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Living Intentionally – Short Introduction – Part 2

Now, that we have defined what intentional living means, it’s time to consider how the concept plays out in real life.

Living intentionally – What does that look like?

Living an intentional and organised life looks different for each of us, of course.

Each of my clients has very personal and unique goals and ideas about what they want to achieve and why they want that.

Decluttering and organising physical stuff and personal information.

For some of my clients, the focus of the work is creating more space and order in their personal environment. They want to clear their home and belongings or optimise their physical paperwork and digital information management. Their intention is to enjoy more spaciousness, clarity, and lightness.

Planning, organising, and successfully realising bigger changes in life.

Others want to get well prepared for bigger changes in their life – like entering retirement or downsizing – by sorting out what belongs to the past and efficiently organising what they want to take into the future. The objective here is to feel in control of the change process and to manage it confidently and successfully.

Simplifying daily life and efficiently organising time, energy, and other resources.

Many of my clients are determined to make the organisation of their daily life easier and more enjoyable. They want to get really good at managing their work, their projects and tasks, their time more efficiently. They intend to get rid of any overwhelm or stress, to get things done and to achieve desired outcomes.

Clarifying and reorganising life after experiencing loss or other unwanted challenges.

For some of my clients it’s unexpected disruptions – like the loss of their life partner or a critical illness – that force them to adapt themselves and the various areas of their life to the new conditions. They want to gain clarity and direction and use the decluttering and reorganising work to help them cope with the unwanted changes in their life.

How can we create and enjoy an intentional and simply organised life?

It takes just three steps! >READ MORE>


What about you?

Are you living your life intentionally?

And if yes, what does that mean to you?

What does it look like in your daily life?


HOW CAN I HELP YOU?

Are you tired?

Tired of trying to (re)organise the various areas of your life entirely on your own?

Tired of investing vast amounts of time and energy in finding a way to create a better organised = better life?

Tired of feeling overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, stressed, disappointed, exhausted, …?

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out all by yourself.

We can do it together.

You can decide to get my support, advice, and guidance – and achieve the desired changes in your life so much faster and easier. 

Check out how I can help you.

Living Intentionally – Short Introduction – Part 1

Living intentionally – What does that mean?

Basically, living intentionally means that we deliberately decide how we want to live our life. And then we act on that.

We don’t let life just happen to us and purely react to its circumstances and challenges.

Instead, we actively define what’s important to us and how we want to experience and live our life.

We proactively make any necessary changes, even if that doesn’t feel very comfortable.

And we get ourselves well prepared for the challenges and opportunities the future might bring along.

Specifically, living intentionally means that we get good at thinking and acting intentionally. 

It means that we actively

#1 – Manage our mind

We get clear on what’s going on in our mind, what truly matters to us, what we are thinking and feeling about our current life and about the future.

We deliberately decide what we want to have in our life, and what we need to think, feel, and do to create what we want.

And then we take action and practice the new ways of thinking, feeling, and doing.

#2 – Organise our life

We let go of what belongs to the past and no longer serves us.

This refers to our daily life and to all areas of life:

Step-by-step, we declutter our home and our physical ‘stuff’, our paperwork and digital information. We also clear up our schedules, our relationships and responsibilities, our habits, and our daily routines.

We simplify and organise what we want to keep.

We apply strategies, tactics, and tools that help us do the work in a focused and efficient way. We also take care that everything we do is 100% aligned with our unique personalities and lifestyles.

We optimise how we organise our physical belongings, our paperwork and personal information, but also our ideas and interests, tasks, and projects, our dreams and goals.

Organising means that we take a close look at what we decided to keep, we sort it into categories, and then we assign a place to everything – so that we always know what we have and where we can find it when we need it.

Living an intentional and organised life looks different for each of us, of course.

Each of my clients has very personal and unique goals and ideas about what they want to achieve and why they want that. >READ MORE>


What about you?

Are you living your life intentionally?

And if yes, what does that mean to you? What does it look like in your daily life?


HOW CAN I HELP YOU?

Are you tired?

Tired of trying to (re)organise the various areas of your life entirely on your own?

