We all have things we want to improve on. There are plenty of apps out there designed to help us stick to new habits and make a positive change, but yet we find ourselves back to the habit of doing things how we've always done them.
For me, I love eating sugar. I strongly believe I am actually addicted to it as the cravings of sugar can affect my behaviour to seek it out. Recently I chose to explore a lower carbohydrate diet to cut my sugar addiction, but yet while I can visualise that version of me who eats healthily, has energy and looks trim, I am still the person who I always was. I failed to change.
The draw of the familiarity is stronger than the pull of change.
We are all creatures of habit. We are programmed from before we are born to respond and behave in certain ways. Our upbringing shapes our values and habits and in adulthood we operate mostly on autopilot of habitual routine.
So when we wish to make a change, we are essentially pitting a fight against ourselves – the very version of ourselves who is trained to always do what is familiar and with the least effort.
The problem is we fail to recognise that the person we want to become – and in my case, that's the trim, low carb ketogenic fanboi – is a different person to who we are today.
First we imagine our future self, and then we put the actions that our future self in the future. If you find yourself saying, "Tomorrow I'm going to be good and cut the sugar", then you are creating a debt for a different person, a different person who is in the future and not in the now. We avoid paying that debt right now.
You must make habit changes, not prepare to make habit changes
It's that simple. But don't confuse simple with easy. It's not easy. Don't want to eat sugar? Then don't eat sugar. Want to exercise more, then exercise.
Now I recognise this advice is actually harder than it sounds. But what I'm really saying is that you must accept that you need to act as though the change has happened now and not act as though the change will be happening tomorrow.
You may think that will require a lot of willpower. Willpower is what you use to fight your habitual self who wants to get back to familiarity and derail you from your desired behaviour. But willpower alone is not enough as the body will eventually figure out how to circumvent it.
To counter this, you need mindset. You will need to continually renew your mindset. By reprogramming your mindset, you will be able to take control before your body overwhelms you. You will be able to use mindset to fuel your willpower. You will be able to use your mindset to identify the triggers that will cause you to go back to your old self.
Mindset is what we will be exploring in future posts.