“ALL OUR LIFE, SO FAR AS IT HAS DEFINITE FORM, IS BUT A MASS OF HABITS — PRACTICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND INTELLECTUAL — SYSTEMATICALLY ORGANIZED FOR OUR WEAL OR WOE, AND BEARING US IRRESISTIBLY TOWARD OUR DESTINY, WHATEVER THE LATTER MAY BE.” –WILLIAM JAMES
Have you ever found yourself frustrated that there just isn’t enough time in the day? You say that you want to achieve great things in your health but they never seem to happen. You may make a great start some week, you get some momentum only to fall off the wellness wagon a few days later, frustrated, back at square one.
The pattern of stopping and starting is one of the most disempowering that we can have as people. The reason is simple, as time goes on with this pattern you can start to doubt yourself because you have ‘tried before’ and it just didn’t work for you. The worst case scenario is that you risk becoming a cynic over time. I’ll have you consider that cynics are merely well-intentioned people who couldn’t figure out how to create real lasting positive changes in their life.
We must also be aware in our lives of the constant demands placed upon our time and attention. The modern world is a pressure cooker of potential stresses, and in this place of time and energy scarcity, it can be even more challenging to lead yourself to success in your health.
In today’s blog post we’ll dive deep into the only real solution to long-term health when faced with the reality of doing life in the fast-paced and stressful modern world. The secret to success can be summed up in one word, habits. Let’s take a close look at how you can deliberately engineer your habits to build real, lasting, robust health.
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Your Habits Either Make You Or Break You
Success or failure in life depends mainly upon habits. These are things that you do without even thinking about them. Habits are what you always do; they are subconscious, automatic behavior patterns that run in the background in our lives. Successful people often will see repeat success in their life, quite simply because they’ve created successful habits. People who are unsuccessful will often become entrenched in continual failure, seeing the same problems, and injuries, and pains, and issues come up over and over again in their life because they have unsuccessful habits at play.
And so, if you want to send your health to a level that you know it can be, if you’re going to improve your performance, if you’re going to heal, if you want to avoid chronic health problems in the future it becomes essential that we exercise conscious control over these most critical parts of our lives. It becomes critical that we establish and reinforce successful habits consciously and proactively, building them into our life so that we can automate success in the future. Becoming elite at deliberately building healthy habits is one of the great skills to master because if you’re in charge of your habits, it means that you’re in charge of your future.
Your Habits Are Your Future.
If you continue with your current habits, there’s only one possible outcome, which is a future that looks more or less like the reality you are living today. If you want to create a new better future, you’re going to have to develop new better habits that are going to establish new results in your life. For example, if you want to upgrade your health, if you want to futureproof your body and mind, you can’t do that in just one weekend. You see, anyone can put a superhuman effort in for a few days, a few weeks, a few months at a real push, but we know that that’s not where lasting results come from. In fact, this cycle of building and destroying is pervasive in life. It’s a start, stop mentality, whereby you rely on willpower to put in these significant efforts only to run out of steam some days or weeks later on. What follows this loss of momentum is the disappearance of the results you had just created.
There is a science to health, and what it boils down to is that your cells require consistent, predictable, repeatable input across four key areas if they are going to create and sustain health long term. These four areas are your nutrition, your mindset, your movement and your body structure. It stands to reason then that if you want to create and maintain health long term, if you’re going to avoid injury, if you’re going to heal, and if you want to create any level of improvement in your health you’re going to have, to have consistent action inside of each of these four areas. Which means, that if you can deliberately create habits that are sustainable in these areas, then you can build a new version of health for your future. You can develop your healthy future one habit at a time.
You Are 100% Dedicated To Your Existing Habits.
One of the great traps in life is the feeling that you need more willpower or self-discipline to do what’s required. If you feel that way, you are not alone. Many people feel like they lack the necessary willpower to master their health, leading to the feeling of judgement and guilt when you find yourself wanting. This guilt is ultimately what prevents people from being satisfied with their lives, and from recognising the real progress that they’re making. This negative cycle is crazy when you consider the truth that we all have a limited amount of willpower in the tank. It’s not like some people are born with more willpower and that’s why they do well. Willpower is not even a skill. You cannot train it into you. There is only a finite amount of it to be used each day, like an iPhone that can only be charged once per day, yet we insist on streaming movies with the sound turned up loud. You can’t get frustrated when your phone shuts down at 11 am!
Here’s where the distinction is made. All of us are already 100% disciplined to our current set of habits. It takes no effort for us to act on a habit because these have already been created as subconscious automatic behaviours in our life. Instead of focusing on discipline or willpower the key is to focus on creating new habits that build upon where you already are, that will automatically lead you to act and behave in specific ways so that you can automatically create a new future for your health. Is it a good habit or a bad habit?
Is It A Good Habit Or A Bad Habit?
All habits feel natural. They don’t feel like they take tremendous effort, whether they’re good or bad, they just become what we automatically do. The only way to judge a habit as being good or bad is to ask the simple question, “Does it take me where I want to go?” “Does this habit support me or does it hinder me in the achievement of my goals?” Your mind is so powerful that it will work to support any behaviour that you create.
The real question is, are your habits, are your behaviours working for you or against you?
Examine Your Habits Closely
The fastest path to creating new results in your life is to get clear on your current reality. What is the truth about your life? What are your habits saying about you? If you take a look at your existing set of habits, the things that you subconsciously, automatically do throughout your daily routine, out of those habits which ones serve you? What habits are currently working in your life? Along similar lines; when you examine these habitual behaviours what is fundamentally not working in your life and needs to be changed?
