Alter your words to jump start your actions

by | Nov 20, 2014 | Blog | 0 comments

2014-11-06 11.37.54Whenever it feels too hard to do something, ask yourself this question:

“How can I redefine my goal to make it easier for me to succeed?”

Changing your language can help you jump start your behavior change and make it stick.

This realization was one of my biggest ah-ha’s when I joined a handful of people earlier this month to participate in the first ever Awareness Academy X.

The two Awareness Academy X co-founders and instructors, Kim Nicol, a Mindfulness and Meditation teacher, and David Ngo, a Behavior Designer, created an amazing program. It bridges a big gap to help people perform at their peak in their professional and personal lives.

Many individuals as well organizations recognize the profound benefits of mindfulness programs such as meditation, yoga and other practices.

When you become more aware, you’re able to improve your focus, reduce your stress and increase your overall well-being.

Yet life and work can get into the way of making mindfulness a regular practice.

For example, even though I have the best of intentions and understand the basic science behind the value of mindfulness, it’s been hard for me to meditate regularly.

Mindfulness experts aren’t sure what “minimal viable dosage” individuals need to maintain the benefits, but they do know that people should make mindfulness a regular routine, not a one-time experience or a once-in-awhile occurrence.

So how do you create the daily habit of awareness?

The Awareness Academy X’s solution: Bring motivated people to the Caribbean island of Nevis for three days where we can practice well-being and behavior design principles from experts so we can build mindfulness habits.

This concept sounded great to me. The experience exceeded my expectations and was well worth the investment.

Even though I am skilled in behavior design—including coaching myself and others to create habits—it was advantageous to practice mindfulness and meditation with others under the guidance of experts in a beautiful, serene setting.

One of the most helpful learnings was realizing we could—and should—give ourselves permission to reframe and use different words to describe our desired behavior.

Here are three examples of how this can work.

  • Want to reduce your stress, but don’t feel disciplined enough to make meditation a daily habit? Think of yourself not as a disciplined meditator, but as a champion of decreasing stress. Your desire to reduce your stress can inspire you to take a few deep breaths each day.
  • Don’t have enough time to exercise? Instead of exercise, “move.” You don’t have to drive to the gym to move; you can get up from your desk and walk around your office building, either indoors or preferably outdoors to stretch your legs and breathe fresh air.
  • Struggling to set daily priorities and stick with them? Instead of figuring out what your “must-do actions” are for the day, ask yourself “What’s my win for today?”

On the one hand, by redefining your goals and actions, you could say you’re playing mind games with yourself.

However, on the other hand, by making the actions easier to do, you’re more likely to follow through.

Plus, doing something small once a day is better than doing something big once a week, or worse, just once a month or less. And you’re staying true to your goal.

Being slow and steady provides three advantages:

  1. You start “being” the change you want to experience immediately.
  2. By identifying yourself in a new way, you’re more inclined to take action. As I’ve learned in my applied neuroscience classes, our brain likes consistency.
  3. As you forge a new identity with the small regular regular actions, you’re making it much easier to turn them into strong, reliable routines and even better daily habits that you crave to do.

Now that I’m back in my regular environment, I’m continuing with my daily mindfulness and movement habits, and trying to grow them even with my hectic travel schedule.

Am I craving meditation and movement though? Not as much as the memory of the warm, sunny weather of Nevis, especially with the latest cold weather snap here in the States.

But I’m making progress traveling on the road to good intentions, which is often paved with hell.

What are you doing to make your journey easier for yourself?


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