“You are what you repeatedly do”
Control or Be Controlled: It’s Your Choice
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit claims nearly half of every decision we make each day is an automatic decision driven by habits. Some, like James Clear, author of Atomic Habits speculate it’s even higher than that!
While many of us feel in control of the decisions we make each day, it’s often the case that most of our decisions have already been made and the actions we take are driven out of habit. Some habits are good, some habits are bad, and some habits are destructive. You can either learn how to control your habits, or be controlled by them. The choice is up to you.
And while it might not seem like a big deal, understanding your habits and how to change them will impact your life in ways you can’t even imagine. Learning how to master your habits is like learning how to set cruise control on your success ship and ride to dream town on autopilot.
Time’s Up. Game over 👎
At the end of the day, every person on this Earth has been given the same amount of time each day. How you choose to spend that time is up to you.
While there’s no one path to success, there are certainly paths that align with your values and goals and there are paths that don’t. It simply comes down to what you want to achieve in your lifetime. So have an honest conversation with yourself. Ask yourself if each day you’re moving closer to your goals, or not.
It’s a simple question, and one you often don’t want to ask but it’s one that needs to be asked if you want to feel happy and satisfied with your life. Because when you’re able to align your habits with your dreams, they’ll ultimately come true.
From the Spark come the Flame. From the Flame comes the Inferno.
Before you’re able to dive into this process, it’s really important for you to have clarity on what it is you want your life to look like. Because if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.
If you’ve never thought about this before, or if it’s been a while, I don’t want you to read any further because it won’t do you any good. Without clarity on where you’re headed, nothing I’m going to talk about in the coming pages is going to do you any good.
Inside each one of us is a spark of passion that given the right conditions will turn into a flame. And if you nurture that flame and fuel it with all the right ingredients, it will transform into an unstoppable inferno. An inferno so bright, so strong, so powerful, that people can feel your passion from miles away.
The Good, the Bad, and the Destructive.
A Habit is an unconscious action triggered to satisfy a desire for a reward.
There are 3 kinds of habits: Good Habits, Bad Habits, and Destructive Habits.
Good Habits move you closer towards your goals.
Bad Habits do not.
Destructive Habits cause harm to yourself or those around you.
Set your success on autopilot and crush your goals without breaking a sweat
The goal is to fill your life with as many good habits as you possibly can. In order to do that, you must have a clear vision for what you want your life to look like. You must understand your why, your purpose, your passion, your calling.
Whatever you want to call it, you must define it, and own it. If you don’t know where you’re headed, any road will take you there and you won’t know when you’ve arrived.
But when you’re locked onto the bigger picture and you know exactly where you want to go, you can design habits that help you get there easily and effortlessly.
That’s because when designed properly, habits run on autopilot and move you closer and closer towards your goals without breaking a sweat. You no longer have to stress about what to do next. You just do it! It’s automatic! You save your energy for the important things in life like family and friends. You can focus your energy on being present and focused and offering your best self to each situation rather than being drained and worn out by the end of the day.
Success leads to more success and when you can build habits that breed success, it’s only a matter of time until you accomplish all your goals.
Become the architect of your own life and build the future you dream of
I truly believe the most powerful skill you can acquire in life is the mastery of habits. Mastering habits is like pressing the turbo boost button, launching you on a whole new trajectory and then setting the cruise control to automatically generate the success you want in your life.
But before you can become the master of your habits and set the cruise control on your success ship, there’s one obstacle you need to overcome.
Fail to overcome this one obstacle and be forced to stay stuck where you are for the rest of your life (or worse…)
Even if you’re crystal clear on where you’re headed and what you want your life to look like, it’s no guarantee you’ll get there. Not if you can’t master your habits and it’s impossible to master your habits without first becoming aware.
It sounds simple enough but as with anything simple, it’s usually not easy.
Being aware of…
- why you act the way you do
- why you make the decisions you do
- why you believe what you believe
…and being willing and open to change them are the most important skills anyone can acquire in their lifetime. Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain an idea without accepting it.”