Tired of investing vast amounts of time and energy in finding a way to create a better organised = better life?

Tired of feeling overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, stressed, disappointed, exhausted, …?

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out all by yourself.

We can do it together.

You can decide to get my support, advice, and guidance – and achieve the desired changes in your life so much faster and easier. 

Check out how I can help you.

Decluttering Tip – Let go of ‘sunk costs’

If something has no longer value for us, it’s clutter.

And it doesn’t matter how much we paid for it. 

Sometimes we hold on to something we don’t need, use, or love any longer, just because we have spent money on it.

We believe that we are obliged to continue valuing (= keeping) it because of the money we once invested into getting it.

However, money that has been spent is gone – it’s ‘sunk cost’, it’s gone as soon as we spend it.

Keeping something that no longer serves us but once cost us money means – in our mind – we still ‘own’ it and that makes us feel like we are somehow still having the money’s worth in our pocket.

But that’s not the case, of course, the money is gone.

Any unused item holds no value at all any longer: it holds no monetary value and no practical value – if we don’t use it, it’s useless, at least to us.

And then feelings of guilt tend to creep up. We look at that item, we know that the money is gone, and we know that it is useless to us, but it still sits there and stares at us – it makes us feel miserable.

However, it might be able to make someone else happy, it might have huge value for someone else, someone who needs it, who would use or love it.

As we release the item, we should also release any feelings of guilt, shame, or anger that go along with it. There is no upside in holding on to those negative emotions.

EXERCISE 1

    • Walk around your home and pick up some of the things that you haven’t used for ages. Or that you haven’t used at all.
    • Take each of the things in your hands and ask yourself: ‘Does this have still any value to me?’ Be absolutely honest!
    • Make a decision: To keep or not to keep?
    • If you decide to keep it, assign it a home, honour it by giving it the space and the use that the things you really want to have deserve.
    • If you decide not to keep it but want to sell it because you believe it has monetary value for someone else: Go out and find that person. Enjoy the money you get.
    • If you decide not to keep it and you can’t / don’t want to sell it: Donate it.
    • If you decide not to keep it, not to sell it and not do donate it (because there is definitely nobody who wants it): Say goodbye and put it in the rubbish or recycle bin.
    • And then enjoy the things you kept – because you truly need, use, or love them.

While going through the process of letting go and analysing why you bought the item, you can gain valuable insights from your sunk cost purchases.

EXERCISE 2

Asking ourselves some uncomfortable questions helps us understand the reasons behind the purchase and this new awareness will make it easier to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

You can you learn a lot about yourself from your answers to questions like these:

    • Was it an impulse buy? Did I acquire it without consideration or need? Why?
    • Did I succumb to pressure from a salesperson, my family, or friends?
    • What else could have caused me to buy it?

Any insights?

What did you learn from these exercises?

Are you more aware of the belongings that you value – because you need, use, love them?

And more aware of the things that no longer have value for you?

Any decluttering plans?

 


HOW CAN I HELP YOU?

Are you tired?

Tired of trying to (re)organise the various areas of your life entirely on your own?

Tired of investing vast amounts of time and energy in finding a way to create a better organised = better life?

Tired of feeling overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, stressed, disappointed, exhausted, …?

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out all by yourself.

We can do it together.

You can decide to get my support, advice, and guidance – and achieve the desired changes in your life so much faster and easier. 

Check out how I can help you.

Clutter Awareness – 4 ways to get to know your stuff better

Before you can decide what to declutter you need to know what you have

If you don’t feel completely comfortable in your home but struggle to decide what you should change or what you should let go of, you can use little experimental exercises that are not only fun but also help you see your home from a different and more neutral point of view.

Your increased awareness will help you make more confident and determined decluttering decisions.

EXERCISE 1 – Take the view of a stranger who is visiting for the first time

Go outside and enter your home through the front door again.

Walk through all rooms and pretend to see all your furniture and belongings for the first time.

Which assumptions are you making about the people living in this place?

Take notes of the thoughts, feelings, and judgments that come up.

