Tag Archives: success

Sunshine & Rainbows… not

I recently was reflecting on failure. To be sure, we all have failures. Those that take their hits and keep on trying are the ones I admire!

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” – Rocky Balboa

“The Art of Showing Up”

By Susan Shain New York Time

It’s the shiniest time of year: that hopeful period when we imagine how remarkable — how fit and kind, how fiscally responsible — our future selves could be. And while you may think “new year, new you” is nothing more than a cringey, magazine-cover trope, research supports its legitimacy.

“It’s not like there’s something magical about Dec. 31,” explained Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit.” “What is magical is our mind’s capacity to create new narratives for ourselves, and to look for events as an opportunity to change the narrative.”

One such opportunity? January. Since most of us consider it a fresh start, Mr. Duhigg said New Year’s resolutions can be “very, very powerful” — as long as they’re backed by science, patience and planning.

At the core of every resolution are habits: good ones, bad ones, stop-biting-your-nails ones. So if you want to change yourself, that’s where you need to start. Here are seven science-based strategies for making sure your new habits endure.

Imagine it’s the next New Year’s Eve. What change are you going to be most grateful you made?

Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and author of “The Willpower Instinct,” suggested asking yourself this question before making any resolutions. “It’s crazy to me how often people work from the opposite,” she said. “They pick some behavior they’ve heard is good for them, and then they try to force it on themselves and hope it will lead to greater health or happiness.”

Sounds familiar, right? To avoid that trap, Dr. McGonigal recommended reflecting on what changes would make you happiest, then picking a “theme” for your year. That way, even if a particular habit doesn’t stick, your overarching intention will.

Take the theme of reducing stress, for example. You might try meditating and hate it. But, since your goal wasn’t “meditate 10 minutes a day,” you don’t have to abandon the resolution completely. Maybe you try yoga next.

Electing a unifying theme will also stimulate your brain to look for additional opportunities to advance your goal, said Dr. McGonigal, whereas narrowing yourself to a single behavior will cause your brain to “shut off once you check it off the list.”

According to Mr. Duhigg, research shows that rather than “breaking” bad habits, you should attempt to transform them into better ones. To do so, you need to determine your habit’s trigger (cue) and reward, and then find a new behavior that satisfies both.

While Mr. Duhigg said cues usually fall into one of five categories — time, location, people, emotion or ritual — rewards are more difficult to ascertain. Do you always get an afternoon snack because you’re hungry? Because you’re bored? Or is it because you’re starved for office gossip? To determine an effective replacement habit, it’s vital to understand what reward you crave.

“Any habit can be diagnosed and shifted,” Mr. Duhigg said. “You need to give yourself time to really figure out the cues and rewards that are driving that behavior — and oftentimes the only way … is through a process of experimentation.”

You may have heard the key to habit formation is starting small. But you’ve likely never considered starting as small as James Clear suggests in his new book “Atomic Habits.”

His “two-minute rule” prescribes only completing the outset of any new habit. So if you want to read a book a month, you read a page a day. If you want to play the piano, you sit at the bench and open your songbook.

Although he admitted it might sound frivolous, Mr. Clear said mastering “the art of showing up” helps put a behavior on autopilot. He shared the story of one man who drove to the gym every day, then exercised for a few minutes before going home. By performing that seemingly futile action for six weeks, Mr. Clear said the man slowly became “the type of person who works out every day.”

For a habit to abide, it must have immediate rewards. But before you go buying a smoothie after every workout, note that, according to Dr. McGonigal, the most effective rewards are intrinsic, or the ones you feel, not the ones you procure.

So maybe, instead of that frozen strawberry-kale-hemp delight, you simply notice the renewed energy you have after lifting weights. Or the pride you feel when you don’t smoke cigarettes. Naming the payoff, she said, helps your brain build positive associations with the activity.

Smarter Living

If you can’t find an intrinsic reward, it might not be the right habit. You shouldn’t, obviously, volunteer to build trails if you dislike being outside. If your goal is to give back to your community, volunteer with animals or at a homeless shelter instead. “Choose the form of the habit that brings you joy in the moment,” Mr. Clear added. “Because if it has some immediate satisfaction, you’ll be much more likely to repeat it in the future.”

We humans are weak. Which means environment design is our “best lever” for improving habits, according to Mr. Clear.

“The people who exhibit the most self-control are not actually those who have superhuman willpower,” he explained. “They’re the people who are tempted the least.” If you want to save more money, unfollow retailers’ social media accounts. If you want to watch less mindless television, unplug your TV. Dr. McGonigal also recommended displaying physical reminders of your goals — yes, that includes motivational Post-its.

Your environment encompasses the people around you, too. Mr. Clear suggested finding a group “where your desired behavior is the normal behavior,” and then forging friendships with its members (which will really get the habit to stick).

Despite your best intentions, chances are you’ll fail at some point along your new-year-new-you journey.

“The question isn’t ‘Are you going to be able to avoid that?’” said Mr. Duhigg. “The question is ‘What are you going to do next?’” If you have a recovery plan, or if you can learn from your failure, he said you’re “much more likely to succeed” in your goal.

So write down the obstacles you foresee and how you’ll surmount them. If you’re trying to drink less wine, for example, you should probably outline a plan for after your mother-in-law’s next visit.

Also effective, said Dr. McGonigal, is sharing your goals with other people, and then telling them how best to support you. By “outsourcing your willpower,” she explained, others can “hold your intention” for you, “even when you’re exhausted or you’re feeling really stressed out.”

