How many times have you set out to form a new habit only to crash and burn?
With the best of intentions, you’re excited and motivated to make some serious change. You confirmed your new behavior with your diary, calendar and maybe even a loved one.
You’re committed, and the transformation starts first thing tomorrow morning.
….except tomorrow morning comes and goes. And so does the next morning, and the next, until you abandon the idea altogether.
Good-bye morning yoga practice, healthy food choices and evening family time! And hello self-defeating thoughts of, “why can’t I do this?”
Changing behaviors can feel like one of life’s great mysteries.
But why does it look so easy for some people to develop new habits — like jumping out of bed at 5 am — while you hit snooze five times every morning?
Well…because change is really, really hard and you can’t expect it to happen overnight. Those people you admire, or are slightly envious of, have worked hard to develop and stick to their good habits.
Your brain is pre-wired and requires serious retraining to incorporate new behaviors into your daily routine.
According to Psychology Today…
Habit formation is the process by which new behaviors become automatic. If you instinctively reach for a cigarette the moment you wake up in the morning, you have a habit. By the same token, if you feel inclined to lace up your running shoes and hit the streets as soon as you get home, you’ve acquired a habit. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form. That’s because the behavioral patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into our neural pathways. The good news is that, through repetition, it’s possible to form—and maintain—new habits.
So how can you form new habits?
Develop A Routine
Like the good scientist at Psychology Today suggest forming good habits — or bad habits — is accomplished by repeating them.
And the best way to ensure you practice something daily is to develop a routine.
While our routine helps us develop good habits that are in line with exploiting our full potential, it also helps to eradicate bad habits that do not serve us well. We can slowly replace our bad habits with good ones through repetition.
One theme I have encountered through my experience as a professional development coach — and something that I have refined over the years — is the importance of a morning routine.
A morning routine also happens to be the one things that all successful people have in common.
Whether it’s guzzling a large glass of lemon water, doing yoga, sitting in silent meditation, or cold water plunging — yep, self-help guru Tony Robbins claims he jumps in cold water every morning — successful people do it every single day.
It’s just a regular part of their morning…
…like brushing their teeth.
A consistent morning routine helps set the tone for the day. Something as simple as making your bed every day can determine how the rest of your day will go.
Reduce Your Choices
A good routine also reduces the number of choices you need to make throughout the day.
Knowing exactly what to do and when eliminates the covert feelings of constantly needing to decide what to do next. Like choosing if you should get takeout for lunch or eat the healthy meal you prepared ahead of time — because eating healthy, home-cooked, meals is one of your new habits.
Developing and sticking to a routine is the best way to ensure you practice your new habits.
It’s also a gateway to achieving your goals.
Because when your behaviors and actions are aligned, you’re able to live a life that feels good. And you can reach your fullest potential.
So what are some ways you can develop new behaviors?
Think Baby Steps
You would never show up the day of a marathon untrained and expect to run the whole thing.
No. You’d start with short runs and build up your stamina through proper training. And the act of putting your running shoes on everyday is how you initiate the habit of running…until you can run a full 26 miles.
According to blogger, James Clear….
If you’re serious about making real change — in other words, if you’re serious about doing things better than you are now — then you have to start small.
Imagine the typical habits, good or bad: Brushing your teeth. Putting your seatbelt on. Biting your nails.
These actions are small enough that you don’t even think about them. You simply do them automatically. They are tiny actions that become consistent patterns.
Track Your Progress
Keeping a diary or calendar — like my Expedition Ascent Plan — that allows you to monitor what you are spending your time on is an excellent way to track your progress.
If you notice your time isn’t being spent on activities that are helping you establish your new habits, you can subsequently make adjustments and get back to following your personal routines.
And seeing what you’re doing on paper, whiteboard, computer, gives you the confidence that you are on the right track again.
Don’t Let One Action Lead to Another
While writing this blog post, I got up to get a glass of water only to realize I hadn’t fed the cat.
So I fed the cat. Then read a few messages on my phone. And was about to start in on something else when I remembered I was writing a blog on forming new habits.
….as you probably know, it’s easy to get off on a tangent and into a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with what you set out to do.
Maintaining focus can be difficult — especially in this day and age when instant gratification is everywhere — but it is essential to staying on task.
