HOW YOU CAN BE MORE CONSISTENT BY EMBRACING DISCOMFORT

Consistency

Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals. – Jim Rohn

If you’re to succeed with any personal challenge in life you have to be able to measure your progress and the outcomes of your behaviors. One of the strongest indicators of success in any avenue of life is your level of consistent practice.

  • How many diets have you started and bailed on in a week or two?
  • How many exercise programs have you begun only to find a few weeks later those 30 minute sessions 5 days per week have now turned into a few minutes here and there?
  • How many times have you committed to saving money only to run out and purchase that bag, pair of shoes, or sporting event tickets?

For me I always would complain about two things:

  1. Not having enough money: It felt like I was always trying to save but then “something” was always coming up where I couldn’t.
  2. Not meeting that special someone: No matter what I did it felt like I could never meet anyone to spend some quality time with.

I remember sitting down at a coffee shop (you’ll see this as a theme here. Coffee shops and conversation is all I seem to do now :D) with a traveler from Australia I met while I was in Paris a few years back.

We were talking about why we were traveling at the time and specific life struggles we were going through. I just so happened to mention the two above.

He asked me what I was doing to achieve those goals and I told him I was trying to save, trying to go out and mingle.

“Trying,” he said to me. “Either you’re doing it or you’re not.” He then asked me how consistent I was in my efforts.

As I thought about it I really wasn’t that consistent at all. I’d save a little here and there, spend it on something, or simply stop the automatic process from my checking to savings account because “I needed” the money for something else.

I’d go out and meet people here and there but I’d stop because “other stuff came up.”

I realized that there will always be something. Some excuse, some reason, some lack of motivation that I could call upon as to why I wasn’t achieving the things I wanted to achieve but the real reason would always be that I wasn’t consistently practicing enough of the behaviors that would lead to the outcomes I wanted to see.

This is something that I’ve taken with me in my coaching practice as well. Especially those that I work with who are trying to achieve health and wellness goals.

  • I workout a lot but I can’t seem to lose any weight. What can I do?
  • I eat really well but I still have this layer of fat I want to lose. What can I do?

After getting down to it with them it typically always comes down to one thing. CONSISTENCY. They just are not doing the things that will lead to the results that they want consistently enough.

Todd Smith over at little things matter reminds us that there will always be an excuse:

  • There are a million other things I have to deal with. It’s impossible for me to focus on just one. (It’s too difficult.)
  • It’s hard for me to be consistent because I’m just so busy. (I’m overwhelmed.)
  • Sure, __________ was important last week, but my priorities are constantly changing.” (I’m not in control.)

If you’re consistent with your workouts and nutrition you will make progress. If you are consistent in your relationships you will make meaningful connections and they will grow. If you are consistent with your finances you will be financially more independent and secure.

So how can you be more consistent in your life to accomplish some of those big goals on your life list?

DISSONANCE & CONSISTENCY THEORY

Sedjule Penny Bradford via Compfight

Consistency becomes like a form of human gravity. It holds everything down and together. It helps us to understand the world and our place in it. (1)

Dissonance is the cognitive, emotional, psychological, and even behavioral state where certain things do not happen as we expect them to – missed, incorrect, surprising, etc… In music this may be a lack of harmony amongst musical notes and in our lives this may be a state of mental conflict.

To help understand this a little better we can look to psychology.

I love psychology. Psychology, psychology, psychology. Here it goes down… down into my belly…

In the psychology circle there is a theory know as the cognitive consistency theory or cognitive dissonance theory.

  • Cognitive dissonance theory: Both positive and negative outcomes help us to reduce stressful decisions in our lives that may lead to unpleasant, uncomfortable, or emotional, physical, spiritual, etc… tension and discomfort. A conflict between your behaviors and outcomes.

One of the more popular examples that is used to describe CDT is when people smoke (behavior) they know it causes cancer (outcome) yet they do it anyway.

Another example might be when a woman or man says that financial security is a priority for them but they are in a relationship with someone who is financially unstable.

Yet another example is that you know what to do to get healthier (exercise and nutrition wise) yet you are not doing it. This one specifically be known as counter-attitudinal behavior (behaving in a way that is counter to our true attitudes, values, and beliefs.)