EXERCISE 2 – Imagine you would move out soon

Walk through your place. Imagine you plan to move on and to have a fresh start in a new place. You want to take along only what’s really valuable to you.

Consider what you would leave behind because you actually don’t need, use, or love it any longer.

Make a list.

EXERCISE 3 – Use photographs to evaluate your possessions

Walk around your home and take photographs.

Somehow, photographs help us see a space with fresh eyes.

Taking pictures changes our perspective and gives us a measure of detachment. This can help us decide what items should stay and what needs to go.

EXERCISE 4 – Move clutter candidates out of context

Choose some of your potential clutter items and put them into a new context by carrying them into another room.

When we see objects settled into a particular place over time, it becomes hard to imagine where else they might go and how the place would look and feel like without them.

Once you detach things from their settled places, it’s much easier to decide what to do with them.

Do you have a better idea now of what you have?

And of what you no longer want to have?

Any changes you want to make in your home?

The next step could be to plan – and do! – some decluttering projects that will help you create the home you love.

Easy-to-do mini habits help us achieve our goals – easier and faster

Mini habits create the path to our goals – no matter how big those goals are.

If we want to achieve long-term goals, we should not focus on the goal itself but on the behaviours that will get us to the goal.

We design an easy path to the goal by choosing suitable behaviours and changing them into habits.

The behaviours that we want to develop into habits should be behaviours that we want to do – because we have positive thoughts and feelings about them:

    • They don’t make us feel cautious, anxious, or threatened – because we don’t expect them to be risky or dangerous.
    • They make us feel motivated and excited – because we trust they will be easy to do, even enjoyable, not at all painful or hard and difficult.
    • They don’t make us feel overwhelmed or exhausted – because we know they will not cost us much energy and effort.

Because of our deliberately positive thoughts and feelings, we are willing and able to do new behaviours repeatedly, until we have achieved the goal.

To check whether the chosen action is tiny and enjoyable enough, we can ask ourselves if we can believe and say with confidence:

‘Of course, I can do that. I could even do that for the rest of my life. It’s so easy!’

So we start by choosing suitable easy-to-do mini behaviours, and while we are doing them repeatedly, we create mini habits. Mini habits that are mini/small in the beginning, yes, but then, little by little, will develop into bigger behaviours and actions, getting us closer and closer to our goals.

Example:

If our goal is to run a marathon, we step-by-step build up behaviour habits that support the process of getting closer to that goal.

We, for example, first build up the tiny habit of walking 5 minutes each morning.

As soon as that has become a strong habit, we are ready to expand the habit by, for example, starting to run 10 minutes each morning.

After a while, we build on that and practice the habit of running 25 minutes each day.

Etc. Etc.

This is how we, mini step after mini step, mini success after mini success, finally achieve our goal: We run a marathon.

Easy-to-do mini habits – the foundation of our habit-creation success

The power of mini habits

Mini habits are much smaller versions of a new behaviour habit that we want to develop.

For example:

If we want to create the habit of running 60 minutes each day, a mini habit could be to walk each day for 10 minutes, or even just 5 minutes.

Mini habits have so many benefits:

Mini behaviours and mini habits help us avoid procrastination.

Procrastination is a short-term mood repair; we procrastinate to manage our emotions. That’s why getting started is often so challenging.

If we, for example, feel anxious about something we need to do and decide to put it off until tomorrow, our anxiety disappears, and we feel relief.

The positive feeling of relief is a reward for the procrastination behaviour – and the more a behaviour is rewarded, the more the survival manager likes it, and the more likely we are to repeat it. We kind of train ourselves to procrastinate.

That’s why it is so important to break down goals, projects, or new habits into small, easily doable pieces.

If we can expect and experience success from the beginning, we no longer feel anxious and hesitant to get started.

Now we get rewarded by our successes and no longer need ‘reward from failure’ (the relief after the postponing).

Mini behaviours and mini habits get us well prepared for more difficult behaviours.

If we practice small and easy-to-do behaviours, we create easy, fast, and constant successes that we can directly celebrate and feel positive about.

And success leads to success.