If one of your new habits is to meditate each morning for ten minutes, do it somewhere with no distractions. Because you know what will happen if you pick up your phone to quickly check your emails.
Make It Easy
If you want to succeed, make it easy!
Don’t try to change ten behaviors in one day. And don’t decide to read five books in one week if you haven’t even read one book in the last six months.
These are surefire ways to fail.
Make your new habits attainable, and easy to complete and track. For example, if you want to start reading more, begin with 5 or 10 minutes a day, rather than trying to read half the book.
Remember, you’re establishing this as part of your new routine. You can slowly increase the time as you get better and avoid feeling resistance to your new habit.
Schedule in Downtime
Scheduling downtime is necessary. Especially if you’re someone who is constantly on the go.
It might feel weird to put “do nothing” into your calendar, but it’s an important habit that also needs to be nurtured. It fosters creativity and helps to restore physical and mental well-being.
And just like any other new behavior, doing nothing takes practice.
Life is never perfect. And if you don’t anticipate setbacks, you’ll constantly find reasons to abandon your new habits.
Setbacks are inevitable.
You’ll get sick. You might need to travel for work, take a family vacation or maybe even move. Just get through them and get back to your routine as quickly as you can.
When you take small steps to form new habits, you’ll experience greater success in many areas of your life. Your finances will improve, relationships will flourish and you’ll feel healthy and energetic.
It’s not easy, but a small amount of discomfort is worth pushing through to form new desired behaviors.
If you know you want to change something in your life, but are feeling stuck please send me an email. Sometimes all it takes is an accountability partner.
What is a high endeavor?
Let me tell you…
A High Endeavor is any undertaking worthy of your energy, love and devotion.
This could mean showing up for your kid’s soccer game, washing the dishes or listening to a friend in need.
These are all high endeavors minus the adventure…essential parts of life, yes, but they don’t necessarily inspire you to be the best possible version of yourself.
Because without the element of high endeavor, an “adventure” is just doing something you don’t usually do, and which you may or may not grow from.
And choosing a high endeavor is akin to deciding which mountain — metaphorical or real — inspires you to align your values with your actions.
But before you do anything…
“It is essential to regularly take stock of your values, and then do whatever you can to align your life with your most critical values. Living in harmony with those values creates the fertile environment for happiness and peace of mind. Some people call this living authentically.” – Live Bold & Bloom
So when you’re tuned in to your values, and your actions support them, you can summit any mountain you choose!
And because the experience of summiting these mountains changes you — the more challenging the mountain — the more potential you have for growth.
And yet, it is so easy to get derailed and lose track of the very thing that drives and motivates you.
It’s easy to get lead astray by shiny object syndrome. To get pulled towards something that seems like a good idea, but acts a distraction from what is most important.
Or the opposite of that…feelings of overwhelm and impossibility can hold you back. Especially if you view the mountain as one giant conquest, rather than a series of small steps.
It’s why you need to:
LEAD WITH INTEGRITY
An essential component of any high endeavor is your relationship with it.
It’s important to understand and acknowledge that external definitions of success — what or how things ‘should’ be — offers no practical value or foundational support for your sustained success.
An external definition can provide momentary satisfaction and validation when facing a challenge. But mostly, it acts to derail you from your high endeavors by placing meaning and importance on something outside of yourself.
Always live your truth.
“Integrity can be defined as always interacting with others ethically and honorably…approaching work with honesty, and having made a commitment, keeping your word.” Michael Lee Stallard
Walk your talk.
And interact ethically and honorably with yourself…not just others.
So how do you stay fully engaged and reach those summits without losing focus?
START ON ROUTE
How you start your day plays a critical role in living a fully engaged life and maintaining your core values.
You’ve most likely heard me talk about easing into your day…with a breath rather than a bang and creating a morning routine to set the standard for the rest of your day.
A morning routine instills discipline and helps your mind to stay focused and engaged.
My ideal day blueprint is an excellent tool for establishing a 20 minute morning routine that leads to a more productive day.
Part of the routine includes free journaling that acts as a brain dump — setting specific and measurable goals that support your high endeavor will keep you oriented and moving in the right direction.
If you haven’t downloaded my ideal day blueprint yet, I highly recommend it.
When climbing a new or established route, it quickly becomes apparent when you go off route…
…the rock quality degrades, the options for safety protection diminish and the movement becomes less fluid and less obvious.
