If you had to guess how many thoughts we had in a day, how many do you think we have?
If you guessed 60,000 to 90,000, you’re right.
That’s a lot of thoughts!
But here’s where it gets even more interesting…
Almost 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts you had yesterday. That means you’ve been having the same thoughts every single day for a very, very long time.
So it’s no wonder that most people read a book or attend an event, and no matter how amazing the content is, they fail to implement it.
Imagine for a second that our thoughts to be a river and our brain to be the rock that the river runs through. The river breaks through the rock not because of it’s force, but because of it’s consistency. That’s exactly how our
thoughts work. Every time you have a thought, there’s a ridge that’s created in your brain. When you have the same thoughts consistently over and over and over and over and over again, those ridges continue to get deeper.
To make it worse, when you start trying to change your thoughts, your brain goes into protection mode. Your brain doesn’t want to change so the more you try to change your thoughts, the more your brain will fight back…
… No wonder it’s so damn hard to change the way that we think!
In order to change your reality, you have to change your actions. In order to change your actions, you have to change your thoughts… so how do you change your thoughts when you’ve been having the same thoughts consistently?
The first step is to be realistic about how hard it is to change your thoughts and habits. When you’re honest with yourself about that, you can start to mentally prepare for the shift in mindset and start moving forward.
You will need to create new habits, new thought patterns, new ways of talking to yourself and commit to immersing yourself into whatever it is that you’re committing to.
How Habits Work
When you’re setting new habits, don’t focus on setting 20 different habits. In ‘The Power of Habit, Gary Keller asks us to answer the clarifying question:
“What is the one thing that you can do that by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?”
That is your keystone habit – one habit that affects multiple aspects of your life. In my personal life, that keystone habit is working out. On the mornings that I work out, I eat better, manage my time better and have more energy.
In my real estate business, that is focusing on lead generation. For you, it could be something completely different. If you’re constantly asking yourself the clarifying question, you’ll know that you’re making effective use of your time.
The Habit Loop
In the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about how our habits work and what causes us to execute on them. Before I explain it, here’s what it looks like:
The example that stuck with me the most was when he talked about how toothpaste first started selling. Apparently, back in the day, we didn’t use toothpaste (ew).
There was a marketing campaign that used people licking their teeth and feeling the ‘film’ (you know, that layer of grime when you wake up in the morning).
That was the cue.
In the campaign, they used people brushing their teeth (routine) and then licking their teeth after and the layer of film being gone (reward). If you think about it, that still applies to our lives now.
When you’re trying to change your habits, keep the cue and the reward the same – just change the routine. Think about your existing habits, good or bad.
Let’s say your bad habit is checking social media non-stop. Your cue might be the notification that pops up, boredom or avoidance of doing something else. The habit is to check your phone and the reward is the instant gratification of having all of those likes and comments.
Keeping the cue and reward the same, maybe you change the routine to standing up to stretch, for example. You might have a hard time making the switch to stretching every time you have the urge to check your phone, but after a week or two, that awkward feeling will go away and standing up to stretch will be your new normal.
Think about your own existing habits. What’s the cue? What’s the reward? What routine can you replace your existing routine with?
This works with creating habits too. Let’s say you want to go to the gym every morning at 5am.
Your trigger might be that you put your clothes next to your bed and your shoes on the floor so as soon as you get out of bed, you are forced to look at them.
To take it a step further, you might even move your alarm across the room so that you’re forced to get up to turn it off and step over your gym stuff.
The routine is the workout and your reward will be that you feel good after your workout.
What habits would you like to create?
How can you use the habit loop to help you?
Discipline Is Only Temporary
A lot of times, when someone is experiencing great success, it’s very easy to think that they’re lucky or they’re naturally ‘like that’ or that they have so much discipline.
The reality is that discipline is only necessary until it becomes a habit.
Think about brushing your teeth for a second – how much effort does that take? Not a whole lot.
It’s just what you do.
Once habit kicks in, it will feel weird not to do it.
On the opposite hand, bad habits steal your dreams one ‘I don’t feel like it’ at a time.
Waiting for inspiration to strike is the fastest way to end up 65 years old, wondering why you never pursued your passions. Inspiration is for amateurs.
The compound effect is doing it even when you don’t feel like it, just because you’re supposed to do it.
You may not see results right away and that’s ok.
It didn’t take you seven days to get to where you are in your life, it’s not going to take you seven days to get to where you’re going either.
Here’s another way to look at it: if you had everything you wanted right now and got it easy, you would be bored with life and you would never grow.
The struggle of getting there is going to be what makes you the amazing person that you’ll end up being.
How To Change Old Habits + Develop New Ones
Go Back To Your Big Why
Change is really uncomfortable because our brains don’t like change.
If we’re going to force ourselves to make changes, we’re going to have to have a reason big enough to be more powerful than the ‘I don’t feel like it’ feeling.
Want to know the secret?
Grab the Empire Builder Pass to get the full length version of this post and you’ll learn:
- How to change old habits + develop new ones
- Change the way you talk to yourself
- Visualize your habits to increase your success
Grab the Empire Builder Pass here 👇