When people consider their bad habits, and identify them, and get clear on where they’re at, the next question becomes how do I remove this from my life? This is where the first trap of creating habits is to be found. Rather than trying to remove a difficult, stubborn, harmful habit from your life it’s better to think about adding a new replacement wholesome habit in its place. This is otherwise known as the principle of addition versus subtraction.
Addition Versus Subtraction
If you’re trying to break the habit of watching away TV in the evening because you realise life is being wasted away, you could create the habit of placing a book where the TV remote is and read for half an hour each evening. By taking a closer look at all areas of your life, and seeing where your behaviours are automatic and habitual, and asking yourself the simple question, “What’s working and what’s not working?” Then, choose a new habit to replace the ones that are disempowering, this way you can begin to transform your future strategically.
It Takes Time
Conventional wisdom will tell you that it takes about 21 days to change a habit. Now, that may or may not be accurate. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no great science on exactly how long it takes you to create and sustain a new habit in your life. I will tell you it will take somewhere between 21 to 90 days.
During that time it’s going to require you to put conscious effort into creating these habits. You have to be deliberate, you have to be proactive, and you have to be consistent with positive reinforcement to establish even just a single habit. After 21 to 90 days your brain will have started to create new nerve pathways that will support this new habit, and it will then become an unconscious, automatic part of your life. So, for that first 21 to 90 days you need to schedule, you need to affirm, you need to add positive intentions to your day to create a habit that will last.
One At A Time
The simple reason why many people fail at adding new healthy habits into their life is that they take on too many at one time. This is the simple reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail to continue beyond the first week in January because people try and change too much. They attempt to overhaul their life completely, and that is more than any one person can handle. Breaking even one habit can be difficult, but it a conscious, proactive effort to change the way that your brain works. So, this is why we recommend focusing on just one habit at a time until you have it built solidly, so it’s smooth and natural, and only then do you add another new habit into your routine.
Out of all the habits to acquire the most valuable habit by far is the habit of acquiring habits. Getting serious about the habitual creation of habits is one of the most important keys to mastering your health, long-term. One habit at a time, building it into your life until it becomes smooth and natural. Then begin anew. What do you think could be possible for you if over the next ten years you build 25 to 50 robust, reliable, transformative habits into your life? I would wager that you would become future-proof.
Start very, very small. The Japanese have a fantastic philosophy on life called Kaizen, or continuous improvement. Tony Robbins, one of my favourite personal development authors, talks about his philosophy of CANI, which is a constant and never-ending improvement. When you approach your life this way, when you build the habit of improvement you become unstoppable over time.
First of all, we need to create the momentum, and the fastest way to build momentum is with something that is small. Something that will be easy for you to implement so that you create confidence in your ability to change. When you start, small your brain cannot scupper your process. We are all incredibly good at self-sabotaging results. It’s almost like the more significant the mountain we chase, the more that we get in our way. When you start small, your mind and body cannot resist these changes that you are implementing, and so you can stealthily slip in under the radar and enforce these positive shifts that will continue habitually and automatically, pushing your life forward for the rest of your days.
Powerful Habit Examples.
So listen, there are endless habits that you could create in your life. Even just the topic of health and performance has countless habits that you could master, so start small, and build momentum. Go with your gut instinct and choose a habit that will solve the most significant challenge for you. Is it in the area of sleep, stress, fitness, weight, pain, flexibility, energy? When you’ve identified your weakness, you can get strategic about turning it around.
Here are some powerful health habit ideas that could help you move forwards in your health
- Drink a green smoothie every morning.
- Write down three wins from the day before.
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
- Don’t eat after 8:00 PM.
- Meditate every morning for 5-10 minutes before you leave the door to go to work.
- Every time you sit down to make sure you sit on a seat ledge.
- Take the recommended everybody for every day for life supplements with your breakfast.
- Eat a handful of raw fibre food (raw veg/fruit) first, with every meal.
- Take a 15 to 30-minute walk every day at lunchtime.
- Go to sleep at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Hide your phone for one full day every week.
- Go on a date night once a week with your significant other.
- Show up 10 minutes early for your appointments.
- Every day think about one thing you are grateful for.
- G0 barefoot for 30 minutes every day.
- Schedule time to go food shopping each week.
- Schedule time to prepare meals and cook in bulk every week.
- Do your spinal hygiene (strength and mobility) exercises every morning as soon as you get up.
What Gets Measured Gets Improved
One of my favourite quotes in life is, ‘What gets measured gets improved.’ Also, another quote along similar lines is, ‘What gets measured and reported upon improves exponentially.’ So, my suggestion is to track your habits. Write them down in your diary or your journal. Each day that you get the habit done place a tick next to the date. Have a calendar up on the wall and every day that you drink the green smoothie put a cross on the calendar. This helps you to solidify your momentum; this helps you look back and feel like a winner. This helps you to build a habit quickly. The simple act of writing something down creates momentum around it and enables you to commit to the process of maintaining this habit. Always remember that what gets measured improves.
- Focus on just one habit at a time. Do not try and build seven habits in one go.
- Start as small as you possibly can, and be very specific about which habit you’re creating, and what you expect from yourself.
- Make sure you practice that habit for at least 21 days, and it could take up to 90 days. You will know when you have it because it will become a natural and easy part of your life that doesn’t require effort for you to do.
- Measure it, track it, write it down.
- Tell someone else about it. There’s incredible power to putting your intentions out in the world, telling your friends, telling your family, telling your colleagues. It helps hold you accountable to following through on what you said you would do.
- The FutureProofed Habits
Recently I created a program that will teach you a scientific approach to mastering your health with just four simple habits every day. I called it FutureProofed because that is what it will do for you. The best part about this system is it is a game that you can play with yourself each day. It becomes straightforward to know if you are winning, or if you are loosing when it comes to the most critical asset you have, your health. You can gain access to this system, for free, in the SpineCentral Academy.