And you begin to struggle both physically and mentally.
The same thing happens when you stray off course from your high endeavors.
BLOCK AND PROTECT YOUR TIME
Your time is precious, and everyone wants a piece of it.
Every interruption, every call for help from family, friends or coworkers is a distraction.
If you want to work towards your high endeavors, then you must protect your time at all cost and allocate it to work for you in service of your high endeavors.
Be vigilant and disciplined that your time is yours and yours to decide how to use.
Planning your week with a detailed scan of your calendar to add, remove, or adjust your schedule to work for you is also essential. It ensures you are directing your time and energy on activities that will move you closer to your goals.
REMOVE DISTRACTING TASKS
Distracting tasks creep in from all directions…of course, there are regular life events, but it’s important to pay attention and know the difference.
…because these distractions serve to entertain and maintain the status quo by keeping you so busy and involved with trivial matters that you can’t attend to the bigger picture.
Important means: long-term, foundational, coherent, in the interest of many, strategic, efficient, positive…
If you take care of important things, the urgent things don’t show up as often. The opposite is never true.
When you allow urgent tasks to pull you away from the important ones, your high endeavors remain in a distant future waiting for you to someday attend to them — and will remain there as long as you allow unnecessary distractions to dictate your time and energy.
And do anything you can to clear your path and remove unimportant tasks from acting as a barrier to reaching your goals.
KEEP YOUR ENDEAVORS FRONT OF MIND
Keep a note or photo on your desk. Tape a phrase to your laptop. Write your high endeavors somewhere…anywhere you can see them often.
Any simple communication that cues you to stay present and focused will work.
A reminder that your decisions, actions and time demand you keep your high endeavors front of mind and necessitate decision-making to maintain that immediacy.
YOUR HIGH ENDEAVOR + VALUES IN ACTION
When you are empowered by the why, it’s easier to stick to your goals.
When your values are clear, it’s easier to determine your actions.
And when your values and actions are aligned you can purposefully pursue your high endeavors and live a fully engaged life.
The best part?
The lessons learned and applied throughout your life occur long after you have stood on each mountain peak.
The most significant enlightenment you face as a leader lay not in the brute success of standing on the summit, but in the nuanced application of the lessons learned in the process.
Sustained learning continues by applying those lessons in all areas of your life.
And your integrity as a leader is evident in your ability to maintain focus and direction towards your high endeavors regardless of external influence and factors.
The lessons gained from past experiences — previous mountains — help you frame what to pursue in the future. It is that core sense of applying your values that clarifies your direction and refines your ability to choose and engage in future high endeavors.
Do you feel like your values and actions are supporting your high endeavors?
If you have questions about this or need help connecting the dots, please email me, I’d love to chat.
An Olympic athlete wouldn’t dream of competing without the help of a coach.
A climber would never scale the side of a mountain without the aid of ropes and pulleys.
And a doctor wouldn’t show up for surgery without the proper education and training.
So…why wouldn’t you use a life coach to be the best version of you?
Why does life coaching work?
Just as an athletic coach guides and motivates an athlete with enthusiasm and skill, so does a life coach.
Life is full of highs — a new job promotion, getting married, completing your first marathon — and lows (we don’t need to go into detail. Life sucks sometimes).
There will always be adversity in life. It’s part of living and is unavoidable. But taking a step back to see it for what it is — even laughing a little — will help you immensely.
Learning to navigate the highs and lows with grace is essential to living a happy life.
Many successful people use life coaches, gurus and mentors to help them get to the next level…to facilitate with goal setting, discovering their purpose, breaking down negative thoughts and embracing uncertainty.
And so can you.
It is possible to live a life filled with purpose. You can have meaningful relationships that make you feel connected and supported. And you can align your personal values with your actions so you feel balanced.
If you’re tired of maintaining the status quo and want to reach your full potential, a life coach can help you accomplish the following:
- Create sustainable habits that support adventure in everything.
- Manage life transitions with vision, clarity, and dynamic energy.
- Articulate your core values and align your behaviors and actions with them.
- Cultivate relationships that foster adventure and support your high endeavors.
- Become a true leader at work.
- Identify and rewire limiting beliefs.
- Achieve your health and fitness goals.
- Feel present, energized and adventurous.
