’s already built-in. (and also is good for you)
Using these ideas to reinforce your new behavior or habit, and you’ll soon be reaching your desired outcome before you know it.