Let me tell you about an important habit problem I’ve had. A few years ago, my wife and I moved out of Auckland city in New Zealand, to live full-time in our new home on 10 acres north of Auckland. It’s been a great move – less traffic, more birdsong and gorgeous scenery. One downside for me was having to reduce my hot yoga sessions in the city from four to two per week.
With less exercise, it's not surprising that my fitness and energy level began dropping after the move – and they dropped significantly. To combat this, I added a 45-minute walk to my exercise programme, but it didn’t help. I knew I had to do something … and the something I believed that would sort out my strength, muscle tone, fitness and energy was going to a gym three times per week, on top of my 2 yoga sessions.
But I kept putting it off … putting it off. I did my best to add in some exercise at home, but without success. Then I had a session on this with my own life coach, Tracy. She was gentle, but firm, and probably a bit tough too, in a nice way. That session made me see what was at stake in not getting this issue sorted. Right then, on the phone, I made the decision. I made a promise to myself. I was going to do it.
The first thing I did was to set up a Goal document, and that took a couple of hours.
I wrote down the name of the goal: ‘My Magnificent Energy Machine.’
I created the details of the goal. In this case there were four items, each with a ‘by when’ each one would be completed.
Then I created my vision – a brief statement: ‘Exercising and eating healthily daily, building a progressively more healthy, stronger, more responsive body, that enables me to enjoy, achieve and contribute to the max.’
The next item was to define all my purposes for taking on this goal. I struggled to find the first six, but then my mind took off, and in the end I wrote down a bullet-point list of 15 different purposes. I discovered that having more energy, and a fit, sculpted, responsive body was the secret link to achieving everything else I wanted in my life. My wife doesn’t want a tired, weak me (and nor do I); my clients (medical and coaching) will be far more inspired by a strong, healthy, energized me. To get through all the video and marketing learning, to keep up with the new ideas coming into the life coaching arena, as well as keeping up in my medical field, I NEED ENERGY in order to stay focused, and not be distracted by feeling tired – because when I’m tired, I’m much more easily distracted. When I’m tired, I want to stop – early.
Wow, my enthusiasm was boiling over after I completed all those Purposes.
The next thing was to get down a list of steps + tasks. I knew I had to be careful here. Nothing kills a habit faster than starting full-tilt. You need to start a new habit – particularly big, important habits like this one – by taking baby steps, and loving … celebrating … each step you take successfully. In the past, I haven’t given much time to celebrating, but it can be as easy as really acknowledging and appreciating the success you have had every time you succeed.
I set up four Steps –
1. Get the home exercise habit established
Here I listed the actual things I was going to do, and when. I scheduled exercise times on my calendar for the coming three weeks.
I decided to keep a record of my successes, and to rate my levels of energy & enthusiasm in the morning and afternoon.
2. Get the away-from-home workouts established
In this section I decided on the workouts I would complete each week at the gym and at the yoga studio, and how many 45-minute walks. I scheduled each of these times for the next three weeks in my calendar.
3. Start work on improving my diet
Because diet is so important to fitness, energy and endurance, I sent emails to three people, asking them for ideas for healthy breakfast and lunch meals. I’m not rushing to change my diet – although one thing I did right away was to switch from regular tea to green tea, and to increase my water intake. I’ll work on this gradually. I’m a pescatarian, and I know there are improvements to be made in my eating habits.
4. Moving up to another level
I plan to step up my programme every 3-4 weeks. I don’t want to work on this now, so I wrote, 'Review in December' in this section – that’s a month away.
One task was to choose the gym I’ll be going to. I did that the following day.
There were other initial tasks, and I completed them all.
It’s now the start of Week 2, and time for me to identify the tasks for this week.
* * * * * *
Do you see how I set up this new goal, and the the new habits linked to it? I followed a particular structure, and worked my way through it. Writing down the information is a key to success: consciousness (including thoughts) is fluidic in nature. You need a written structure to anchor your ideas, intentions and actions.
The second important point is that I review ‘My Magnificent Energy Machine’ goal document every week, and make sure I understand everything in the Purpose section. That’s my motivation. That’s what’s at stake. So too are the integrity list, the ratings list, and the tasks I set myself to complete every week. Once you have created an ‘anchoring document’ such as this, the next part of the job is to keep it alive by working on it every week (at least).
The third important point is to remember to enjoy doing every activity and task, and celebrate every little success: what you tell your subconscious mind is really important. Be happy – you are creating your future!
Can you do this? Absolutely you can!
And when you do it, it will build your will-power muscles and thus increase many of your other abilities.
What do you want to work on? Are you prepared to do what it takes? OK, then – follow the steps and create your own Goal document. Schedule your start time in your calendar before you do one more thing.
Let me know if you need some help - email email@example.com – and I’d especially love to hear your success stories.
Best wishes from
Chest Physician, Success Coach and author of Creating Now