We typically make decisions in our lives to reduce unpleasantness. Like if you are hungry… starving in fact you know you feel that the fastest way to reduce this unpleasantness is to eat or drink something. You know that there are healthy options that can fill this need for you but if the unpleasantness is too much you are more often than not influenced to reduce that tension as quickly and conveniently as possible… hence vending machine syndrome so to speak.

However, there is a shining light here. When you see inconsistencies in your life you are at a heightened state to make changes. This is because as humans it is in our nature to expect consistency, we like it, we love it in fact because it makes us feel safe and secure and those are two very primitive instincts for us.

Inconsistencies in our lives create unwanted tension and this tension motivates us to create change. I remember a client and now friend of mine that received some unwanted news from a doctors visit. It was inconsistent with previous visits and this is the motivation he needed to start making some lifestyle changes.

However, you may often struggle with these inconsistencies and it’s time you start getting better with them. After all, circumstances will arise that will be uncomfortable, confusing, and unexpected.

That’s life for ya.

By understanding that it is our attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors within these events that often cause these inconsistencies in our life we can better learn how to find more consistency to avoid them.

WHAT DO TO WHEN THINGS GET CONFUSING

Here’s the one big kicker when trying to create change in our lives… it creates inconsistencies. This creates tensions and uncomfortable feelings and that’s one reason change is so damn hard!

Pow! Right in the kisser. I just hit you with a right hand filled with inconsistency in your life. What do you do?

Typically there are 4 things that happen:

  1. Deny it: Pretend it didn’t happen
  2. Eat it (not literally): By consuming/referring to as many good feelings as we can remember to outweigh the bad ones.
  3. Change expectations: Hypothesize new outcomes from certain behaviors
  4. Change interpretation/perception: If you have a negative experience, the ability to spin it to a positive one through your thoughts and actions.

We desire consistency in all areas of our lives:

  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Behaviors
  • Opinions
  • Values
  • Habits
  • Education
  • Relationships
  • Finances
  • Truth/Honesty

Once you decide something in any given area of life you most likely try hard to make all future behaviors and decisions consistent with that decision. This is one reason why good habit development is so important.

A great example I found online the other day discussing this is how as consumers we stick with certain brands regardless of price, quality, or customer service, etc… Once we’ve decided that we like that brand and have chosen it we try very hard to stay consistent with it. Often, if we change we’ll complain about how we don’t like this “new” brand.

Like if you were to go from the Apple iPhone to a Galaxy. You’re so use to the consistency and familiarity of the iPhone that if you do change you don’t like it simply because it’s different. It’s not familiar, you have to learn the new interface.

Maybe this is a reason we stay in particular relationships for much longer than we should, or struggle when we try to change our nutritional approach, or jobs for that matter. The new ones are just unfamiliar.

We stay with things like this because they act as short cuts for us to making decisions and that’s how our brains like it. Short, simple, and sweet – as little work to be done as possible. Once you’ve made a decision you never have to come back to it again because you can simply refer to the previous decision to avoid the unpleasantness and tension that may come with making a new decision.

What’s making this even more difficult for us is the wealth of information that is out there to be learned and understood. There are so many opportunities for us to gain wisdom and knowledge now that it can be easy for us to fall into the “Amazon effect.”

These opportunities are a blessing and a curse. Because we can get out hands on so many different theories, ideas, and thoughts we create more tension, questions, and inconsistencies in our lives.

HOW DO I CREATE MORE FRICKIN CONSISTENCY?

First thing for more consistency is establishing the ability to commit. Commitment is usually achieved through personal and/or interpersonal pressures.

I remember when I first thought about starting this website (now business, how cool!!). I contacted a few writers that I really respected for some advice. I wanted to know what it took to create a successful blog.

One response I got back stuck with me. It was from Chris Guillebeau, he simply told me to create a writing/publishing schedule for myself each week and to never miss a day no matter what. Then any lack of progress in my writing would entirely be my fault for not being compliant with my schedule (cough) not being consistent (cough) (cough).

Reading has also become such a big influence in my life these last few years and one book in particular that I have found helpful in building more consistency in my life is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

In order to find more commitment in life you need a few things:

1. Social Proof: You need to know this is possible. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Anything… anything is possible. Everything is this world once started out as a dream The microwave, your refrigerator, your car, a simple tooth-brush. They all started out as someone’s dream – and those dreams eventually came to fruition.