To go down this road, you have to be willing to have honest conversations with yourself, question the things you hold nearest to you, and be willing to change if it means moving you closer to living the life you dream of living.
There’s no such thing as tomorrow!
It’s often said that depression is from living in the past and anxiety is from being focused on the future. The secret lies in the present moment. Because at the end of the day, there’s no such thing as tomorrow. There is only right here, right now.
And where most people get stuck is believing that tomorrow, a new version of themselves is magically going to show up and make all the tough decisions and do the hard things that the “yesterdays” version of themselves wasn’t able to do.
I mean, let’s be honest. How many times have you said, “I’ll do it tomorrow” and never actually did it! I get it! We’ve all been there. So, what’s the secret?
Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of stressing over each decision, you just did it? Well in a sense, that’s what you already do! You just don’t know you do.
Humans hate uncertainty. We hate not knowing what’s..
Humans are programmed to follow the path of least resistance. When presented with two choices, we tend to choose the one that’s easier. That’s just how we’re wired.
There is however a way to override this…
We tend to make the easiest choice, and the easiest choice tends to be the one we made yesterday.
That’s because one thing we hate more than doing difficult things, is uncertainty. Continually making the same decisions often leads to a predictable result which makes us feel comfortable and in control.
This is how habits form in the first place. We repeat behaviors because we can predict the outcome. We know what to expect. And oftentimes, these habits form without us really being aware of them.
That’s why on the first day at your new job you chose a parking space that you’ve been parking in every day now for the last 3 years.
That’s why you always order “the usual” for lunch instead of trying something new. You know what you like, and you don’t want to risk disappointment. “The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know.”
The stress and uncertainty that comes from the unknown causes most of us to default to our typical ways. That is of course unless we’re aware of our actions and willing to change them to better align with our greater purpose.
The most powerful skill you can acquire is absolutely free
Enter the Habit Loop. The Habit Loop is a simple way of understanding the patterns that form your habits. Good habits, bad habits, and destructive habits all follow this same self-reinforcing cycle.
At the heart of it all, habits are made up of 4 components: Triggers, Desires, Actions, and Rewards
You know how every time you feel your phone vibrate in your pocket you get that urge to check your phone? That’s a trigger.
Triggers set off a chain reaction. When you’re triggered, you start to feel an uncontrollable desire, a craving if you will. Many of us will feel unsettled and restless to some degree or another until we satisfy that desire.
In this example, the desire is to check your phone. After all, it just vibrated in your pocket. It must be something important right? Maybe not.. But what if it is!? What if it’s the boss, or your spouse? What if your child is in trouble? That burning desire to know must be satisfied!
So you take action. You check your phone. You flip through your email, your social media, your texts. You see all those notification badges and you open every program and scroll through endless feeds and before you know it, 20 minutes have gone by. Why?
Well, that’s the reward! The reward for opening all those programs, for checking your texts, your social media profiles, your email, is closure. You know why your phone buzzed, you updated yourself on all the things you thought you were going to miss! You can now rest assured that no one has died, and 5 new people have liked that post of your dog!
This reinforces the cycle. Next time your phone buzzes, you’re going to repeat that cycle because every time your phone buzzes or rings, you’re triggered into thinking you’re about to miss something important. So, you check all your notifications, get a little hit of chemical pleasure, and have closure as you complete the loop.
How to Break the Cycle and Set Cruise Control on your Success Ship
Like we talked about earlier, the key to breaking the cycle is awareness. Now that you understand how habits are formed and what the cycle looks like, you can take an honest look at your life and decide whether your habits are moving you closer to your goals or not.
And remember, just because a habit isn’t destructive, doesn’t mean it’s good. Good habits by their very nature move you closer towards your goals. Bad habits waste time.
It’s easiest to focus on changing one habit at a time than many all at once, but it starts with understanding all of your habits and looking at them from a 10,000 foot view so you can better understand how they are interrelated and finding the one domino that when tipped over, starts a chain reaction that makes it easier to capitalize on your momentum.