- Have the confidence and power to mentor others to step fully into their high endeavors.
You’ve been lead to believe that to succeed in life you must go it alone and that the road to getting there needs to be difficult — how else can you measure your achievements?
But the truth is:
It could take you years on your own to accomplish what a coach can help you achieve in a much shorter period.
You can read all the freebie blogs and articles online and devour every self-help book you can find, but none of them will provide the intensity and guidance a life coach will offer.
According to goodcoaches.com, a good coach:
Creates a safe environment in which people see themselves more clearly; Identifies gaps between where the client is and where the client needs or wants to be. Asks for more intentional thought, action and behavior changes than the client would have asked of him or herself.
Having someone in your corner who believes in you and encourages you to step over your fears — to ask bigger and better questions — and build the confidence to trust that you have it within you to reach your potential, is invaluable.
But it’s not a magic pill. You have to do the work.
You need to take action. And it will require you to…
Rewire Your Belief System
If you believe you can’t summit a mountain because you’ve never done it before, you won’t.
If you think a happy and fulfilled life is out of reach, it most likely is.
Your negative thoughts will hold you back. They’ll keep you stuck.
But learning to accept uncertain outcomes and increasing your tolerance for adversity will help you accomplish things in life you never thought possible.
I attended a personal development retreat once and we had to complete a course that consisted of following a series of ropes, tied from tree to tree, up the side of a mountain.
It looked so easy it almost felt like a joke.
And then the instructors handed me and the other participants a blindfold. They changed one variable, and I got nervous.
But, guess what. When I removed the belief that a blindfold would make it more challenging, I completed the course with ease. In fact, I was the first one to the top.
I could have used the blindfold to convince myself I was helpless and I’d never make it. How could I navigate roots, rocks and trees without sight?
I could have let fear take over and believed that putting one foot in front of the other was impossible because I couldn’t see.
I share that story not to brag, but as an example of how so many of us have limiting beliefs and patterns that hold us back, preventing us from fulfilling our real potential.
Many people didn’t make it to the top that day because they allowed their limiting beliefs to get the better of them. Fear took over.
3 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Coach
#1: They Will Help You Get Unstuck
When you’re stuck, it feels like you’re watching your life as an observer rather than an active participant.
You can see — and even feel the life you want, but you can’t seem to move. You also know you can’t stay where you are. And this feeling can quickly transcend to anxiety and overwhelm.
But you don’t need to suffer in this place alone. And you certainly don’t need to stay in this place.
A coach will help you identify roadblocks and negative thoughts, and offer new perspectives and opportunities you didn’t know existed. They will help you step outside of your comfort zone and create the life you want — by embracing uncertainty and increasing curiosity.
Life is meant to be an adventure. The big events and the not so big events…even the lows.
#2: Your Personal Relationships Will Improve
It’s tempting to rely on your loved ones to help you through a challenge. But would you ask a friend to fix your car or build you a house if it’s not within their expertise?
Most likely not.
So how are your friends and family supposed to know what will make you happy?
Hiring a life coach will remove the pressure you may have put on others to offer you advice, support, and accountability for your goals, so the time you spend with your loved ones can be focused on enjoying and truly appreciating each person exactly as they are.
You start seeing them as unique individuals instead of people who owe you something or have denied you something. In the process, you become stronger and more skilled at living a better quality of life.
When you are living your truth, the people around you notice. And as the most authentic version of yourself you can be a better partner, parent, employee and friend.
#3: They Will Hold You Accountable
“Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.”
― John Di Lemme
Working with a life coach is a process and requires your full commitment.
Putting one foot in front of the other when you feel like you have a blindfold on can be scary. Your natural instinct might be to flee and fill your time with work, family and friends…
…and resist what you know you need to do to reach your full potential.
A coach will check in, kick butt when required and motivate you to stay focused on your goals.
Are you living the life you want? Are you sacrificing your happiness for others? Have you reached a career plateau? Or are you feeling unfulfilled?
You know there’s more to life than you’re experiencing now and you want to reach your full potential.
It’s time to invest in yourself.
Stop making excuses, step into your power and start living a fully engaged life.
Email me to set up a time to take your life to the next level.
PS. My Ideal Week Planner is an excellent tool for setting and crushing goals. If you want to end your funk, and set yourself up for success, I highly recommend it.