This time of year always prompts calls to make resolutions, create a vision board, give-up a bad habit, or pursue work-life balance. Regardless of what time of year you decide to make a change to improve your health, wealth, relationships or career, there are specific steps you’ll need to take to ensure success. This week, I’ll be sharing with you just that: 12 steps you can take for positive change in your life; developed through decades of experience as a clinical hypnotherapist and profiler. Today, we’re looking at the first three steps: resetting your mindset, understanding your personality, and managing your energy.
Tip One: Mindsets
It all starts with how we think. Before you can change anything, you need to figure out where you are right now. Start out by doing an audit of your dominant patterns, habits and mindsets. You might want to talk to a close friend or family member about your patterns, as these can be so unconscious that we don’t realise we are engaging in them. Once you’ve completed the audit, you can make decisions to prioritise what you want to change or improve. My first key principle of habit change is to understand the mindset behind a habit or pattern. Our mindset is made up of a set of mind-maps. Mind-maps are patterns of brain and body resource usage that incorporate every step of the habit – these mind-maps allow habits or beliefs to become ingrained and automatic. Mind-maps often start out as productive ways to make an action easier but can become self-defeating and may even damage our health or relationships. For example If we want to change a negative mindset that drives smoking, then we need to address the habitual mind-maps associated with it.
In order to change any habit, the brain needs to re-wire the map associated with the behavior, and lay down new maps to replace the behavior. It’s the same when we want to achieve a goal we haven’t mastered before. Here’s how to help your brain do this:
Ideas Into Action:
1. Reward the goal
The key message here is: attach a reward to your new habit or goal. Make the reward personal and motivating, something that brings a smile to your face every time you think about it. Our cells respond to pleasure even more than pain – use this to your advantage. To illustrate using the example above, smoking, the new habit would be to get through the day without smoking. To reward this behaviour, the money saved by not smoking each day could be placed into a reward jar. Witnessing the amount accumulate each week will motivate you to get through each day without smoking, particularly when the savings are attached to an ultimate reward, such as buying yourself a gift. Placing a picture of the ultimate reward, such as a holiday, on the jar reinforces the new behaviour of not smoking and strengthens the mind-map that supports it so that together they may form a new habit.
2. Write it down
Write your new habit or goal down as if it is already achieved. This is one of the most important steps in setting goals that stick. Write your goal down in the present tense, as if it is already achieved, and you are expressing your gratitude (to yourself) for sticking to it. This kind of goal is called an affirmation – it literally affirms the intent of your goal. Regularly reminding yourself of your intention refocuses your attention and efforts towards making this goal a reality.
3. Use emotive language in present tense
Your affirmation needs to use emotive language that feels good to you – it needs to paint a picture in words of how you’ll feel, and how life will be when this goal is achieved. Each affirmation must only include one goal. You can have multiple affirmations, but each one needs to be goal specific.
Here’s an example of an affirmation I wrote for a client who wanted to make better food choices and exercise in order to lose weight and stay healthy. This is a fitness-oriented goal:
“I am slim and slender, lean and fit. Every day I nourish myself with healthy food choices, pure water, and fresh air. I enjoy exercising because I love the benefits it provides to my body, and it feels so good to be fit and full of energy. I honour my body through every choice I make throughout my day and give thanks for this amazing body I have been given. I am slim and slender, lean and fit.”
Emotive language charges up your cells, which switches on your nervous system to help you achieve your goal.
4. Say it out loud often
You need to say your affirmation out loud – about 10 times a day if you can manage it, and for about 30 days. It takes about 28 days for a new habit to be locked in – so I say 30 days to be safe.
Read your affirmation with energy and passion. Even if you feel it isn’t true or can’t be true – read it as if it already is. Your subconscious mind lives in an eternal present – so it gives priority to things that are immediate, rather than future time. Writing your affirmation and reciting it, as if it is already a reality, now – will make it a priority, or command, for the subconscious mind. This is why wishing and hoping doesn’t work – they both put the things you want into future time – which never comes.
Your cells are listening to you. Within your DNA are the codes to make this goal a reality – you just need to give your cells the command to open the right book in your DNA library.
5. Visualise the goal using all your senses
The next step is to visualise the new habit, and see yourself achieving the goal. Close your eyes and allow your mind to wander forward to a time when you have mastered this goal, changed the habit and reclaimed this part of your life. Imagine in detail how good it feels, what it will look like, sound like, or even taste like. Collect pictures from magazines of people who have achieved this goal and put them in a scrapbook or poster/vision board.
Your cells and subconscious mind will turn this daydream into a program if you do it often enough. Eventually the new program will replace any older, outdated behavioral programs.
6. Break the goal down into steps – actions that you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be
It’s not enough to want something; we must align our actions to our intent. The more you do this, the quicker your goal will be achieved, and the more permanent the change. Work out what people who have achieved this goal do – read about them, talk to them, get a coach, whatever you need to break the goal down into steps that you can approach one, by one. Make these behaviors part of your day. Repeat them every day for 30 days to lock them in. That’s when they become a habit.
