MAKE YOUR HABITS STICK

Last post we looked at why developing winning habits is so important and how they can have a dramatic impact on our lives. The million dollar question is how can we be motivated to make those habits stick, especially in the moments we really don’t feel like doing them. This can be true early on. After a habit becomes a part of our life, it is usually much easier to stick with. Some habits you will even come to find yourself looking forward to and end up feeling like something is missing when you don’t do them. We are getting ahead of ourselves. Let us back up and tackle the question as to how we can maintain our level of commitment and enthusiasm for our daily winning habits.

One of the biggest mistakes we make is right at the beginning. When we are putting a new habit in place in our lives, we need to have a strong enough ‘why’. Let us use the example of eating healthier. If we are doing it because we know we should or simply that it would be good for us, that is not a very powerful why. Will this reason hold up when you find out the local pizza place has buy one get one free and you are tired from a hard days work? I am guessing not. Before we put our new healthy habits in place and make them a part of our lives, we need to become emotionally attached to why we are doing them. It is simply not enough to know on an intellectual level why what we are doing is beneficial for us. In order to stick to our winning habits, especially in tough times, we need to become emotionally invested in the outcome. Let us take a look at a few ways in which we can do that.

One of the most powerful things we can do is to really get clear as to not only what pleasurable and positive things will happen by us sticking with our new winning habit, but also what painful and negative things will happen if we do not stick with this habit. Using both will not only double our motivation, but will help us be motivated in an entirely different light. Most of us tend to use only the former and forget the latter. Take trying to quit smoking for example. Some of the reasons you may list for you ‘why’ is as follows. I will be able to breathe better and do more things without becoming so winded. I will stink less and be more attractive to others, especially those who do not smoke. My skin will age less rapidly. My immune system will be stronger and I will be able to fight off sickness better. All very good and helpful reasons to quite smoking. Let us look at examples of what would happen if we don’t stop smoking. These can often be discovered by taking to opposite of our positive statements. I will miss out on playing with my children and grand children because I will be too winded to keep up. In several year, or less, I will have to depend on oxygen and not be able to breathe on my own. I will meet the person of my dreams but they will be sick from the smell of cigarettes on my clothes and hair. My skin will dry, have more wrinkles and I will look older than I am. My immune system will be so weak I will spend more days sick than healthy. I will not be able to taste and appreciate some of the wonderful food I enjoy.

Some people may consider looking at the negative aspect of not achieving your goal or sticking to your habit as ‘scaring yourself’. In a way that is true, but when we are looking to transform our lives in a positive way, we need to use both the carrot and the stick. Both hope and fear are great motivators and should both be employed.

Another great motivational tool is considering something that may be more important to us than ourselves. For parents, this is hopefully their children. These quotes in the pictures above paint a pretty honest picture. You can tell your children how it is important it is to eat right and not to spend all of their time in front of the television or on their phone playing video games. If, however, they watch their parents spend hours a day on Facebook, twitter and other social media platforms while having a coffee and doughnuts for breakfast. What we say goes so far. When faced with believing someone’s words or actions, especially if they contradict, people will always believe actions. This holds true not only for children, but for our friends and coworkers and other people who observe us. If you want to be known as a great spouse and you are consistently posting loving words on social media, but when people see you out together you are disrespectful to your spouse, which one are they more likely to believe? When you are busy lecturing your children on the importance of good health and finances, make sure you are showing them as well. That is even more important.

So when the temptation to stray from the path of the winning habit creeps in, remember your ‘why’. If you have had a stressful day and your are tempted to light up, picture and really think about both running around playing with your grandchildren as well as laying in a hospital bed not being able to breathe on your own. It will certainly make it easier to find an alternative to that cigarette. Free doughnuts in the breakroom? Imagine your children following in your footsteps on unhealthy dietary habits and what that will mean for their lives going forward. It is important to use every means at our disposal for changing our healthy habits. We will not only be transforming our own lives, but you never know who may be watching us as well.

SO YOU WANT TO SMACK PEOPLE?

The above quote may sound funny, but in most cases of ‘enlightened’ people in rings true to some degree. I have been working in the field of self-improvement for over 22 years now. Most of that time is spent working on, fittingly, improving myself. You would think if you worked on something for 22 years and still haven’t perfected it that you might become frustrated. That is why it is so important to fall in love with the journey and not the destination. The field in which I work is called self-improvement, not self-perfection. It is about getting that little bit better every day.

