Many people believe that their goals are too far reaching to achieve. We resign to a certain position in life and settle. According to a “Statistic Brain Institute” survey only 9.2% of respondents reported success in achieving new goals.
What if settling isn’t how it’s going to be. If we’re here now, that doesn’t mean this is it forever. I recently went through this. Again.
Full stop. Everything. Everything was so heavy. I was so done. It was a year of pressure. Here I was, mid-30’s striving for success in all four corners of my life, and pushing too hard. This exact moment I pushed myself to attend a conference I knew I shouldn’t have. I was pushing myself to be at the hospital with my Dad more than the nurses were. I was making sure everyone else ate well except me. I told myself “one more thing”, “just one more day”. In reality I was spinning wheels and digging myself farther in as I went along.
I’m certain I could see the signs. I’d been there before. The thing is the voice saying “just one more” can get fairly pushy.
I’d aged 10 years in 1. My body felt heavy, because it was. I had gained an extra 20 lbs. A justifiable glass of red on an empty stomach (because I deserved it). Another pizza delivery (because I had no time). Are we the habits we have on repeat? My habits were beginning to look unfamiliar and destructive.
I’m an achiever you see. Coming from a more than modest upbringing I learned early on how to work towards getting what I wanted out of life. When I was a kid I had a glimpse of a high rise in the city and I said “This, I will have this when I grow up”. I did. I did everything I understood how to, and reached my goal. I would reach many more over the course of 3 decades. I’m an achiever. Yet, even I can recognize when I veer off track.
So where do those dreams go when we hit bumps in the road, stalls, or let’s face it our thirties, forties, fifties? The dreams are there, and ready for someone like us to knock em’ back into the game. We have decades of experience behind us, and we know what’s on the line if we don’t get those habits in check.
I’m not finished yet.
I woke up and saw my potential still there. A setback is not the finish line. It’s more like a pitstop. In 90 days I saw my own success strategies start to pay off.
It’s my belief that it doesn’t matter what the goal is. It matters that you know your goal.
There are four specific things that I did to kick many bad habits all at once. I hit the reset button to erase a year (or more) worth of them, and get me back on track. I’ve been thinking about this past summer, 90 days to be exact, like a reclamation of self. It was.
For transparency the specific goal that I focused on was (drum roll please), getting off sugar. I mean all sugar. No refined sugars, no fruit sugars, no gluten, no complex carbs…no alcohol.
On this 90 day journey I lost 20 lbs, found the fountain of youth, and have sights on future goal setting.
Contrary to the popular belief that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, science actually backs 2 months or more being the more accurate length of time. Give or take, because we’re all different.
I surpassed 90 days on this new sugar free lifestyle. Now, confident that my habits have become automatic, I don’t second guess myself at all. Success.
At least, this is my version of success. Not the weight loss (which there was). Not the wrinkles disappearing (which they did). Not me feeling beautiful and confident again (which I did). It was the 90 day mark of being consistent that did it. I did that. 90 days of consistency.
I’m committed, consistent, and I’ve changed. I wondered, was there science behind the core beliefs and habits that kept me on track?
Turns out there is.
Here’s what I did, and the science that backs it.
I lived like I had already achieved my goal (my new lifestyle). Taking ownership of my goal, by stating this was mine, this is how I live now. I “owned” it. That’s what worked.
This is called the “endowment effect”, it’s also known as “divestiture aversion” is related to the mere ownership in psychology. Beggan, J. (1992).
I owned my intention, ascribed value to it, by doing so became not willing to let it go. I would sacrifice (pay) more to stay the course of my goal. (Morewedge, Carey K.; Giblin, Colleen E. (2015)
I created accountability with my husband who also went on this journey, and with an online community. Apparently, this act of being accountable created my own winning culture and practice.
We can look to Accountability Lessons From the BlackHawks for this one.
By focusing on teamwork and accountability, the BlackHawks created a high performance winning culture. According to ASTD if we commit to an accountability partner we have a 95% higher chance of reaching the goal.
Use Apps for tracking and for reward. By tracking my progress in an easy to use App, I was rewarding myself with a dopamine hit. Think of my dopamine hit like the feeling I’d get from attaining the dangling carrot on a stick.
“The premise is simple: your body releases dopamine when you experience pleasure. This pleasure includes all kinds of things, including rewards.” via LifeHacker.com
By using my handheld tech, I knew I could log my progress and see my charts. That was the carrot. I was loving the “rush” of success.
I celebrated the small wins (a day, a week staying on track) so, I could celebrate the bigger wins 30 days, 60 days, 90 days.
Was I alone on this, or is there more behind the story of celebration being part of my success? Turns out I wasn’t alone. We can actually look at job performance and recognition for this one.
Respondents to APA “Employee Recognition Survey” reported higher levels of job satisfaction, a greater likelihood to work harder because of the recognition they receive, stronger motivation to do their best and a greater sense of feeling valued.
This is what my recognition of self (celebrating) did for me. I was working harder, I was more motivated, and I felt a great level of self pride and self value.
The 4 things I did to change my lifestyle around sugar, I believe can be 4 things to change any habit or to create new ones.
– Own Your Goal
– Be Accountable
– Track Your Progress (Using Apps)
– Celebrate Wins