What are you trying to achieve? Do you have examples from your past, friends, mentors, heroes, videos, anything really to remind you that this can be done?

How about these examples if you’re looking to get fit or improve some other are of your wellness.

2. Announce that MOFO!: Out loud (shout it from the roof tops is you have to), in writing, verbally, just make sure to refer to it often. I use a commitment journal as a way to keep me in check day in and day out.

3. Use the power of scarcity: We want what we can’t have or at least what we tell ourselves we can’t have, plan and simple. Love, food, the body, money, you name it. There are two ways you can deal with this.

One is to embrace it and to naturally allow it to motivate you. However, if you don’t respond well to this strategy you can reframe it and change the way you talk to yourself. Instead of using words like I can’t eat pizza you would start saying I don’t eat pizza. You’re essentially creating a new identity for yourself. This framing effect is very powerful.

4. Approval: Feedback and approval from others is very important to us. Whether it is actually important or not can be argued but the facts show that we care what other people think and when approval for our actions is shown we get extremely motivated (1). But how about seeking approval from yourself every once in a while. Check yourself out in the mirror and give yourself a  “damn, I’m looking fine today.” Or let yourself know what a great job you did today. Be proud!

5. Create evidence to refer to: “What gets measured gets managed.” You can’t make any changes if you’re not aware as to what changes you need to make. One way I do this with clients is by using a food log to see what’s really going on nutritionally.

Most often what happens is this. “Oh shit!” I didn’t even know I was eating like that. You can use a log for just about anything going on in for life. Take notes of time you spend with certain people. Are those relationships toxic to your well-being or are you both contributing positively to one anthers personal growth? Track you spending using awesome resources like Mint or simple excel/google docs like this from my boy J-Money.

6. Focus on your behaviors rather than outcomes: You’ll never be able to control what the scale tells you, if someone will love you, or if you’ll be able to get a certain job. But you can control the behaviors that lead to those outcomes.

You can show up and commit to taking action and responsibility for your life. You can choose to get a 10 minute workout in at home if you had a busy day, you can show gratitude to someone, and you can choose to work on a side hustle.

What are some small, regular, and manageable action steps you can take right NOW towards a goal of yours?

7. Use multiple measures of progress: For example the scale is not the only way to measure weight loss success. Are your clothes fitting looser? Did your body fat percentage drop? Do you have more energy? Are you in a better mood?

FINAL THOUGHTS AND INSIGHT FROM YOU

Check in today, do you actually want to be HONEST with yourself. Do you really want to commit to consistency and to making big changes. Look, if you don’t then you don’t and that’s fine but at least be honest about it.

Ask yourself questions… tons of them? Hell, I talk to myself all the time (not in a crazy creepy sorta way but more like an awesome self-awareness sorta way.)

Are you satisfied with where you’re at? If not, how close are you?

You don’t need inspiration, motivation, or experts to tell you what to do. Do those things help? Absolutely! But you won’t wake up everyday inspired, every so often you’ll lack motivation, and experts don’t always get it right. But you can control whether or not you show up everyday and do the work.

Just get started on whatever it is you want to do. Just a few short weeks ago I noticed our front and back yards at the house needed a complete overhaul (looked like a tornado hit them) I committed to just pulling the weeds out from some of the bushes in the front. What would have been a 15 minute job turned into a five-hour job in which I completely cleaned up the entire front lawn.

BOOM! The power of simply getting started. More often than not once you just get started you’ll find your mojo rolling and you won’t want to stop.

So let me here it. What do you need to practice more consistency with in your life? What are you planning to do about it today?

Live limitless,

Justin

Did any of this not make sense? Need help getting started? Holler at-cha boy!

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A beginners workout routine: Free excerpt from the Limitless365 Fitness Program

Below is an excerpt from the Limitless365 Fitness Program. This is an excerpt from the Exercise Guidebook and Beginners workout protocol. If you enjoy this article please consider picking up a copy of the program here.

 

Today I am releasing the final article in a series of three that featured FREE excerpts from the Limitless365 Fitness Program as a way to help the L365 community build a healthier mindset and a very important healthy habit. You can read those two articles here and here.