ACTION ITEM #1 – Make a list of ALL your habits. This might take a few days as new habits you forgot about will pop into your head and that’s of course because habits have a sneaky way of becoming invisible. But now that you’re aware and on the lookout for them, you’ll stop them, even when they’re trying to hide from you.
At this point, don’t try and change your habits. That won’t do you any good, at least not yet. Instead, simply be aware of them. When you’re doing something out of habit, ask yourself a few questions…
- Why am I doing this?
- What triggered me?
- What desire am I trying to satisfy?
- How would I feel if I stopped right now?
- Is this habit moving me closer towards my goals?
Simply being aware is proven in studies to help people break their habits. Here’s a great TED Talk on the subject.
ACTION ITEM #2 – Now that a few days have gone by and you’ve made a list of all your habits, it’s time to categorize them. Based on the big picture goals you have in life, classify each habit as good, bad, or destructive. You can use different colored pens or highlighters or even make a spreadsheet and color code them is you’re so inclined, or a simple pen and paper in black and white is good enough. It’s up to you.
Once you have your list, take a good look. What habits do you feel deeply connected to? By deeply connected to I mean the ones that seem to define who you are. I call these defining habits. “I’m the kind of person who _____ (insert habit).” “I always _____ because I’m the kind of person who does that.”
Defining habits have the most leverage. They are the hardest to change but also the ones that seem to launch you into the stratosphere when you can conquer them.
In an ideal world, every habit on your list is a good habit that defines you, although when you first go through this exercise, I doubt that’s going to be the case. There are likely going to be many habits that you want to change or get rid of and that’s ok, because at this point, we’re still building awareness. Simply go through the exercise, write them all down, classify them, and make special note of the ones that define you. We’ll cover how to conquer them in a minute.
ACTION ITEM #3 – While you’re looking at this list of your habits, ask yourself, which of these habits are related to each other? Do any of these habits seem to trigger others?
For example, when you come home from work do you immediately kick off your shoes and lay on the couch? Does lying on the couch lead to binge watching your favorite shows on Netflix? Does binge watching lead to eating bad food? Does a stomach full of bad food lead to poor sleep which leads to you waking up tired the next morning which leads to a lack of willpower to make good decisions throughout the day which leads to an urge to simply get home, kick off your shoes, and lay on the couch?
This is known as Habit Stacking, a powerful concept that you can either learn to control, or let it control you! I’ll teach you how to tap into its power in a minute, but for now, simply group the habits on your list together and be aware of any trends or patterns you might find.
Grab the wheel and captain your own success ship. To infinity and beyond!
Now it’s time to start making some changes. You’ve gone through your list and written down all your habits. You’ve also classified them according to whether they’re good, bad, or destructive, you’ve identified which ones seem to define you, you have an understanding of how they’re intertwined, and now you’re ready to make some changes to your life.
While I’d love for you to start changing your destructive habits right away, and it might seem logical to start there, that’s usually not the best place to start. Destructive habits are tricky to tackle head on and often lead to discouragement when you don’t see success right away, or worse, when you fall into your old ways.
Destructive habits require an indirect approach, so for now, I want you to be aware of your destructive habits, but don’t worry about them quite yet. Once you master what I’m about to teach you, your destructive habits will seem to magically disappear as a byproduct of your new efforts.
I want you to think about a large goal. Something that seems almost unachievable but is still realistic and can be accomplished. To use a personal example, I recently set a goal to do 10,000 burpees in 60 days.
A burpee is an exercise where you lower your body into a squat, place your hands on the ground, pop your feet out into a plank, lower your body all the way to the ground, do a pushup, pop back up to a squat, and jump in the air with your hands above your head. For many, the burpee is a dreaded exercise and doing 10,000 of them seems impossible but for me, I knew I could do it if I simply broke it down and showed up every day.
The key here is something known as a micro-habit. A micro-habit is the smallest variation of the big goal you’re trying to accomplish. Like Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 10,000 burpees begins with 1. Running a marathon starts with putting on your running shoes. Shooting under par starts by hitting your drive on the first tee.