When you were a toddler, you watched the older kids and adults walk and learned to walk by mimicking – taking one step, then another. Over time this turned into walking, and eventually running. All goals need to be approached the same way, so your nervous system can learn, become familiar with the steps, and eventually make them unconscious – or second nature; turning them into unconscious mind-maps to drive the wanted behaviour and replace the unwanted maps.
7. Enjoy the reward
Once you’ve reached your first milestone – celebrate. Take the reward you planned and write a new affirmation thanking yourself for the steps you’ve taken to get you there. As you enjoy the reward, keep associating the pleasure with the new behavior – i.e. not smoking, eating more healthily, exercising, saving money, being more organized, listening actively, delegating tasks etc.
Remember the pleasure principle is a very powerful biological and psychological driver.
8. Stay vigilant
My last tip is to remember to never get cocky about old behaviors. If you’ve given up smoking, don’t think you can have one and it will be okay. The old behaviors don’t need much encouragement to rear their ugly heads. It’s much easier to stay ‘on the wagon’ than to fall off and have to climb back on. However, if you do slip and fall back into old habits – revisit the 8 steps above, and if you need to, get the assistance of a mentor, coach, or therapist.
Tip Two: Personality
In order to be a better manager, team leader, innovator, parent, or partner, it’s important to understand how the people around you think, and why they behave the way they do. It is also critical that you become consciously aware of your own personality preferences, so that you can rise above your own ‘way’ of approaching a situation and understand that there may be several ways a situation can be handled. By understanding your own personality preferences and the personality preferences of the people around you, you can begin to understand how to better relate to others, and utilse their strengths to improve relationships, performance, and productivity. Here are some tips to help you understand the four major dichotomies or categories of personality:
Ideas Into Action:
- Where do you get your emotional energy?
Extraverts boost their energy by spending time with others, talking, and doing stuff. If they have to work alone for any length of time, they will start making phone-calls or walking the halls trying to find someone to talk their ideas through with. They do not work well in a vacuum. Extraverts like to think out loud, and draft their ideas as they speak.
Introverts on the other hand are de-energized by the above. They gain energy through reflection, time alone, and quiet. They hate to express their ideas before they are fully thought through and find being in groups where there is a lot of talking quite overwhelming.
Of course, we all have aspects of introversion and extraversion within our personality, however knowing which of these preferences is more dominant in your personality will help you to understand why other people don’t always express themselves in the same way, and why one friend or work-mate needs to brain storm in a group, while another will go away and work on a problem quietly until they have come up with a solution they are happy with to share.
- Where do you put your focus?
The second dichotomy in understanding personality is all about focus.
People focused individuals will be focused on the interpersonal outcomes of any situation. They are focused on feelings, collaboration, consensus and making sure people’s needs are met.
On the other hand, task focused individuals will be focused on goal centered outcomes. They will see their role as ensuring the task is completed effectively, and that sticking to an agenda, and achieving the goal on time and within budget will achieve the fairest outcome.
The difference between these two personality styles often leads to misunderstanding or conflict in the workplace and relationships. Both personality styles care about what happens to people and getting the job done, it’s just that their focus preference means while one wants to ensure everyone’s needs are taken care of, the other wants to ensure the job is done so everyone keeps their job.
Once we understand our own focus, we can start to comprehend why team members may take a completely different approach to us, and we can begin to see that both styles are valid. In fact, co-operation between these different personality preferences leads to far superior outcomes than relying on one at the exclusion of the other.
Tip Three: Energy Input
A huge part of understanding our energy inputs is paying attention to what we consume in the way of food, beverages, and substances. But it is also about being aware of the non-tangible energy influences in our lives.
Ask yourself, how can you better manage the influences around you? Pressures from the media and people in your life? Do you find yourself anxious or de-energised after watching the news, or uncomfortable and off-put by gossip on social media? Be open to discovering their effects on you and learn how to protect yourself from being drained by them.
Ideas Into Action:
- Do you have a healthy breakfast each day?
Our body is at its most efficient in the morning and making breakfast our biggest meal of the day has been shown to promote stable energy levels over the course of the day, while also being better for our waistlines than a large meal at dinnertime. When we don’t have enough fuel in the tank, we can’t perform at our best and show up for all the things that we need to: work, family, friends, and ourselves. So, be sure to prioritise a substantial, healthy breakfast each day to set yourself up for success.
- Do you keep a water bottle handy?
Your brain functions at its best when it is well hydrated. Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated? And it’s not just your brain, all your organs and even your spine suffers when you are dehydrated. To have more energy, reach for water!
- Do you limit screentime?
More studies are revealing that lots of time spent in front of screens is harmful for us. An interesting fact is that we burn more calories when we sleep than when we are using a screen. Our metabolism shuts down when we are glued to the television, and we are more likely to consume alcohol and empty carbohydrates while watching TV because we go into a type of brain fog and are less aware of our actions. It is not just our metabolism that suffers, however. Our DNA expression is actually adversely affected by negative content in the media we consume. So, get off the couch and get outside, soak up some sunlight, and increase your vitamin D levels to lift your energy and improve your immune function, metabolism, and cognitive performance.
In the next instalment of this series, we’ll explore energy deeper by considering energy output, energy charge, and energy modes and how these can be harnessed for creating positive change in your life.
Yours in wellness,
Elisabetta Faenza | Leafcann CEO