Todays post includes how to build a consistent exercise habit plus the Level-1 Noob workout program found in the Limitless365 Fitness Program.

Read on

THE BEST WAY TO BETTER DECISIONS: HOW TO UNITE YOUR HEAD, HEART, & GUT


When there’s a really big decision to be made in my life I often feel like I’m being pulled in multiple directions. My heads telling me to do one thing, my heart something else and my gut likes to add its two cents to the conversation as well.

Needless to say this makes decision-making more difficult than it already is.

  • My head is telling me she’s out of my league and probably already has a boyfriend so why bother.
  • My heart says go for it ya fool! She’s smart, sexy, and has her shit together.
  • Then my gut chimes in… maybe it’s more of a tightening up and I find myself unable to move.

This little conundrum doesn’t just happen when we’re dealing with the opposite sex or within our personal relationships. It happens on various levels. Your head, heart, and gut might be telling you separate things regarding a big purchase or some other financial decision, or make eating real food and getting consistent exercise all kinds of difficult.

The most successful people in the world are able to unite all three brains for better decision-making, achievement, and leadership. We’ve talked about it before on the site but some folks call this what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi termed the sate of “Flow” or being in the  zone.

That state of being in which you are acting as your highest self.

So this is what I’m thinking (and I don’t know if this is my brain, heart, or gut talking) if you and I can figure out how to align all three brains and get them to work together I see us making better decisions that leaned to better health, wealth, and personal relationships.

THE THREE BRAINS

 

Our brains have been evolving for thousands of years and with this so too have our thoughts and emotions. However, our environment is also changing so rapidly it’s tough for our body’s and minds to keep up.

  • The foods we eat have changed
  • Technology continues to grow at an amazing rate
  • The entire work landscape is evolving
  • Education is different
  • How we interact on a personal with others is changing (goodbye letters and phone calls, hello emails and text messages).

As the world around us continues to grow and evolve so too are our bodies, but at a much slower pace. Instead of starting with a brand new template to work with our body’s hold on to what it knows has worked in the past.

  • The ability to choose the healthy foods and to know when we are full is apart of who we are.
  • The desire to interact and communicate with one another is ingrained in us.
  • Natural instincts rooted in survival are still there.

It’s just with all that is going on around us we sometimes lose sight of those natural instincts and can become influenced by an overload on information, options, and temptations.

Science has shown us (boooooooooo!) Oh relax you :) This will only take a minute.

Let me start again…

Science has shown us that we actually do have three brains… sort of. One found in our head, one found in our heart, and the other found in our gut. Each of which has a memory, intelligence, and control over the decisions we make.

These brains have the ability to work together or independently when it comes to helping us make decisions on a daily basis.

Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka over at trainingmag.com outlined the primary functions of each “brain” beautifully.

Your Noodle (aka The human brain): Is primarily used for cognitive perception and pattern recognition. You use your head for to reason, analysis, and synthesis information that comes in. One way your head makes meaning of things is through language (verbally, written, body), telling stories and using metaphors.

If you find yourself constantly analyzing things (Bingo!! This is me) you probably use your head to make a lot of your decisions. Think of your head brain as the rational side of you.

This brain also is what holds most out our creativity whether that be in the arts, problem solving, or life in general.

Your Heart: Is used mostly for processing emotions (joy, jealousy, anger, hate, love, lust, compassion, empathy). It helps you to discover what is most important to you in life, priorities, and values. It helps you to connect or disconnect with others based on similarities or difference in those values.

Your Buddha (aka the belly brain): The feelings you get in your belly extend beyond just hunger. In many cultures gut feelings are considered a strong source of wisdom, intuitive knowledge, and even “all-knowing.” In Japan the belly brain is sometimes known as “a seat of wisdom” and even the center of our being.

As defined by Soosalu and Oka the belly brain is your core identity and contains the deepest levels of the self. You rely on your gut often for quick decision-making; that fight or flight response (safety or risk). You may find courage, fear, action, and grit down there.

THE GUT AND BRAIN CONNECTION

Our brains have billions and billions of neurons that help to process the nearly 35,000 decisions the average person makes in a given day. Our belly’s also have millions of nerve cells and neurons that can aid in this process.