To reach the end goal, you need to ask yourself what it will take to simply show up each and every day. My goal didn’t start as 10,000 burpees in 60 days. If it had, I probably would’ve quit on it. My goal started as 5,000 burpees in 47 days. Still a lofty goal but I knew I could do 107 burpees a day for 47 days. It would suck, but I could do it.
Survival of the Fittest
Before the days of “survival of everyone” were the days of survival of the fittest. If you weren’t able to keep up, adapt, evolve, and compete, you died, plain and simple. Luckily, life isn’t so “eat or be eaten” any more but we’ve still retained the ability to adapt and grow.
After the first few days of doing 107 burpees each day, I was sore. And I mean sore! This coming from a guy who has built his career on Mobility and Fitness and has worked with some of the best athletes. It took me by surprise but at the end of the day, what are you going to do about it?!
So rather than give up, I kept going. For 5 days, I could barely move my arms. It took me 20 minutes just to get warmed up to the point where I could start my burpees and even then, the first 20-30 were rough. But then something magical happened.
On day 6, not only was all the pain magically gone, but I felt amazing! The first 50 burpees were a breeze. I didn’t even break a sweat. So on day 7 I decided I might as well do 110 burpees each day because I liked the number better. Then after day 22 I had an idea.
I had just gotten off a series of phone calls with my clients from all around the world and every one of them was sharing their wins for the week and how they had been overcoming their struggles and pushing past their limiting beliefs. It fired me up! It reminded me about why I started the burpees in the first place. It wasn’t about the number. It was about doing something challenging and becoming better for it.
So, I had an honest conversation with myself and 110 burpees honestly wasn’t that hard anymore. I did the math and realized if I did 200 burpees every day, I’d hit 10,002 burpees on day 60. So, I committed!
I say all of this not to brag, but to get you to understand that it doesn’t matter what your goal is or where you’re starting from. Everyone starts from somewhere. What’s important is you stack the deck in your favor. You show up each day. You do something difficult and work for it. You prove to yourself you can do it. You build momentum. And before you know it, you’re an entirely different person, doing things you never thought possible.
It all comes back to having clarity on your why. It comes back to embracing that spark and turning it into a flame then nurturing that flame until it becomes an inferno.
The Formula (you can use your notes on the test 😉)
The Mobilitas Method happened almost accidentally. Throughout my career I’ve always been looking for ways to perform at my highest level. I’ve always tinkered with habit optimization and finding ways to push myself beyond what I was capable of yesterday so I can lead by example and show those that I work with that I’m not afraid to put in the work and practice what I preach.
Like anyone, I’ve dealt with my fair share of depression, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and lack of confidence. What I discovered is that when I’m feeling down, if I follow a specific process, I come out the other side on top, better than before, every single time.
Mindset | Wellness | Mobility | Fitness | Performance
The Mobilitas Method was simply the natural byproduct to help me get out of a rut. I’ve helped hundreds of others apply it in their own lives, and the results duplicate time and time again.
It’s not always easy to show up every day and do something hard, to challenge yourself, to willingly experience and put yourself through pain. But I know I’m better off for it and so I’ve built a habit around the pillars that I teach and they reinforce themselves. Showing up each day and doing something difficult is just what I do, and you can do the same for your life when you understand how to tap into the habit loop and design your defining habits.
Imperfect Action is Better than Perfect Inaction
Start with the action you want to take or change. In my case, I wanted to do burpees every day. For you it could be working on your putting every day or making sales calls to help push your career forward. It doesn’t really matter what the action is so long as it leads to a good habit that moves the needle forward.
Then design a reward for yourself. In my case, it was a nutritious, delicious, energizing and rejuvenating protein shake. (You can tell just by reading this that I love it!) This is often overlooked and one of the reasons people fail when changing their habits. Immediate gratification is important at first and over time you can delay the gratification until you’ve completed your habit stack. (More on that in a minute).
Now, the desire has been set. I WANT that protein shake! But I don’t allow myself to have it until I’ve done my burpees. It’s important to treat this as law. Under no circumstance are you allowed to reward yourself if you haven’t done the work.
