If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.
This adage, over the years, has been attributed to likes to Tony Robbins, Jessie Potter, and even Albert Einstein. Anyhow, my inclination is not towards who coined this phrase, but rather to the point it makes. If you keep doing things in a certain way, stemming from a certain set of beliefs, your results and outcomes become quite predictable. Imagine making rice in a rice cooker. What do you get each time you add the same amount of raw rice grains, some water and turn on the knob. In exactly about 15 minutes, you get the same cooked rice, every single time.
If you think that this post is about setting those swanky “new year” resolutions you are mistaken. I stopped doing them about 5 years ago, when I realized I couldn’t sustain them beyond 10 days. You actually wait a whole year to make a bunch of ambiguous promises, and often at times you are not sober enough when you set them. Stop smiling there :). So, what happens? The excitement is all UP for the first few days. Then, you start inventing excuses. Soon your excuses get the better of you and before you know it, you are back to where you were on that 31st night. Only to console yourself by saying you will have better resolutions next year. The worst part is that this entire cycle completes in the month of January itself. To give you a recent example, I just saw my friend’s FB post about his NY resolution busted on day 2 due to a Mcdonald’s restaurant opening within 2 blocks of his house. Get my point :). That’s why I stopped setting resolutions a long time ago. They just don’t work, period.
So, what is this post about? What is the point I am trying to make. The point I am trying to drive home is to create good habits. Habits are more powerful than resolutions. Neuroscience studies have shown that it normally takes about 21 continuous days (and no more than 30 days) to instill a new habit, a new behavior into someone. If you can wait for 365 days to set resolutions, I am pretty sure that you can deliberately practice something new, something good for 21 days, until it gets automatically tuned inside you as a habit.
Get Curious in Life
It’s easy to do that. Instead of saying “I can’t” or “Can I do this?” or “I am not smart enough” or “I am not worthy enough” or “I don’t know how to do that”, start getting curious about how to achieve it or get it done. Consciously, for the next 21 days or so, avoid saying any of these self-limiting statements. Replace them with a curiosity about how to achieve it. Be flexible and be open to learning. Say “Yes” to hilarious or puzzling experiences that life has to offer. Say “Yes” to doing the same things, in a different way. Get curious like a child. Start to feel more alive.
Exchange “Try” for a More Powerful Word
Exchange “try” for a more powerful word, one that will empower you to produce better results. For example, if you replace the word “try” with the word “will” you might still fail, but at least you have given yourself a greater chance of success. By saying “I will,” you are giving your subconscious mind the instruction to succeed at the task at-hand, instead of merely to try to do it. The word “try” is a synonym for excuse. So, the next time you catch yourself using the word “try” stop short of it and replace it with a more stronger option.
Learn to Say “No”
There is a simple tactic I want you to practice to help you say “No” to all things unimportant this year. It is based of a study conducted by Professor Vanessa Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt at the University of Houston. They found that saying “I don’t” over “I can’t” is more effective in allowing people to retract themselves from unwanted commitments. I have personally used this on several occasions and have found reasonable success in the acceptance of my refusal. An “I can’t” seems to be a bit iffy and might cause the opposite party to feel, that with some persuasion they could get it their way. However, with an “I don’t,” you straight away come across as a person with conviction, and that often helps as a refusal strategy.
Own Your Story
Starting today, own your own story and take responsibility for the plot and story-lines therein. If you are already taking actions in your life, that’s good, but it is not sufficient. What happens when something goes wrong? Do you immediately start blaming and complaining about just about everything? We are all conditioned to blame everybody and everything but ourselves for the situations that we are in. It’s very easy to pass the buck and shun any responsibility to all happenings in your life. This last habit I want you to inculcate is tough one – it’s about personal responsibility. It’s about taking ownership for all those actions and acceptance of your decisions. It’s about not giving excuses or blaming others for situations created in your life. It’s about giving up all your victim stories. So the next time something you planned for starts falling apart, think why that happened and what you can learn from it. Think about which of your beliefs led to the outcome. Think about what you need to do the next time differently. So wherever you are now, it is the place to start. Start taking 100% responsibility of your life.
So, go ahead and introduce these practical habits into your lifestyle, one habit for each month and before the summer sets in you will have the new habits that last for good!