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How to Be Honest with Yourself and Get More Done

How to Be Honest with Yourself and Get More Done

“You can dramatically change your life but only if you have the desire to change, the decision to take action, the discipline to practice the new behaviors you have chosen, and the determination to persist until you get the results you want.” – Brian Tracy

  • “I just need to focus.”
  • “I just need to buckle down.”
  • “I just need to have more willpower.”
  • “I already know what to do, I just need to do it.”

I’ve probably said all of these things to myself at one point or another and I’m betting you have as well. Most of us already know what to do — eat the right foods, exercise consistently, get proper rest and recovery, and do more of what we love and less of what we don’t. Yet it’s so difficult to put it all together.

How can we avoid feeling lost, stressed out, and overwhelmed, and get more focused, more results, and more stuff done whether that be with regards to our health, career, or in our relationships?

The choices you make are yours and yours alone

The minute junk hits the fan, you make a mistake, or times get tough…accept complete responsibility. Refuse to make excuses and commit to not placing the blame on anyone else or the circumstances. Wherever you are now in your life is because of the choices you made. To get yourself over any hurdle you first need to acknowledge that it is there. Otherwise you’ll just keep running into it over and over.

There’s a wonderful poem by Portia Nelson entitled “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk” that is very fitting…

Chapter One

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault… I get out immediately.

Chapter Four

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

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Chapter Five

I walk down another street.

If you are making the same mistake over and over acknowledge it. Ask yourself why do I keep walking down this sidewalk? Then choose a new route. Any route will do. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s not the same one that keep leading you to fall down a hole. When you’re on this new path you’ll now know what to look for. If you see a hole you’ll walk around it and find another path the next day.

If you’re struggling with your nutrition find your hole. Are you always falling of the wagon at night when you get home from work? You’re exhausted and just want to relax? Instead of taking time to prepare a healthy meal are you opting for something processed and quick?

What’s another street you can take? Can you get up a few minutes early every day to make sure you have something prepared for when you get home?

Take a look at your street. Where are the holes? What can you do?

What do I need to do everyday to achieve what I want to achieve

We often don’t fail due to a lack of effort — it’s often consistent effort that we struggle with. Most of the things we want to accomplish take effort spread throughout an extended period of time.

And the honesty…

Most of that effort needs to be extended for a lifetime. Now thinking of things over the course of a lifetime can cause anyone to hyperventilate, but the cool thing is it gets easier and easier. And that effort will become automatic.

Getting up a little earlier to get in a workout will become a habit. Cooking in bulk on a Sunday afternoon so you have meals for the week will feel natural. Using that hour every night you use to reserve for watching your favorite show is now spent on starting your own business.

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But the key is to start with one.

Just pick one area of your life that you want to improve. Trying to do too much at one time will require so much effort that you’ll either burn yourself out or make it difficult to commit 100% to each area.

What is the single thing that needs the you want to improve. Start there, commit 100%, and once it’s a habit move on to the next.

My way or the highway leads to you on an empty road all by yourself.

Learn to adapt

There is one thing for certain in this world and that’s change. I can guarantee you one thing and I will never be wrong. Today is most certainly different from yesterday and tomorrow will be different from today.

Even though some days you might feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”, subtle changes are happening every day. Just look back at your life. How different are you from when you were 10, 20, 30, and so on? I bet your job has changed a few times, I’m certain your body, some of your habits, your friends, where you live. Change is one thing I am certain is never going away.

Failure to adapt, try new things, experiment with new methods, techniques, people, and choices will cause you to be left behind.

What worked today might not work tomorrow. Can you eat like you did when you were a kid? Are you as active?

Your responsibilities and passions I am sure have changed as well. It is up to you to adapt to your new environment, your new role, or your new body and to figure out what it is you need to do in order to get where you want to be.

How do your nutrition habits need to adapt? Your exercise habits? Your lifestyle?

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Plan. Then plan again. Oh yeah, and plan some more.

“Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

I know we’ve all heard that before…but it’s true. Hey, I like winging it as much as the next guy but if something is not going the way you want or expect take a look at your plan… or maybe failure to have one.

It may seem like you waste time planning but in the long run that planning will save you time as you avoid having to start from scratch if junk hits the fan. A plan is like a map. If you planned out your route and hit a snag or make a wrong turn it gives you a chance to see where you messed up and avoid it in the future.

It also works when things go right. If you get to your destination you will have a route to follow and use again and again and possibly now have some guidance for when you embark on a new trip.

So whatever it is you want to do take time to create a plan. Don’t worry about it being wrong, as long as you’re willing to adapt you’ll make the necessary changes as you go.

Be see-through

As in crystal clear. It’s hard to get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go. Where are you now, where do you want to be, what do you want to do? Don’t concern yourself so much with the “How” but more so the “Why.”

What ever your goal, whatever you want to do define why you are doing it and why it is important to you. If building muscle, losing weight, or finding more work that you love is something you want to pursue define your why.

Here’s an example of how to do that.

“I want to lose fat.”

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  • Why do I want to lose fat? Because I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans.
  • But why do I want to fit into a smaller size of jeans? Because when I’m wearing smaller jeans, I think I’ll look better.
  • But why do I want to look better? Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.
  • But why do I want to feel good about myself? Because when I feel good about myself, I’m more assertive and confident.
  • But why do I want to be more assertive and confident. Because when I’m more assertive and confident, I’m in control and better able to get what I want out of life.

Now your turn. Pick one thing that you want to work towards. Just one thing. Make the statement. I WANT TO _______________. Then keep asking yourself, “but why” until you get to the heart of the matter.

I’m almost certain that almost all problems could be solved by doing this…

By always treating others the way we would want to be treated.

Personal, physical, mental, and social problems could almost certainly be solved if we always treated people the way we wanted to be treated. If our coffee order is messed up there is no real reason to berate the barista. It’s not fixing the order any. The only thing it is doing is raising your blood pressure and stressing out the poor girl behind the counter.

When someone cuts us off on the freeway tailgating them, giving them the finger, and honking at them serves no real purpose. It doesn’t change the situation and doesn’t help to resolve any problems.

If you don’t want to feel stressed out, unhealthy, tired, or upset there is a pretty good chance other people don’t want to as well.

What’s holding you back

What is keeping you from getting the body you want, doing work you love, pursuing adventure and passions? Identify and remove. If a jar of peanut butter is getting devoured every night it might be sabotaging your fitness goals. Identify and remove.

Are finances keeping you from taking that trip you have been dying to go on. Identify where you are wasting money and remove.

What now?

Is there anything you know now that if your life started over today you would not get involved in? Well life starts over today. What can you change?

(Photo credit: Honest Abe via Shutterstock)

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    Justin Miller

    Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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    Last Updated on November 15, 2019

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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