By sending electrical signals through the vagus nerve and releasing certain chemicals and having them delivered to the brain by blood our belly’s are able to talk with our brain.

We often think of the brain in our heads to be “headquarters.” However, studies are now showing that our belly make also play a big part when it comes to our thoughts, actions, and decision-making. So that strong gut feeling or intuition you sometimes get… or maybe it’s just gas :) might be more important than you initially thought.

Recent research has shown us that a huge influence on our emotions is actually found in our belly’s. Nearly 80-95% of the neurotransmitter Serotonin can be found in the gut.

Other things Serotonin has been shown to influence (1):

  • Appetite
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Mood
  • Behavior
  • Depression
  • And other various bodily functions.

Aside from Serotonin; dopamine which controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, norepinephrine which has plays a part in attention, focus, and our fight or flight response are also produced and received in the belly.

Our digestive system also contains cells that help to produce and receive enkephalins and endorphins – Simply put, chemicals that help to produce feelings and emotions like joy, satisfaction, pain, and pleasure. So in essence it’s not just your head and heart that let you know how you’re feeling but your gut too.

Because of poorly manufactured food and its consumption, stress, and toxic environments – the brain in our belly is being damaged daily, making it harder for it to connect with our head to help us make better decisions.

One way to improve gut health and its decision-making is through proper nutrition.

Because you and I chat a lot about Paleo, nutrition, and eating more real food here on the site it should be noted that instead of the brain telling the tummy what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat it is in fact the belly that is telling your brain these things.

This is one reason eating more real food and providing your tummy with healthy bacteria and avoiding the stuff that causes bad bacteria like industrial seed oils is so important.

Studies are now coming out showing that a healthy digestive system free of bad bacteria in children can lead to less anxiety and an increased sense of well-being and happiness in adults. This makes sense because the same active substances that are found in prescription drugs like Valium and Xanax are actually produced in the same chemical form in our guts.

Because the nervous system of the belly is autonomous it is able to work independently of the brain (2) So essentially it has a mind of its own.

THE HEART AND BRAIN CONNECTION

Your heart contains roughly 2 billion muscle cells and thousands of neurons that help it to interact with your noodle. Similar to the belly the heart uses the vagus nerve, spinal cord, and various bodily chemicals.

One chemical in particular that the heart helps to release is oxytocin, commonly know as the love, trust, or well-being hormone. Levels of oxytocin are effected during sex, a simple hug, birth, breast-feeding, or a hand shake.

Our heart helps to form our values or those things most important to us. We often base these things on past experiences, memories, and emotions. When the heart and the head work together both the analytical and emotional sides of us are used to compare current decisions with feelings and experiences from our past.

If we associate negative emotions with past experiences we will usually avoid repeating the same behavior. If positive emotions are associated with an experience we typically will repeat the behavior.

The big problem lies when we imagine outcomes that are highly unlikely like winning the lottery for example. This is known in psychology as the endowment effect. The thought of all the experiences we could have, the purchase we could make, the trips we could take get the best of use and cause our emotions to influence our decisions.

Our emotions can also get the better of us in other ways:

  • The blind spot: AKA, “I’d never do that syndrome.” When you see someone else make a poor decisions and let it be know to the world that you’d never do that. Only to do the exact same thing weeks later.
  • Confirmation bias: Where we seek out information solely to justify or validate our own opinions. A great example of this when researching diets or nutrition advice. I’m personally biased towards the Paleo approach so when I conduct research I tend to gravitate towards information that validates that nutritional approach (no grains, legumes, or dairy).
  • Belief reserverance: Sticking to our guns even tho new information is presented that clearly contradicts it.

Recently, studies are beginning to show that the heart sends signals to the brain may either inhibit or facilitate different thought processes in the brain. What this tells us is that just like the belly the heart has a say in the decisions we make and our overall thought process.

When we get nervous, excited, angry, are infatuated with someone, or consume caffeine and sometimes sugar the electrical switches (AV and SA) that influence our heart beats can be effected causing the heart to flutter. The speed of the heart beat is controlled by the Vagus Nerve, the same thing that helps to deliver messages from the gut to the brain.

