How to use Awareness and Will Power, to start a new habit that will lead to greater productivity and personal satisfaction. How to design your life to use this model for enduring success.
This model is the most powerful concept I’ve ever learned when it comes to productivity and getting the most out of yourself. It’s called Habit Formation, and it’s a synthesis between Zen and Systems Thinking. Weird, I know. The most important and powerful state we can be in is
the state called Awareness.
Awareness is when we remember we’re alive. We zoom out for a second and see the bigger picture. Imagine you get in a major car accident, and it shocks you so much that you call up all the people you love and tell them you love them. That’s Awareness.
The rarest and most precious form of ENERGY we have is Will Power. We get a tiny bit of it each day, and we often waste it on things that aren’t that important (like holding back our true emotions). Now, it takes about twenty-one days to form a new habit. If you do something every day, it’ll take on a life of its own after twenty-one days.
Days 1-7 is the first phase. I call it Defying Inertia. Inertia is the innate resistance to change. Everything inside you will tell you, “No, I don’t want to do that!”
Days 8-14 is the second phase. I call it Resistance. You’re no longer defiant, but you still have to push through. You don’t naturally feel like doing it yet.
Days 15-21is the third phase. I call it Acclimation. The resistance starts going away, and it begins to feel like what you are doing is the natural thing to do.
Here’s how this ties back to Awareness and Will Power. When we get some Awareness and Will Power, we can use them to start or develop a new habit (what I call a Routine). That way, twenty-one days later it’ll have a life of its own, and you won’t need more Awareness or Will Power to keep it going.
Then, the next time you get Awareness or Will Power, use them to start a NEW habit, and repeat the cycle. When you do, you’ll become so productive you won’t even believe it.
The goal is to work in a way that creates not only great results but also satisfaction and enjoyment for us. We don’t need to become robots that just produce results, but we also don’t need to get swept away by things that give us immediate pleasure but cost us results we’d proud of having, that make a difference in our life.
Another important element that’s often overlooked is that it’s the TRANSITIONS that often trip us up. If you want to start going to the gym, you have to plan for the ‘on ramp’. If you don’t, and spend time looking for your clothes, shoes, or keys, your time gets cut short, causing you to fail before you even get started. The same goes for your ‘off ramp’ when you get done working out and re-join your track for the rest of your day.
Planning for these ramps will increase the chance that the new ritual will stick, and reduce your anxiety and sense of ‘rushing’. Most people who are trying to learn a new habit or ritual use Will Power to move through it. If you do so, you will probably find that after half an hour or an hour, you are exhausted. The moment you are exhausted, you will go back to your former habits because there is simply no more energy left. After a few days of this, you will conclude that you are incapable of learning a new habit.
I once saw a lady in my practice who wanted to learn three new habits at the same time. I explained to her that she was setting herself up to fail. Those entrepreneurs I work with who get this point go on to design very effective work schedules.
The quality aspect of focus is WHAT you are focusing on. For example, the outcome you want rather than just the work in front of you. Additionally, as we build our ability to focus on just one thing at a time, we want to work on our ability to focus for longer and longer periods of time. That’s the quantity aspect. Right now, how long can you work on one thing at a time before you go check your email or voicemail?
And how many different things do you focus on during the day?
We want to work our way up to focus for a full forty-five minutes on just one thing. Most people don’t focus on one thing long enough to get big results. We want to fix that.
In life, we have a few leverage points that can give us tremendous results. These are things we usually have to be proactive about, to go and get done. These include things such as educating ourselves, working out, etc. You must be the one to decide to do these things. If you have a business, there are just a few places where most of the leverage exists.
The same goes for your relationships and health. Most times when someone starts something and they cannot carry on or they procrastinate, it’s either because they don’t know how or they have unmet emotional needs.
I have found that when you can break something down to fifteen-minute chunks, it becomes something that you can do.
The converse of the above is that if you cannot break down a project into doable fifteen-minute chunks, you cannot even start the project. I have written twenty books, published about ten of them, and developed new business projects using this rule.
When I cannot provide chapter headings for the main ten or twelve chapters of the book in fifteen minutes, I know I am not ready to write the book.
When you don’t know how to do something, you simply need to learn how to do it. For example, you are supposed to balance your cheque book, but keep procrastinating. Finally, you can’t put it off any longer, but when you sit down to do it you don’t know what to do because your business manager who normally does it is now on vacation.
Simply having someone walk you through the steps once or twice would have solved the problem.
By learning to accept feedback and constructive criticism, you will be able to expand your thinking and become much more creative.
Part of setting good goals is thinking about how you will achieve them. The important part of the process is how you manage that change and how you can grow as a result.
You may choose to have an accountability partner. If you are doing the online coaching version of Freedom Formula, every time you have a coaching call you have the opportunity to be held accountable.
In order to get leverage if you just focused on three things, for forty-five minutes each, and did this every single day, what would those three things be? Make the list.
Next, what would the outcome be if you focused on each of these three things for the next three-five years. Write down the actions required for each of them.
Pause the audio for a while if you need to.
It’s important to focus on what you want to achieve, not on what you want to avoid. Your unconscious mind doesn’t know how to get rid of the “Don’t” part of a thought, so if you’re focused on the negative you’ll attract more of it into your life.
For example, if you say to yourself, “Don’t drink, don’t drink, don’t drink”, your unconscious minds hears “Drink… drink… drink.”
You may want to find out what you are really good at. You may have some ideas yourself, but you can also get objective feedback from people around you. Sometimes you may have taken on someone else’s idea of what you are good at. You may even have convinced yourself that you are good at something because your best friend or your father was good at that. So it’s important to be objective.
What do you enjoy or what would you enjoy given a chance? It’s important that you explore and discover what really excites you. So focus on achieving positive outcomes, not avoiding negative ones. At the same time, it’s important that you are honest with yourself about what you want more of in your life and what you want less of.
You may want to test different types of businesses or opportunities if you have not done so. Sometimes you may have some idealistic or romantic notions that may not stand the test of time. You may want to do a medical degree because you want to help others. You start on a medical course then discover that you cannot stand the idea of drawing blood.
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On this podcast I’m going to help you design a life that works. So you are able to say yes to the things that matter and eliminate everything else that slows you down. The more clear you can be about how to organise your daily life to support your bigger vision, the more you’ll step into your true potential, stay on track and accomplish all that you want and deserve. Are you ready to make that happen?
Feel free to reach out to me to ask your questions at AskDrSun.com. Your life is a gift. Design it. Do what matters and join me each week as we get closer to designing the life of your dreams. I am Dr Sun. Join me next week on Your Life by Design.