Every few months, I go through the “we need to eat healthy!” thing. It’s become a cyclic pattern: Realize we’re eating like crap. Shop and eat healthy. Someone gets sick/we get overloaded with “life”. Before we know it, we’re eating a solid rotation of spaghetti, tacos and Mac & Cheese.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I recently started working the Beachbody 21 Day Fix Extreme program. When I ordered it, I’ll be honest, I knew I was at the beginning of my “healthy eating” cycle. But I really want to make it stick this time.
That asshole voice in the back of my mind told me, “This will be like every other time.” Then it laughed. Then it made itself a pot of spaghetti and chased it down with a 20 oz beer while it sat on the couch, mocking me.
And I realize, quite apparently, that my cyclical fits-and-spurts of “being where I want to be” vs. “staying put right where I am” spill into other aspects of my life. My writing takes similar hits to my health and fitness. I think to myself, if I ever want to be self-sufficient doing the things that I love and was born to do, something’s gotta’ give!
The sad part is… I know how to break out of old ruts. I had a friend tell me not long ago that for over 25 years, I’m the one who inspires her to roll with life’s changes. (I was like, “Really? Wow… I always thought I was a hot mess.”) But no… I’ve faced down some serious adversity, and I’ve hurdled over some pretty steep obstacles in my life. I’ve reinvented myself in the past, and always for the better. I know exactly what to do… but yet… there I sat, still looking out from my ruts going, “What now?”
Then, when I least expected it, during one of the 21 Day Fix workout videos, the trainer said this….
I know I’m smart. I’m almost certain of it.
How many times have I told other people in life, “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results”? Answer: More than I can count.
What I love about Autumn’s way of stating this truth is the positive nature of the phrasing.
The asshole on the couch in my brain is now shouting, “Yeah… trying something new… like that will work! Let me introduce you to my friend: Old Habits.”
I see Old Habits, grinning wicked and picking his teeth, just waiting for me to stall out and flounder. I know he’ll be right there to pick up the pieces.
But, Old Habits, this time I have something new on my side: Intention.
It’s funny what a bad rap that word gets. “Oh, yeah, sure… you’re intentions were great, but you still managed to douse yourself, the ground, the fuel truck and this nice gentleman in aviation fuel because you weren’t paying attention.” Not that I’ve ever done that. *ahem* Moving along…
Setting an intention is a lot different from “having good intentions.” There are a few steps to intention-setting that turn ideas into goals, goals into actions, and actions into habits.
1. Make your intention positive!
Take, for example, how I’ve always phrased the “definition of insanity” in such a negative light. Only insane people do the same things over and over and expect different results. That’s dumb. I’m not dumb. It doesn’t apply to me. Right? RIGHT?
Yet you turn the phrase around, and you say, “You want something different… try something new!” It’s exciting. It’s enticing. It drives me to think: What can I do differently, now that I know what I’m doing is keeping me stagnant?
I want “Good health,” not “to lose weight.”
I want to “dedicate my actions to drive results,” not “to stop procrastinating and wasting time.”
I want to “publish my novel and finish the series,” not “see if anyone will accept my novel for publication.”
I want to “foster a loving and caring home environment,” not “avoid going medieval on my eye-rolling, sarcastic pre-teens.”
You get the idea. Turn the frown upside down. Take your negative feeling toward yourself and your life, twist the words around, and make it a positive affirmation. In the world of scientific logic, it’s accepted as impossible to prove a negative. Similarly, it’s impossible to build a positive habit on a negative foundation. The best you can ever expect to achieve is a solid zero… status quo. So start from an elevated position, and keep moving on up!
2. Turn your intention into a vision.
There’s an adage out there that goes: “How do eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” You might look at your positive intention: “I intend to be a NYT best-selling author.” And you look at your pile of rejection slips. And you go…. yeah. Right.
Well of course it’s not going to happen tomorrow! Chances are you already know what to do to reach your goal, so list specific steps you’ll take. If you’re not sure, then make your first step on your quest “research.”
Create a firm vision of the path that takes you from where you are to where you want to be. Establish actions you can take each day to get you there. Think up new things… things you haven’t done before!
Make a list.
Write them down!
I cannot stress hard enough the importance of writing out your intentions and goals. Put them where you can see them. Create a vision board, or write it on a piece of paper and keep it taped to your bathroom mirror. Put sticky notes all over your house. Create an image of your intentions and use it as your computer background. Paste it to your car windshield. No… wait… don’t do that.
Just put it somewhere that you’ll see it, and that you’ll see it often!
3. Actually do the stuff you wrote down.
Wait, what? I have to do something? Noooooooo…….oooooooooo…….o.
Habits form by repeating actions. If you want to move from point A to point Z, you won’t get there by habitually doing the same things you’ve always done. Follow through on your vision and make sure you are doing a little bit each day. It doesn’t have to be ALL THE THINGS, ALL RIGHT NOW. It can — and should — be little steps, repeated each day, until your brain rewires and goes, “Oh! This is what I’m supposed to do!”
That’s the point when Old Habits packs his shit and moves on out, become his nemesis, Healthy Habits, is movin’ in!
If you create habits that are in line with your vision, and that breathe life into your intentions, you can not help but achieve your goals.
Follow the path you set out for yourself, and watch your world change around you.
Other Helpful Hints
You’re on a planet with 7 billion other people; someone, somewhere is going to be just as excited for your vision and your intentions as you are. Hell, I’m excited for your vision, and I don’t even know who is reading this!!
Search Facebook. Scour MeetUp. Avoid Craigslist. Great for finding a new desk… not so great for “personal” support… yeah.
Start by asking friends and coworkers what they think of your crazy ideas. Maybe the people you find share similar goals. Maybe their goals are different, but they understand your drive. Maybe they need someone to come up next to them and say “just keep going” just as much as you do.
Find your people, and band together.
Then: Reach out. Hold each other accountable. Understand each other’s slips. Encourage continued progress.
Becoming your best you is a journey. It never stops. Allow your vision and your intentions to change as you grow. Above all else, remember that your path leads you forward, and even if you stumble, you’re still headed in the right direction. Be gentle with your slips, pick yourself up, and keep going. Use your vision board. Fearlessly move forward. Just stick with it!
I’ll share my vision board by the end of this weekend. Share with me, in the comments, pictures of your vision board or your written intentions. I’d love to see them!
For more information on the upcoming Adept Cycle series, please see the webpage for Rising.
If you’re interested in learning more about Beachbody or Shakeology, pop over to my coaching page at http://www.beachbodycoach.com/esuite/home/shananwinters and drop me a message!
Nerdmaste, my friends. May each of you find your passion, and follow it to your dreams!