In this life, we come across top performers some of our time, and then we come across the middle-of-the-road performers most of the time. What separates the two? Is it that they are blessed with a higher IQ? Is it that they come from more privileged backgrounds?
Oftentimes the difference between achieving success or becoming another body in the graveyard of broken dreams can come down to making a few small distinctions of understanding ourselves.
I have coached many people over the years, and I am beginning to see a common thread running through those who actually manage to reach the top, vs those who fall short of the elusive summit. (Whether it’s in pursuit of chiseled abs, losing 20Kg’s or simply feeling healthy again)
There are many proven ways to achieve a goal. Many goals have been achieved with really different and varying sets of tools.
The first piece of advice I would like to give in this regard is to find a teacher. The classical story arc of most movies begins with a hero (think Luke Skywalker), who is you. The hero will encounter a problem. At the height of his despair, a guide enters the picture. (Think Yoda). Yoda has managed to acquire The Force, by facing and overcoming his own struggles. He now has experience in this and can, if Luke decides to follow his advice, show Luke the way to acquiring The Force. Notice that Yoda did not commit himself to slaying Darth Vader, but rather to equip Luke with the tools with which he is able to slay Darth Vader or any other foes. Before he accepts Luke as a student, he requires Luke to show that he is absolutely willing to suspend all previous paradigms and to accept his teachings as gospel.
I have encountered people who looked like they were going to be the new poster children for Thorfit. Oftentimes, they knew which results they wanted. Over the course of 90days, they would start cutting corners. The workouts were not followed to the letter. Small allowances began to add up, and pretty soon, the results they achieved became as diluted as the advice they chose to follow.
Compare this to some of my absolute Rockstar clients. Someone who has hit rock-bottom will come to me and will be so disheartened by their own failed attempts, that they are prepared to shelve any of their own paradigms and follow the road map which I supply, to the letter. Not only does the weight drop off, their health return, but their eyes begin to change. The sparkle in the eyes that says “watch out world, I can do anything” begins to return.
Bruce Lee was once asked if he would take on a new student. He would place a glass of water in front of the prospective student and tell them that their glass was too full. In order for the student to accept the new teachings of Bruce Lee, he would have to empty the glass or make space for new teachings to settle in.
It’s the same with Yoda and Luke and it’s the same with Thorfit. Many of us arrive at a point where we really do need to or want to, make a change in our lives. The success of this change will depend on whether the student is prepared to toss out old conditioning and make space for new ideas to take hold.
So how do we make sure that a program works? Answer: Dedicated, hard-nosed repetition of every seemingly minor instruction that your teacher gives you. It’s called habit formation.
The sum of our old conditioning boils down to how we respond to the stimuli around us. 95% of the time, we’re on auto-pilot. Someone who has accumulated 10Kg’s around their midriff has achieved this feat without much thought. The habitual access to Dopamine (a pleasure surge), derived from eating sugar and choosing the comfort zone of the couch, has forged itself in their behavior as a habit. Performed more than 30 times, the auto-response is deeply carved into the mind and becomes difficult to re-cultivate.
When people ask me what they should do to live their fullest lives, I often respond that they already know what they should be doing. Of course, I can show them a shorter, quicker road-map to achieving their health and fitness goals, and improve their results tenfold. Fact is, most people are aware of some of their bad behaviors but they don’t do anything about changing these. They know that the behavior should change, but to reprogram the mind is a tall order for most. The answer to actually installing new behavior is two-fold. For one, you need to educate yourself and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Education and study will allow you to observe the nuances of what separates old poor behavior and what you need to do to acquire the new behavior. If you’re not achieving your financial goals, it may be prudent to educate yourself by talking to a professional, and then actually doing what he or she says you should. If you’re struggling to fit into your clothes, you may want to educate yourself first. This is not to say that you read a thing, understand it intellectually and move to the next shiny object of your distraction. I’m referring more to the kind of understanding that integrates directly into your life and affects how you behave.
Let’s go back to the point of already knowing what you’re doing wrong, or how you are sabotaging yourself with your old habits. I would challenge you to empty your glass and pour new knowledge into the glass that is your mind. Make a list of your top 5 self-sabotaging habits in the area which you would like to correct. Pick the habit which has the greatest negative impact. Now find a habit that you deem to be good for you. Give yourself 30 days of reinforced repetition to rule out the one and introduce the other habit. It’s the only way to fix a habit. You already know what you should do to make a marked change for the positive, and you can start there.
If you’re a late-night binge eater, then resolve to cut that out. Make it difficult for yourself to succeed in that state of overdrive. Put a pen and paper next to the fridge and write down the exact time you accessed the forbidden fridge. Now fill a bottle of water and place it within easy reach, somewhere close to the firdge. Force yourself to record every time you drink the water. If you want to progress faster, connect the 2 habits. Ie drink the water that’s in the fridge with every late-night appearance for a little binge. Do this repeatedly and see what happens. Pretty soon, you’ll be feeling good about the progress you’re making, because you’ve kept up with the recording of your misdemeanor. You’ll be loathed to disrupt that progress. There will come a point where you arrive at the fridge, grab the water, have a drink, and don’t even open the fridge. You note this down and suddenly you will feel like you’ve broken out of your old bondage. You have broken the shackles of your old behavior.
The great thing about following a system is that YOU WILL without any doubt, arrive at your goals IF you suspend your old limiting behaviors and replace these with strategically introduced new behaviors over a period of 30 days.
Remove the old habits for 30 days, link new behaviors for 30 days and voila… you’re on the winner’s path., Practice this repeatedly, and you will be one of the few who regards life’s obstacles with a mischievous smile, ready to turn any situation into gold because life is definitely what you make of it. To evolve to the next level, you can, through learning, understand what needs to be done, and then integrate those new and better serving habits into your life.
Good luck out there! Changing old paradigms is probably one of the toughest things to address in life. It’s a constant challenge. I’m on this exact same path because let’s face it…There’s always something that we know we can and should improve.