Lastly, you need a trigger! In my case, the trigger was my tripod. Whenever I saw my tripod sitting in the middle of the room, it triggered me to set up my camera and film myself doing burpees. Make it obvious and convenient so it becomes automatic.
Like any good thrill movie, come ready with a backup plan
Now this Habit Loop that I created for myself was plenty fine. It had all the elements it needed to work. And for many habits I’ve created for myself, this would have been plenty. But in this case, because my goal was so outlandishly large, and it would be so easy to quit or just skip a day, I needed a backup plan.
It’s ALWAYS best to reward yourself positively for taking action. But as a backup plan, and only when a positive reward has first been put in place, a negative punishment can be added to the mix.
In my case, it was social accountability. Accountability is the one piece of the equation that nearly everyone forgets to consider when embarking on new changes, learning new skills, or entering a coaching program. While it’s great to be self-motivated all the time, the truth is, no one is always motivated all the time and sometimes the only way to show up and get the work done is to have someone holding you accountable.
Every day I needed to post a time-lapse video of my burpees on social media. If I missed a day, everyone would notice, AND I wouldn’t be allowed to have my shake! And trust me, there were many days when the thought of that shake and the humiliation of missing a day were the only reasons I showed up and did the work. Sure, the days where I felt intrinsically motivated were great, but sometimes, you just need to show up and do the work. That’s how habits are made, and champions are forged.
Once you pop, the fun don’t stop
Now hear me out real quick. I am by no means telling you that you need to do 200 burpees every day for months. That’s just flat out not realistic for most people. I did it because I’ve been training and conditioning my body and mind for over a decade and it was something that made sense for ME.
It was outlandish, but not impossible, and I had done a lot of work up to that point to be ready and able to take on such a challenge.
The idea is to start small, and accomplish whatever goal you set for yourself. Day, after day, after day, after day, until it’s no longer a struggle and you show up automatically. It’s just who you are and what you do. That’s a habit!
Once the habit is formed however, that’s the time to add new layers by doing something called Habit Stacking. Habit Stacking takes the momentum accomplished from one habit and uses it to complete another. And the stack can be built as tall as you want.
For example, once I was done with my burpees, I immediately made my shake as my reward. And once my shake was made, I drank it while working on some mobility exercises to improve my range of motion. After I was done improving my range of motion, I would make a piece of content for my followers or for the clients in my coaching program because I was in a peak state of mind and ready to share the wisdom and motivation that can only come from doing the work.
After creating content, I’d work on growing my business, creating new opportunities, and connecting new dots. And at the end of the day, I’d have a great nutritious dinner and finish the evening by reading a book, meditating and reflecting on the day, or journaling and preparing for the next day.
I don’t say any of this to brag. I say all of this because it’s exactly how I want my day to look. I designed it that way for maximum pleasure and productivity. It took time of adding layer upon layer until the end result was a daily routine designed from sun up to sun down exactly how I want it to be. Let the reward from one habit become the trigger for the next and the possibilities become endless.
It’s not the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s the spark of a new idea!
When you live this way and design your life to be exactly how you want it to be, there’s no such thing as done. Life will never be perfect. It will never be complete.
That’s because once you unlock the power of habits and become the master of your own destiny, you unlock something very powerful deep inside your soul. You realize your true potential. You go from thinking, yeah that would be nice, to accomplishing and achieving it. Then you start thinking, well if I can do that, what else can I do?
Learning to control your habits unlocks your power and makes you realize that you have unlimited potential. You can do anything you set your mind to and the only thing that’s holding you back is yourself.
When this shift begins to happen, there’s a change in your identity. You internally shift the image of who you are and what you’re capable of. And when you’re able to shift your identity, that’s when the destructive habits start to fall.
You’re no longer the kind of person who (fill in the blank). Now you’re the kind of person who… you get the idea.
So ask yourself, what kind of person do you want to be? Because only when you’re locked onto the vision as the end of the tunnel will you spark a new idea that will take you on a journey you could’ve never imagined taking unless you knew how to control your habits, your life, your destiny.
MOVE BETTER – PLAY BETTER