When you’re making changes in your life, it’s not just building willpower and repeating something every day until it sticks. It’s taking a look at all the activities and people in your life and changing these sources of influence to better support you.
One of my favorite books on habits is Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.
It looks at six sources of influence and how they impact your life.
Let’s start with willpower. Have you heard of the Marshmallow Experiment? The one where kids are told to sit in front of a marshmallow. If they can go 15 minutes without eating it, they get a second one? The kids who were able to delay gratification of eating that marshmallow were shown to be more successful in life.
Most people assume that means the kids simply had more willpower. But that is far from the truth. The kids who were able to delay gratification had skills that helped them. Skills that we can all learn.
This means that your struggle to get up early every day, stop eating chocolate, or stop shopping at the $1 bins at Target has very little to do with willpower. When we blame our failures on willpower, we ignore all of the influences around us that impact our ability.
We try the latest fad to lose weight (it doesn’t stick). We follow the KonMari method of organizing and get rid of everything that doesn’t bring us joy (then go out and buy more stuff). We wonder if we’re ever going to stop procrastinating or reach any of our big life goals because we can’t seem to get a handle on our to-do list.
One thing that’s missing here is that everyone is different. What works for you might not work for someone else. We need to try things, see what works and tweak where necessary. We need to constantly examine what we’re doing.
Be The Scientist and The Experiment
Try being both the scientist and the experiment in your life. Start thinking about the behaviors you want to change. Where do you struggle?
Answer the questions below. These answers will help you on this journey.
- What are your crucial moments? Where is it that you fall short of your goals?
- These moments may be physical, emotional, or involve certain people or places.
- Start becoming aware of these moments.
- What are your vital behaviors? What actions do you want to take when you are in a crucial moment?
- These actions or guidelines help influence your behavior.
Keep reading about these ideas here.
If you want help with building new habits in your life, contact me!