“Serenity Now!”(1) and “Peace, be still”(2), might be mantras we vocalise or silent pleas for help as we navigate through our busy days, but long term are not real solutions to coping with modern life.
What we are trying to do in that moment, as we reach for a calmer train of thought, is to pause the relentless urgency that undermines our thoughtful deliberation, creativity, engagement of those around us and our ability just to get things done. And whilst possibly effective in that very moment, the ability to balance all that we have going on in our daily lives, requires long term changes in our behaviour.
The challenge of changing behaviour
Creating new positive habits can make significant differences in your life and give you the skills to turn the impossible into the possible. But how easy is it to change our behaviour? A few statistics from Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project,(3) reveal change, unfortunately, is not that easy…
• 25 per cent of people abandon their New Years’ resolution(s) after just one week
• 95 per cent of people who lose weight on a diet regain it
• Most alarming is that after surviving a heart attack only 1 in 7 people make any enduring life changes around eating or exercise.
We are indeed creatures of habit. Some behaviors become so ingrained, such as smoking or biting our nails that we can’t stop even if we want to. In fact, Massachusetts Institute of Technology research has identified two regions in the brain that are responsible for crystallising habits so it’s no wonder we find it so hard to break them.
So how then can we break these habits? Researchers are looking at ways to treat and break habits using deep brain electrical stimulation (think of it as a pacemaker for the brain), to suppress our unwanted habits – a little extreme perhaps? Before we line up to get rewired, there are some choices we can make to start our own patterns of change.
Making choices to embrace the best within
Chris Gardner (the man on whom the film ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ was based), in his retelling of his battle to come out of poverty and homelessness, offers advice to embrace the best within us(2):
1) Make a choice to let go of judgment and accept who you are at your best
2) Choose to break generational cycles
3) Choose to accept that you are allowed to be happy and have abundance
4) Choose to learn from the past
Now, it isn’t easy to act on this advice, apply these choices and make time for what’s important when daily life stresses get in the way.
Take John for example. I’m sure we could all relate to him…
John is a small business owner married to Kate a teacher and they have two children 13 and 10. John is trying to: Run the business; be a good husband; be a good father, keep a handle on the finances, keep fit, maintain his friendships, mentor his staff, fit in a family holiday at some point and maintain the condition of his home…..Something has got to give!!
With his energy focused on so many activities, where would John find the time to make better choices and start making changes to his lifestyle?
Today we call it outsourcing, the Babylonians(4) called it “…one of the cures for a lean purse”, but the message is clear – outsource the things that you are no good at or not qualified to do so that you can have more time to focus on what’s important to you and what adds value to your life.
So for John it meant joining a small business peer group, hiring a trainer for his staff, seeing a financial adviser and matching exercise with his friendship group. By doing this he freed up time for what was really important to him – being a good husband and father.
Six tips to create new habits
John was able to free up his time to focus on making change and you can too. But it’s important to remember that change takes time and there will be some resistance along the way. Try these six tips to help you on your journey:
1) Don’t change everything at once: One or two things at a time
2) It takes about a month to lock in a new behavior
3) Be precise about what you want to change
4) Focus on a positive outcome rather than the negatives
5) Expect resistance (especially from yourself)
6) Enlist the support of others
Talk to a professional
Whether it’s your finances in 2014 that are a priority, the estate plan, those insurances that you need but don’t like talking about or even if it’s the no sugar diet (and that’s a tough one, I know from personal experience), you need to talk to an expert to understand how they can help.
By enlisting the help of others you can then free up your time to make better choices and to start the journey towards creating new positive habits.
Speak with our award winning planners today to see how you might benefit from the help of a professional.
1) “Seinfeld”, NBC, 1989 to 1998.
2) “The Pursuit of Happiness” Chris Gardner 2006
3) “The Energy Project” www.theenergyproject.com
4) “The Richest Man in Babylon” George S. Clason 1926.
Source: Zurich, January 2014