You can do everything right and still fall victim to your emotions every once in a while. It is not only understandable, but is fairly predictable. Plus, in this world there are people who may very well benefit from a good smacking. People who purposely do harm to children, animals and those who cannot defend themselves. People who act with no regard to others feelings or rights. A prime example. My mother and I had went for a nice walk through the park. It was fairly warm and by the end we decided we had earned stopping for a nice ice coffee. Wanting to enjoy our iced coffee on the outdoor patio we sat at a table under a nice tree. It became apparent in a short time that we would not be enjoying the fresh air sitting under this tree. Sitting right under the ‘no smoking’ sign at a table that had a ‘no smoking’ sign on it was a man who was…smoking. This man was smoking a cigar that was only slightly smaller in circumference than a baseball bat. He sat at this table with four other adults and one child. They were all dressed nicely and I venture a guess that at least one of them could either read or make sense of the sign of a cigarette in a circle with a slash through it. Still, he sat and puffed away. Probably, deserved a smacking.

Yes, at the time this guy was puffing out fumes like a coal furnace in a non-smoking area the thought of a rap in the back of the head did occur. Maybe his friends did not mind the smell of smoke that resembled garbage on a hot day, but realizing there were others sitting in this non-smoking area that might have would have been considerate. Here is the ironic thing; my thoughts of smacking him were just as bad as his actions that gave me those thoughts. It is true that what he was doing was rude and not very thoughtful, but it is not my place to judge him or his actions. Getting upset over his actions did not bother him or encourage him to be more thoughtful. All it did was upset me.

We all have moments where other people can set us off into anger. What we really need to realize is that it is not them who make us feel the anger. What we feel and how we react to a situation is 100% determined by us. When you find yourself saying, “That person made me mad.” Rephrase that to, “That person made me decide to be mad.” After all, isn’t it true that a person can still do something unpleasant or even mean and we cannot let it upset us? Of course it is. Is it easy? No. That is why they call it self-improvement. This does not mean we should let people walk all over us or act in a way that is demeaning to ourselves or others. What it means is that we should not let their negative action cause a negative emotion inside of us. That is only multiplying the negativity in the situation. Take what actions are necessary to address the problem and send them thoughts and prayers of being more thoughtful in the future. When you do this, make sure to say a prayer for yourself that you may remain patient and understanding of others as well.

The point we are trying to make is that if you feel like giving someone a gentle physical reminder upside that head that is normal. It is what we do with those feelings that matter. Do we stew on them it get ourselves upset? To we yell at the offending party and threaten a physical action? Do we even walk over and let our hand demonstrate what our emotions are feeling? None of those actions will lead to a positive outcome for yourself, the offending party or the situation. If you have the urge to smack someone, just know that it is a test from the universe and that person is a personal trainer for your emotions. Making your sense of restraint and positivity even stronger.

DO THIS INSTEAD OF A RESOLUTION!

The above stats reflect the growth of this website. In the top photo you can see we have grown pretty consistently in the number of viewers since inception in 2012. A good thing to also note is that we have come close to doubling our views in the last year! While I was pondering such statistics and looking forward to watching them grow in the future, an idea occurred to me in regards to personal development as well.

Today is New Year’s Eve. On this day for a good portion of us, our focus turns towards ‘New Year’s resolutions’. I am going to encourage you to do something different this year. If you find it ironic that a website dedicated to becoming the best version of yourself is encouraging you not to make resolutions for the new year, let me further explain myself. I would like us all to make a new kind of resolution for the coming year. Generally, resolutions consist of things we would like to do. Things such as ‘start going to the gym’ or ‘quit smoking’. While both of these are certainly admirable goals and ones I would encourage you to take, I would like to approach the new year in a different way.

