My corporate job is very giving. They provide free snacks all day every day. The majority of the time they are healthy, but some days, they aren’t. Today as I walked into the office, I went straight to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle. I don’t drink nearly enough water and it’s constantly something I’m trying to work on. Filling up my water, I waited for the machine to finish as I glanced about and my eyes spotted something awesome. Pretzles. The ones with the little chunks of salt on them, I mindlessly took a handful, grabbed my water and went to my desk. It wasn’t until I was on the last of the salty snack that I caught myself thinking: 1. Why did I grab these in the first place? I ate breakfast, I’m not hungry – and 2. How is this the last one? Did I already eat the rest of them? Surely someone else must have taken them, because I do not remember eating all of them!! Does this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, maybe your mindless autopilot activities relate to something other than food. Ever bought a shirt because it was on sale and it looked cute, only to get home to put it in your closet to find you have to push clothes strategically to get it to fit and then you’re thinking… Why did I buy this, I don’t even truly need it. Or maybe you say “How are you?” to someone only to catch yourself mid conversation realizing you’re actually not listening? A lot of us function in many ways, on autopilot!
I didn’t make a CONSCIOUS choice to grab the pretzels, I just did, because I wasn’t THINKING. Autopilot isn’t always a bad thing, for example, when you get into a car do you consciously think, “Ok, now I need to grab the seatbelt and pull it across my body, and find the other end, and click it together, and adjust it so it doesn’t bother my neck and ok I’m ready.” No! You just pull the seat belt and lock it in place without really thinking about it! This is good, because the choices we made when we started putting the seatbelt on ourselves (once mom and dad started letting us do it!) created a HABIT. When we were young, we likely did think, ok time to put my seatbelt on, and go through the whole process, because it was new to us, but eventually a HABIT was created and has then turned our mind off of that particular event that most of us do a couple times a day. This is a GOOD habit, it’s when we let habits get created that sabotage our ultimate goals that we run into some trouble because now we’re on ‘sabotaging autopilot mode’ and that is not going to get you anywhere near success.
I am currently reading The Compound Effect, which I highly recommend! It talks about how creating healthy habits, not just healthy as in food and fitness related but even saving money or spending more quality time with your family, can lead you to a life of great success in different areas of your life!
- You first need to decide what success means to you, think small to begin with so you can get the feel for it. For me, I would achieve success with my hydration if for an entire month I drank my daily requirement of 2.5 liters of water. This seemed easy enough to say out loud, but I found myself ignoring water and sometimes would go a full day without a single DROP. Yikes!!
- Once you have decided what it is you want to do- you NEED to track it. I used a notepad application on my phone, though you are also welcome to use a REAL notebook and pen to track yourself. Every time I drank water, I would write it down on the notebook. No matter if it was a sip, or a whole glass at once, I would track how much water I drank throughout the day. At the end of the first week I looked at my numbers and was pretty surprised. During the first four days I drank less than a liter a day. Nowhere near my goal. Later in the week, I wanted to be able to write down on my notepad that I drank water so I would purposely CHOOSE to go drink some.
- Next, continue tracking for THREE more weeks. I know, seems tedious, but you need to develop a HABIT of consciously CHOOSING to do something or not do something, depending on what you are tracking. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
- At the end you will have noticed a pattern, I now CHOOSE to drink water. I still track it, but I am more conscious of my decision to drink it now rather than my autopilot lack of a choice, to ignore it. I’ve lost some water weight because of this! I was always dehydrated, just chose to ignore the signs, now I feel more awake, and drinking water makes me feel like I’m making a choice in the best direction.
Now you try.
- Come up with a goal. (Losing weight, Saving money, Being better at your job)
- Track your behaviour and choices for 1 week. (Track everything you put in your mouth, track every dollar you spend, track how long you spend on Personal Development a day)
- Look at your results, be conscious of your choices and track for THREE more weeks.
- You’ve developed a new habit!! Congratulations!
Feel free to comment below what you’re going to be tracking to hold yourself accountable! Be successful, in every area of your life.