Cake might only be for special occasions, but celebrations are for every day. Science says so.

“Celebration is one of the emotions that propel people further on the path of positive habits,” said Dr. McGonigal. Celebrating tells your brain a behavior is beneficial, and that it should look for more opportunities to engage in it.

The celebrations don’t have to be grand. If you finally study for your licensing exam, tell your co-worker. If you survive a tough workout, take a sweaty selfie. Dr. McGonigal said celebrations can actually change your memory of a particular experience, making it more positive than it was. “And that makes you more likely to choose to do it again in the future,” she added. Taking it a step further, you can send yourself a thank-you letter or FutureMe email expressing gratitude for your new habit.

That gratitude and that authentic pride, along with hope, social connection and compassion, are the most effective emotions for promoting long-lasting behavior change, according to Dr. McGonigal. The least effective are shame, guilt and fear.

So even if you stumble when forming your new habit — which research says you probably will — be kind to yourself. Although big, long-term change isn’t easy, it is possible. “Habits are not a finish line to be crossed,” said Mr. Clear. “They’re a lifestyle to be lived.”

Are You a Master of Living?

Is it possible?

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well.”
LP Jacks
Lawrence Pearsall Jacks, abbreviated L. P. Jacks (what a great nick name, and how about that mustache!)  was an English educator, philosopher, and Unitarian minister who rose to prominence in the period from World War I to World War II.
As a student of success, I have heard a lot of definitions and opinions as to what success is and how to measure it.  This short passage is so very profound on so many levels.
A few observations:  The art of living:  Yes, to the master “living” is an art- something to be expressed and developed, as opposed to executed or followed.  No distinctionbetween work / play —  labor / leisure  —   mind / body  —   and education / recreation. If that doesn’t cover it perfectly, I don’t know what will. What an amazing ambition to pursue!  His vision of excellence:   Who’s vision? His!…  Of what? Excellence!…   Exactly.  Leaves others to wonder, but knows himself:  Absolutely! Others can wonder, but we who strive for this art will know what we are doing. We will be true to ourselves… and we will do it well.

I want to be the BEST!

Mastery is the highest form of intelligence.  The average person uses 5% of their brain capacity. Olympic athletes use 20%. You can access 40% of your brain capacity. We want more of you! Your vision, your story, the expression of you! We want the best you!

If we follow you will you, will you be happy with where you take us?

BELIEVE YOU CAN BE THE BEST!

PRACTICE – PRACTICE – PRACTICE

How I reached a Personal Record PR

Recently I was able to put in a personal record, known as a “PR” in the athletic world, for the half marathon run of 13.1 miles. (1:51.42). Not bad considering I’ve been running since high school… some 34 years ago! (ouch!)  My goal was to break two hours, a legitimate “runners” time. Only once before did I accomplish that, a few years ago with a unusual and suspect time of 1:57. The normal time for many years and many races has been 2:02-2:10.   Yesterday, I smashed that mark by a significant amount, and am now setting my sights for more improvements. Thinking 1:45?

As I reflect on how this goal was reached, I continue to realize that the success system that I’ve been experimenting with all these years (I am the human guinea pig in my scientific experiments), has finally been perfected and is proving itself over and over again. I have to tell you, it is really exciting. I believe I have assembled together critical elements to a success and goal achievement system that can help anyone accomplish anything they want.  I know that sounds grand, but I am deadly serious. I’m using it in my running and triathlon training, my weight loss, my businesses, and funny enough, even in the writing of my two books. I am proving it. I am also using it in my coaching and business consulting, where I am seeing results everywhere.

My upcoming book (expected release June 2016) “Get it Faster-Keep it Longer” is a step by step system for doing exactly this.  Email me at mike@imhighperformance.com and I will let you know as soon as it’s available, and I will have a special early order discount for you.

What made the difference? I have always known “what to do”. There is plenty of training advice to be found that tells runners how to train. Coaches, websites, magazines, books and more.  I have read that stuff for years. That was never my shortfall. For years I have put my training hours in. My “DOING” was always as recommended. What was missing was my  “BECOMING”. Once I learned the importance of “becoming”, and more importantly, exactly how to actually make myself “BECOME”,  did it all magically come together. I had to “become a sub two hour, 1/2 marathon runner FIRST! That’s right, you have to become what you want before you accomplish your goal. Over the past several months I became that type of runner- before I even got to the starting line on race day.  As I ran the half marathon and my muscles ached all over and my gut felt like busting, I continued with the thoughts, and more critical the beliefs, that I am a sub 2hr runner. I am a member of this group. This is what we do- we run sub 2hrs. We run our pace when we hurt, etc, etc. The eventual results were a foregone conclusion! At the finish line, I wasn’t surprised as I had expected it. I already knew it.

This is crazy exciting! I am telling you that after 35 years of high level training, research, trial and error, and practice that I have developed a success system that really can get you anything you want! If you understand imike cover zz1t and if you follow it. I will be sharing this system with all who want it! I encourage you to sign up for my weekly updates. Get ready for my upcoming book “Get it Faster-Keep it Longer”. Those who sign up now will get a free e-copy of my co-authored book with the great Brian Tracy- available next month that has a summary version of my system. In them mean time follow my Blog and listen to my Podcast “Get it Faster”! (Ah, yea… I’m  BECOMING a Pod Caster)

Who do you need to become to accomplish your goal? Let me know! Please leave comments or email me.

By: Iron Mike Stone , MBA, RFC, Success Coach, Ironman