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Good Habit = ZERO willpower

Monday, March 04, 2013

Sometimes, when I talk about my habits to people, on what I have developed over time, and how is my day looking like today, I often get a comment on my strong willpower.
And about my discipline.
And how much attention I give during the day to live healthy.

And as I listen to these compliments, resistance builds up in me more and more... and I just don't know what to do with a compliment on my willpower. Or on my discipline. As I don't do any of these on an average healthy day!

In the contrary.

I do these activities completely in brainwashed, unconscious, auto-pilot, non-thinking way.

Do you think I could focus to do a list of 20+ healthy things on a day?!
I could lift a spaceship like a Jedi knight with all that willpower...

And that's the whole point of it:
It's a habit, because it doesn't need willpower, or discipline, or focus.

Of course, it needs energy, time, commitment to develop actions to happen habitually, without thinking. However, it's not that much, and habit development itself is already an automated process for me.

When I develop a new habit, I only focus on ONE single thing.
Usually it less then many people do around me, as they love to multitask and focus on many things to change at a time. This process didn't prove to be successful for me - when I focused on several things at a time, I had to focus on those things ALL the time.

Now, I just focus on ONE thing at a time. Then it becomes a habit.
Then I don't focus on it anymore. And I focus on the next ONE.

My practical advice:
Try this experiment.
If you have 5 new actions you wish to do (... I know it takes courage to wish only 1 thing, so I assume you have five), and you have one month; instead of focusing on all 5 things during the whole month, just focus on 1 thing, for 1 week. Then the next week, the next one. Yes, it's 4 weeks in a month, so you probably need to drop one of the 5. :-) If you decide to try it, let me know, I'm curious about your feedback!

Monday = New week, new possibilities!

This week my focus is BLOGGING, everyday!
And that's the only focus I have! :-)

I'm inspired a lot about your comments on my blog, thank you a lot!
And happy habit development for everybody!

Let's get moving!

What do you focus on this week?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    great tips
    2686 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12587296
    So, you asked what I meant about comparing to starting a new habit as compared to setting a goal SMART.

    My leadership classes a couple of years ago told us this - "Goals need to be
    S - specific
    M- measurable
    A - attainable
    R - realistic
    T- Timely or Time Measured

    So what do you think?

    2687 days ago
    Love to read your blogs, Oliver. I like the idea of adding in new habits one at a time.
    2687 days ago
    Oliver, you are so right. These things become automatic; they become habits. We I first began exercising in the mornings, it was a killer ( about 15 years ago)! But forcing myself to get up and do it everyday soon became a habit, but the really great thing was when it was so much a habit that I began to wake up before the alarm went off and I was excited to get up and get moving! Now, if don't exercise in the mornings, my whole day is off. You are doing great Oliver! Congratulation on your many successful changes in lifestyle!!! emoticon
    2688 days ago
  • POPSY190
    There's a lot to be said for cumulative methods. Good advice here.
    2688 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12428757
    *Sigh* Discipline seems like such a nasty word these days. It carries so much emotional baggage with it. I think maybe people who say a person has a lot of discipline are accusing them of abusing themselves in some way, and also excusing themselves for living a less healthy lifestyle.

    I think maybe it's really just about making choices. After all, if I'm feeling down for a day or two, and I exercise because it makes me feel better, I'm not really disciplining myself, I'm picking a non-drug, non invasive, healthy way to feel better. And maybe having a little fun, too, depending on what I do for exercise, and who I do it with. After all, it's my life I'm living, not someone else's.

    I'm glad there are so many positive, thinking people like you here on Spark People to travel with. :)
    2688 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/4/2013 2:36:55 PM
    I'm glad you're focusing on blogging, because I like reading them! emoticon

    I think focusing on one thing REALLY helps. Thus, why these 5% challenges are so helpful for me. Even the water challenge, which I'm always really consistent about, is always helpful.

    I think I'll try your strategy for tracking my food on the weekends. I'll give it a month and see how I feel about it at the end. Thanks for the motivation! :)
    2688 days ago
    I totally agree, I started a challenge on one of my teams last month to "do just one thing". And we got some good results! The multi-tasking, and multiple goal setting is tempting, because I think we all have lots of things we may want to improve on, but focusing on one thing really helps ingrain the habit, and that is what will carry on when the next goal is underway!

    2688 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3468195
    Great advise, that is pretty much the way I did it. Made things habits, good things, now I don't think too much about it anymore. emoticon
    2688 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2856573
    Thanks for the great pics and the mindset
    2688 days ago
    The following is a comment I made yesterday in response to someone else's blog:

    "The process of changing habits seems to me the most difficult part.
    It also seems to me that the thing to do is to try to make the new, healthy habits as easy, accessible, and pleasurable as possible. Example: choose exercise that you really like (and see the potential of loving), choose healthy food that you like in quantities that your body can comfortably assimilate, add self-care/activites to your routine that makes you feel relaxed and happy. Also helps to speak kindly to yourself during the process. Once the healthy activites become a habit, then they are the new comfort zone, automatic, routine, .....the "new you."

    I agree that you don't have to be what people consider perfect with new habits.
    A rest day can be therapeutic. A food treat (under control and in reasonable quantities) keeps a person from feeling deprived. Changing at a slower pace sometimes is better because then you don't shock your system with new expectations. Shock to the system causes internal stress......and we all know that we don't want any more of that because that can lead to overload when things get out of control!"

    It seems appropriate to add here.

    2688 days ago
    It can be daunting to overhaul everything at once. Taking it in small steps makes each step doable. You don't get up and decide to run a marathon, or sit down to eat a whole elephant, you do it one step or one bite at a time!
    2688 days ago
    I agree with you completely. I have made a lot of progress this past month by doing the things you suggest. The effort is in repeating the behavior. That behavior becomes the "new normal" and then it just becomes the new routine that one does automatically without thinking about it. One change at a time for about a week seems to be a good plan and then one is off to a good start.
    2688 days ago
    Excellent blog!
    2688 days ago
    That's an excellent advice! One step at a time will get you to your goals. Multiple steps simultaneously? You just stumble and fall! No accomplishment.
    Thank you for this great blog!
    2688 days ago
    This is so true! Each one of my new healthy habits these last 2 years I developed that way, one at a time (hiking, posting blogs, walking during the week, and more recently mindful eating). Then they indeed become habits and you don't think about them. My focus this week is nordic walking. I took a lesson before I left for meetings 10 days ago and I need to practice to reacquaint myself with it.
    2688 days ago
    Excellent post! Someone asked me recently how to get back on track and that is exactly what I told them....focus on one thing.

    I also totally agree that commitment is the real "secret" to success. Motivation and willpower come and go. Commitment....well, it's there all the time!

    Congratulations on your successes!
    2688 days ago
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