A surefire way to change your habits

A surefire way to change your habits

I have taught Creativity and Personal Mastery for decades and lots of alumni have shared what they found really useful. Some of these tips could make a big difference in your life.

Here is a way to break — permanently! — habits that you have not been able to shake.

We all want to make changes in our life.

We want to be thinner, tell funnier jokes, have more money and be famous.

We even know, or think we know, how to do it.

The problem lies in the actual doing.

How many times — generally on your birthday or New Year’s Day — have you told yourself that, from now on, your life will be different? That you would eat healthier food, quit smoking, stop procrastinating and exercise regularly?

Be honest, now! And how long did your resolutions last?

The reason you — and most people — fail repeatedly is because we try to bring about profound change in ourselves by an act of will. We determine that we will stop smoking, that we will go to the gym and work out and so on.

Every time you try to bring about change by an effort of will, you do violence to yourself. Odds are good that you will not succeed. Even if you do, there is a good chance that there will be unintended side-effects that you do not care for.

So, for example, you might stop smoking cold turkey but eat too much and put on weight.

There is a better way to bring about behavioral change that sticks. You do it by systematically examining the mental models you hold and making changes in them. As you do this, you literally become a different person and the change you seek happens effortlessly as a by-product.

Here is an example of how this works in practice.

A good friend would get all steamed up about traffic when he came to visit me. He lives about two hours away and there are frequently jams at the bridges he has to cross. He also bemoaned the fact that he ‘never had time’ to meditate.

In Zen tradition there is something called ‘walking meditation’ where you walk slowly, mindfully and bring your focus back to each step when you wander away. I suggested that he experiment with ‘driving meditation.’

There was a quick flip in his world-view. Traffic jams went instantly from being a horrible and unwanted part of his life to being an opportunity to practice mindfulness.

He actually looked forward to getting stuck in his next traffic snarl!

You may not be able to make such a sudden and complete turnaround, but the principle is very solid. Examine the mental models behind the ‘suffering’ that you are enduring and make appropriate changes.

And you find that you are different and your life is different.

If you are interested in exploring this topic in more detail, please get a copy of my first book Are YOU Ready to Succeed: Unconventional Strategies for Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life.

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Srikumar S Rao

Srikumar Rao is the author of “Are You Ready to Succeed?” and creator of the celebrated MBA course, “Creativity & Personal Mastery.” // theraoinstitute.com