Habits Course Step Six
Are you sure you are ready and have enough time right now for this step? If not, just click the button below to go back to the safety and comfort of the last step or click here for more help.
If you are sure that you want to move on because you feel 100% confident that you have learned and mastered the last step, then welcome and read on!
Now that you know your triggers and how to change your state/mood (because a certain state can be a trigger in itself), you know how to get yourself in the right state to rewire your current habit loops.
That also means you're ready to use your current triggers that are already established to create new habit loops!
This step will also show you how to begin to set your own rewards to finish the loop and then begin to turn that loop into a craving that makes your toddler want to keep coming back for more. That way, your healthy habits become addictions!
In other words, we are putting it all together now to create powerful new habits for life!
Your habits, routines, addictions, and cravings got you where you are now. You can easily see how effective that has been, so let's keep using them, but to your advantage now, to make achieving health and fitness something that's not hard anymore. Instead, it will become something that comes naturally and automatically.
Best of all, once it becomes hardwired into your brain and your toddler is a fan (and even an addict), it's permanent! Then, very soon, your new health and fitness habits run on autopilot without having to even think about them.
No more weight loss yo-yo!
1.) Change your state.
When you are in the right state, your PFC (the parent) is in control and the toddler is being taught your new way of life, with a cooperative and receptive attitude.
EFT is the best technique I know of to change your state in minimal time, but I'd like to give you another easy, quick technique so you have a couple to draw from at this point.
The next technique is called square breathing:
- First, find your pulse. Most people find the easiest places to take their own pulse is on their neck or wrist.
- Once you have found it, breathe in slowly, taking four heartbeats to fill your lungs.
- Then hold your breath, with full lungs, for four heartbeats.
- Then breathe out slowly, taking four heartbeats to empty your lungs.
- Then hold empty lungs for four beats.
Then repeat the cycle as many times as it takes to change your state. You will notice that as you do this technique, your heart rate slows and you begin to relax. As you relax, it becomes easier to hold your breath, even though four heartbeats take longer. That's because as anxiety leaves your body, your demand for oxygen is reduced. The lower your anxiety level becomes, the more your rational PFC (the "parent") gains control.
If you don't feel yourself relaxing, then change your posture, focus more closely on your heartbeat, believe that this will work and try again.
This technique also connects your heart to your brain, which helps dramatically in this process, but that's a whole lesson in itself (i.e. heart rate variability and "coherence"), so just trust me - it's huge!
2.) Use an existing trigger or set a new one.
Remember your triggers from your worksheet? You can use them to trigger a new routine. So, for example, if your TV watching trigger is taking your last bite of dinner (or your first bite, if you watch TV while eating, which you should stop doing immediately), then use that trigger to go for a walk instead of TV. You will find it's even more effective at unwinding and de-stressing than sitting down in front of the TV! It doesn't have to be a long walk either. It can just be around the block.
The point is, you've replaced that neural pathway with a new pathway, so instead of going down that same nerve branch, starting with the trigger, you are now branching off in a new direction, forming a new branch. This is good for the brain and will also begin to atrophy that TV nerve branch.
Make your new routine easy too, and combine it with something you really enjoy. With the walking example, take your dog, which will be good for him/her too, or put your headphones on and play your favorite tunes.
Whether it's a short walk, 5 minutes of meditation, a tall glass of cold water, or whatever you pick, make sure it's so easy to do, it would be virtually impossible to not do. Set the bar so low you can roll over it!
If you want to set a new trigger, then, by all means, go for it! If the short walk is your new routine, then put a set of sneakers someplace you will see them so they serve as a reminder trigger. There are plenty of reminders and triggers to create to get you started with a new routine and that's the main point of the trigger: to get you started on that new routine.
3.) Perform your new routine.
Remember to create a new routine that so easy to do, it's ridiculous. If your goal is 100 pushups in a row, start with 5. You might be able to do 20, but keep it to 5. Then next time, do 6, and so on, as long as they stay easy for a while. If you get to 10, five days later, then stay at 10 for a while, or even go back to 9 for a while, so it remains so easy, not doing them would seem stupid.
This is necessary to reinforce how easy the new routine is, so you establish repetition until your new pathways are formed and ingrained. A new pathway takes at least 21 days to form and then another 21 days (minimum) to start to become ingrained. Make sure your new routine is easy for at least 42 days. Then slowly make it more challenging.
4.) Give yourself a reward.
Now that you understand rewards and have observed some of your own, use the healthy ones you have already established of course, but also try experimenting with designing some new ones to use.
When you use an old trigger for a new routine, your reward after completing the routine could be as easy as saying, "I'm awesome," while assuming a power posture, like raising your arms in victory.
This might sound silly, but it works because remember - anything that works on a three-year-old works on your subconscious brain (your toddler). Any toddler doing this exercise will actually feel awesome. So will your inner toddler, even though your parent brain might feel silly.
Experiment with your established rewards as well as creating new rewards. This step should take 1-2 weeks or even more, so take your time and go at your own pace to make this happen right.
No matter what step you are in from now on in this course, you will always be doing this step for the rest of your life to find your new habits and drive them deep into your neurology for the rest of your life, so make sure you get this one right, by changing your state, using your current triggers and creating new triggers, performing your routine, and ending with a reward.
Some other verbal reward ideas (always with some sort of power or celebration posture) are:
- "Strong work ______" (state your name).
- "Hashtag nailed it!"
- "I'm on fire!"
- "I'm the man/woman!"
Don't overcomplicate it. Later, you can get more elaborate with your triggers, routines, and rewards, but for now, keep that bar low! Remember, your three-year-old has to think it's easy and/or fun for this to work.
Remember, too fast, too soon is why people fail so often. Once your toddler gets overwhelmed, he/she gives up and then back to the old habits you go, whether you like it or not because after all, your toddler is the boss and he/she will always win.
The important takeaway here is to understand that training your toddler with your PFC, using an established system like this is the only way to achieve permanent change.
It's not about willpower. It's not about forcing yourself, deprivation, hard work, or suffering to "earn" your way to a fit and healthy body. It's simply about training your inner toddler boss, patiently, at your own pace.