We often have a difficult time expressing these messages or our emotions because language is rooted in the human brain while our emotions usually find themselves in our hearts or belly’s. Essentially it seems like they are always working separately of each other.

You can help control the pace of your heart beat or the butterflies in your belly by practicing certain breathing techniques like this.

TYING THIS ALL TOGETHER AND MAKING BETTER DECISIONS

Decision making is frick’n difficult! And Nutrition is such a great example of this. Most of us already know what to eat – just eat real food right? Yet actually doing it can be so difficult. It’s so easy to tell ourselves not to touch those cookies on the counter table, to avoid the fast food places, and to steer clear of the “fake food.”

But as we’ve touched on before our natural instincts are rooted in survival and safety. Food was scarce so when we were able to eat we took advantage of it. As society keeps evolving cheap, processed, and addictive food is easily accessible while real food is a little tougher to come by.

It’s also so easy to spend money. In seconds and with a click of a button you can have anything you want ordered and delivered to you making saving money that much more difficult.

Even our personal relationships are effected. Technology has created so many ways for us to connect with each other but unfortunately it’s done so on a far less personal level. As mentioned before there seems to be far less face to face interactions with one another and more Facebook messages, twitter retweets, and Instagram photo likes.

Daniel Kahnemen, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow breaks down decision-making, judgement, choices, and behaviors into two types of operations:

  • Automatic (fast): These are most often emotionally charged and automatic. The heart and the gut dominate these.
  • Deilberate (slow): Analytical and thought out. The head dominates these. When all three brains are working together and uniting emotion and rationality we tend to make decisions at a slower rate as well.

It’s pretty clear that in today’s society we need to make both automatic (fast) and deliberate (slow) decisions. If you’re crossing the street and a car barring down on you you’ll obviously not want to think too much about what to do. On the other hand the decision to accept a new job or hold onto a particular relationship might be something you want to think about a little more.

To unite the three brains and make better decisions there are a few things you can do:

1. Avoid making decisions under pressure: It’s easier to think things through when in an emotionally neutral state. A know it your but, a rapid heart beat, and a million thoughts running through you’re head make it difficult to clearly process decisions.

Sometimes you’ll have to make choices under pressure but if possible request more time so that you calm down and process information properly.

2. Do something else: Preferably something you really enjoy. Go surfing, rock climb, workout, cook, or whatever you like to do. Let your mind focus on something else for a little while.

3. Revisit your past: There’s a good chance you’ve already had similar experiences based on the choices you’re having to make now. What was your experience like then?

4. Use WRAP: In their book Decisive, Dan and Chip Heath outline a super cool formula that we can all use to unite our three brains and begin to make better decisions.

W: Widen your options by evaluating the opportunity costs such as money, time, or even your values.

R: Reality test the decision you’re making by considering the complete opposite. Also, think about the biggest obstacle standing in your way.

A: Attain distance before making any decisions. Remove yourself from any environments that may influence your decisions. What are the long-term and short-term implications based on possible choices (consider the worst case scenario but also what is most likely to happen)?

If you’re best friend came to you with this decisions what advice would you give to      them?  Most of us hate letting other people down but are ok with letting ourselves down from time to time. If you’re not in a HELL YES or HELL NO mindset how can you get there?

P: Prepare to be wrong. What are common problems that others are facing when trying to make this decision? What are the implications of being entirely wrong (they usually aren’t that bad). We tend to think of outlandish possibilities and scenarios that are highly unlikely, watch for this.

Are you making choices based on what is most important RIGHT NOW?

Do you tend to think more with your head, heart, or gut?

Do you tend to use different brains for different types of decisions?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments or a personal email.

Live Limitless,

Justin

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HOW TO BUILD A HEALTHY HABIT: 10 MINUTES OF MOVEMENT A DAY

Below is an excerpt from the Limitless365 Fitness Program. This is the first of 12 healthy habits that are practiced as part of the program. If you enjoy this article please consider picking up a copy of the program here.

 

Your first habit to practice is simply to get moving more often. This may seem too simple but that’s the idea, I want you to build some momentum and confidence moving forward. A lot of your success will be determined by your expectations of success and I want to make sure you have the confidence moving (no pun intended) forward.

Read on