Our CEO, Jim Robinson has been growing CGP and its team members for almost 35 years. In order to accomplish his goals and grow the company he learned a long time ago that goals and habits have a lot to do with peoples success. For his team to become they very best they could be he had to learn how to best support there dreams and ambitions.
In a recent "Food for Thought" email to our team he goes on to say "The greatest potential challenge you or someone on the team will face is not laziness. It’s activity around the wrong things."
I thought this was super relevant and a great insight because the response I get these days to "How are you doing" is almost always I'm Busy! We may be busy but are we accomplishing our goals?
So how do we set goals that will help us all grow and become our very best? Start small and dream big!
Here's how to develop good habits and make them stick:
1. Start Ridiculously Small
Most people want to create big change as quickly as possible. They want to go from zero to four gym sessions every week, switch to a healthy diet overnight, and meditate for 20 minutes every day even though they've barely managed 5 minutes in the past.
The problem, of course, is that this requires a tremendous amount of willpower. And research has shown that willpower works a lot like a muscle. If you use it a lot, it will get tired. And when it does, you'll be very likely to quit.
The solution to this problem is to start so small that it hardly requires any willpower at all:
Instead of doing fifty pushups per day, start with five.
Instead of switching to a new diet, add a vegetable to every lunch.
Instead of jumping on a re-bounder for twenty minutes per day, start with two minutes.
Always focus on establishing the actual habit behavior first. Never increase the effort before it has become a natural part of what you do every day.
2. Get Hooked on Your Habit
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to let go of a project when you’ve invested a lot of effort into it?
We can use this tendency to our advantage by using what comedian Jerry Seinfeld calls the “Don’t break the chain” strategy.
Seinfeld used this method to become a better comic by writing a new joke every day. Each time he completed his writing for the day, he put a big red X on that day on his calendar. Within a few days, he had a chain he didn’t want to break.
This is a very clever strategy you can use to create a visual reminder of how much effort you've invested in your habit. You'll likely find that the longer the chain grows, the harder you’ll fight to keep it going.
So, get a calendar, put a marker next to it, and get to work on your habit. Your only job next is to not break the chain.
3. Have Clear Intentions
If you’re serious about your new habit, vague intentions like “I'll try to hit the gym three times this week” won’t cut it.
Research has shown that you'll be much more likely to follow through if you've decided beforehand exactly when and where the behavior is going to take place.
Here are three powerful strategies for doing this:
Create an “implementation intention.” Reframe your habit as an “If/ Then” statement. For example, “If I’ve finished my breakfast, then I’ll do five pushups.”
Use “habit stacking.” Link your new habit to an already existing behavior by filling in this sentence: “After/Before [established habit], I will [new habit].” For example, “After I leave the office, I will go for a brisk walk.”
Implement scheduling. This one might seem obvious, but very few people actually use it. What gets scheduled gets done. So if your habit is truly important to you, let your calendar reflect that. Give it space in your schedule, just like you would with an important business meeting.
4. Celebrate Your Small Wins
If you’re like most people, you’re much better at beating yourself up for a bad performance than you are at rewarding yourself for a good one.
5. Design Your Environment
In many ways, your environment drives your behavior. Have you ever walked into your kitchen, spotted a plate of cookies on the counter, and eaten them just because they were in front of you? If so, you know what I mean.
Professor of psychology and bestselling author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, provides an excellent framework to shape your environment to support your desired habits.
hat he recommends is that you deliberately change the ”activation energy” of your habits.
The idea is that each one of your habits requires a certain amount of energy to get done. And the more activation energy it needs, the less likely you'll be to follow through and do it.
Let’s say you want to read more books, but you usually find yourself watching TV instead. What you need to do is:
Decrease the activation energy of your desired habit (reading books). For example, putting a great book next to your living room couch.
Increase the activation energy of your undesired habit (watching TV). For example, putting the TV remote in another room.
By changing the activation energy of your behaviors, you can nudge yourself in the right direction.
6. Surround Yourself With Supporters
The people around us has a surprisingly big impact on our behavior. One study showed that if you have a friend who becomes obese, your risk of obesity increases by 57 percent — even if your friend lives hundreds of miles away!
Other research has shown that we tend to feel the same way, and adopt the same goals, as the people we spend the most time with.
So, one way to dramatically increase your chances of success is to make sure you have the right people in your corner.
If you want to create healthy habits but all your friends are unhealthy, it’s time to make some new friends.
And if you want to make big things happen in your life but you’re surrounded with pessimists who drag you down, it’s time to create a support group who inspires you and picks you back up when you fail.
You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so be selective about them.
7. Pre-Commit To Your Habit
Imagine it’s 6:00 am and your alarm goes off. Within seconds, your plan of going to the gym before work is in jeopardy as your brain starts rationalizing.”Hmm, I’m actually really tired. I wonder if it’s even healthy to work out when I’m this tired. I could go to the gym after work. Or, I could go to the gym tomorrow morning instead. Yeah, I’ll hit the snooze button.”
But then, you remember that you’ve promised a friend to meet up the gym at 7:00 am.
Or, that you’ve committed to your workout plan by sending a friend fifty bucks every time you fail to get to the gym before work.Or, that you’ve declared publicly to your family/blog readers/Facebook friends to stick to your workout plan for thirty days. Or, if necessary, all of the above.
A lot of great information! Be sure to check out our other stories and post from Jim and his Food for Thought and subscribe to our new Podcast!