Instead of focusing on what we would like to do in the coming year I would like us to change that focus. This year I would like us to focus on two different personal areas. The first being who we would like to become. After all, when it comes to improving our lives that is the ultimate goal, to become more. In the case of the above examples, quitting smoking and joining a gym, one could change that to ‘I will become a non-smoker this year’ and ‘I am going to be more fit and healthy’. Not only does this provide us a psychological change in identity, but can provide us both more options to our success and more motivation to do so. In the case of becoming a non-smoker we can avail ourselves to the many treatment options available to us. In the case of becoming healthy and fit, we could not only go to the gym, but walks after dinner, bike rides, play sports, start dancing or any other activity that gets you closer to your goal.

The other thing I would like to focus on is how we can give. All of us have so many gifts to share with the world, our focus in the coming year should be how to bring more of them to light. If you would want to live a life filled with passion, joy and vitality, you could make no better choice than to live your gifts. This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your day job and running off to the tropics. Although I can appreciate that urge more than you can imagine. What it means is finding more ways in which you can bring what you love and what you are good at to the world. What if you are already living your gift? How about finding ways to share even more? Let us say your passion is riding your skateboard. Last year you made it a point to spend some time every week enjoying that passion. This year you may wish to start a blog about riding skateboards, or the skateboard life in general. Perhaps you could start a YouTube Channel showing how you do different tricks.

Let me share with you some of the goals I have for sharing my gift more in the coming year. First and foremost, my second book will be officially released early next year. I plan to continue the growth of this blog by exploring new avenues of sharing it as well as new partnerships with other blog writers. There will be a Secret2anamazinglife clothing line available by summer. We will accomplish our goal of reaching 1000 posts on this site. The YouTube channel Neil Panosian will reach 100 videos and look to expand its reach as well.

Think of who you would like to become in the new year and how you would like to give and share your gifts even more. Feel free to share with us in the comments below. We can all encourage each other in the next 12 months and stand a better chance of success.

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MEA CULPA

The phrase above translates to “my fault”. Last post we mentioned how even the most ‘enlightened’ or ‘self-evolved’ of us can trip up and do things we know we shouldn’t do. When this happens, when you don’t live up to your own standards it can be one of the worst feelings. Not only have you often hurt or let someone else down, but you have done so by doing something that is out of character. As a fabulous bonus, you can also come across as looking like someone who says one thing and does another. In short, a hypocrite.

So this has all been very inspiring hasn’t it? So you have done great on your goal for so long. You have not smoked, you have controlled your anger, you have been more positive, whatever your goal is. Then you slip up. You have a cigarette on a stressful day,or you blow up when someone seems to push just the right buttons. Maybe you find yourself in a very negative and depressed state? In the past because I worked so hard on being the best I can be, and trying to set a good example for others i would beat myself up for days when i let myself down. Being an author and motivational speaker it is also bad for business. Do you know what is worse, however? Not moving on. If you wish to continue to work on your goal of bring a non smoker,or whatever it might be, you do not want to begin again with a feeling a failure.

So what do you do? Take a step back, catch your breath and confidently say “I screwed up”. Trust me it is quite liberating. If you spend all of your time trying to come up with reasons or justification for your actions you can quite often look like someone who can’t admit they’re wrong at best, or drive yourself insane at the worst. Just own your temporary moment of insanity and strengthen your resolve to do better. Find a better way to deal with stress than lighting up. Try to be more compassionate when someone pushes your buttons. Saying “it’s my fault” not only frees you from spending wasted time trying to excuse your bad behaviour, but also shows you have the character to admit your wrong. Now just focus on making things right!

MAKE IT A POSITIVE GOAL

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When people make resolutions for the new year it is surprising how many are negative. By negative I do not mean we are looking for bad things to happen, but we may too focused on what we wish to get rid of. Such as “I want to quit smoking” “I want to lose 10 pounds” while these are goals are good in and of themselves, they way we have worded them is in the negative. We are quitting smoking. Who wants to be a quitter? We actually want to be no longer controlled by an unhealthy addiction. We want to begin a smoke free lifestyle. Lose 10 pounds? Why? Because we wish to live a healthier life. Some people tell me “I want to stop being depressed all of the time” really they wish to add more joy to there life.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but it is not. All of our motivation comes from two sources. We either want to reduce pain,or increase pleasure. I think using a little of both tends to work the best. I encourage you to write down the reasons WHY you are working towards any goal. Try adding lots of statements including things you will gain by this goal.

If reading this has inspired you, or you have found it useful please feel free to share this with all of your friends