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Willpower is not the way

Willpower can only get you so far.

A huge proportion of your actions every day are governed by habit; from what time you get up, cleaning your teeth, what you choose to wear, eat and even the things you say. So when you begin something new, most people find it doesn’t stick because they were relying on their will power, determination and effort that is above and beyond the normal. Bang, the diet is gone!

Ever felt that frustration? Try a new way. Take the goal that you want to achieve and bring it down into a series of steps. For example - weight loss might involve drinking more water, eating less processed food, starting some regular exercise and getting enough sleep. Far too much to tackle at once. Take one step and then break that down further; picking the simplest step is usually a good place to start!

So in the above example, we might pick drinking more water e.g. 2-3 litres a day. This can still feel impossible if we are not used to it! The key - boil it down to one TWO MINUTE action. And then repeat that action again and again until it becomes habit. Through this you master the process of showing up, and it gives you a platform to build other good habits from. When trying to drink water, our first action might be to buy a re-usable water bottle, and the second, to drink one small glass of water before we get up in the morning and do anything else.

Some of this might seem ridiculous when put into practice. Take going to the gym, or for a run. The two minute action might be getting yourself to the gym, doing an exercise and then going home again. Or to put on your trainers and simply stepping outside the door. Crazy right? If you’re going to go to all that effort, you may as well do something whilst you’re there?

However, to create a habit, it needs to feel a smooth, friction-less behaviour. Not knowing if there’s lockers or how to get water might put you off going to the gym. The idea of the cold outside might be putting you off from going for a run. Remove all of that, and boil the idea down to its most important essence - showing up. If you don’t master showing up, then it doesn’t matter what exercises you do at the gym or how long you run for, because you’re still sat on the sofa at home! The little actions cause a snowball effect and can result in change much faster than you think using this method.

So next time you’re feeling frustrated, have a re-think. What is one two-minute thing you could do that would move you closer towards your goal?


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