If we feel successful at something, even if it’s something small, our confidence increases, and we feel motivated to do it again, and to perform related behaviours.

And the more we do a behaviour, the easier it gets. Which again increases confidence and motivation.

And higher confidence and motivation levels increase our ability and willingness to do behaviours that are harder or bigger than the original one.

Mini behaviours and mini habits make us independent from our current level of motivation.

Yes, if motivation is high, we are willing to do difficult or hard behaviours.

But motivation is unreliable because it is based on how we feel.

We all experience ‘low mood days’.

Low feelings usually show up unpredictably and are often hard to get rid of. We are tired, have a headache, just feel miserable, stressed, weak.

If feelings are low, motivation is low.

Also, doing big things can feel hard and painful. We might have to push ourselves beyond our physical, emotional, or mental capabilities.

The survival manager of our brain (read more HERE), however, doesn’t want us to do painful or energy-sucking things. That’s why we can’t expect our brain to support us and why our motivation might shrink as soon as things become more demanding.

If we make a behaviour/habit tiny and easy to do, we don’t need much motivation.

We enable ourselves to do the behaviour successfully and repeatedly, no matter how our motivation might fluctuate.

Mini behaviours and habits are free of risk, danger, failure. They feel safe.

The main task of one part of or brain (the survival manager) is taking care of our safety and survival.

That’s why it not only wants us to avoid any potentially painful activities. It also wants us to avoid any potential risk or danger. To keep us save, it wants us to stay where we are and not change ourselves or our circumstances.

We can overcome our brain’s worries and fears and resistance to trying something new by avoiding big changes and instead choosing new behaviours that are so small and easy to do that they feel safe. 

Mini behaviours and habits help us change our beliefs and our self-image to the better.

Our habits at least partly determine how we see ourselves, what we think and feel about the person we are (becoming).

Habits – behaviours we do consistently – become parts of our personality – the good ones as well as the bad ones. (E.g., ‘I watch TV each evening – I’m a lazy coach potato’, ‘I’m used to get up at 5am – I am a productive early morning bird’).

Practicing new habits is like developing new personality traits.

Mini habits create success experiences fast and easily which allows us to faster and easier see ourselves as a person who is successfully changing to the better: someone who is getting good at doing what she/he wants to do, who is becoming an expert in creating new habits, who is able and willing to do desired behaviours consistently.

Doing what we want to do makes us feel good and confident about ourselves and our capabilities. And possibilities.

Which makes working on more complex behaviours and habits easier and more probable.

The process of habit development

Regular repetition of a new behaviour finally makes it habitual.

If we decide to start a new behaviour and intend to continue doing it, we want the new behaviour to get deeply ingrained in our brain and become habitual behaviour, so that we no longer have to invest attention and effort into doing it regularly and reliably.

And yes, if we manage to continue doing the behaviour for a while, our brain ‘gets used’ to it and accepts it as the best course of action in certain circumstances.

It decides that it no longer needs to take conscious care of the behaviour and transfers it into its unconscious areas – the behaviour becomes a habit.

Example:

Most of us buckle up as soon as we sit down in our car. We don’t have to think about it, we don’t have to remind ourselves to do it, we do it on default – buckling up before we start driving has become an unconscious behaviour – a habit.

It’s easier to transform a new behaviour into a habit if our brain ‘likes’ the behaviour.

The problem with many new behaviours is that the survival manager of our brain (Click here to read more about the two parts of the brain) doesn’t want to ‘get used’ to doing them in the beginning.

As soon as we start to execute a new behaviour, the survival manager in our brain gets nervous.

As we know, the main interests of the survival manager are

    • to avoid pain,
    • to seek pleasure,
    • to save energy.

It wants us to avoid anything that could cause pain or uncomfortable feelings or requires effort and energy.

In order to help the survival manager give up its resistance and accept a new behaviour easier and faster we want

    • to make the desired behaviour as painless, as pleasurable, and as efficient as possible,
    • and ensure that executing the behaviour feels good to us (and to the survival manager).

Good feelings spur the production of a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger in the brain) called dopamine that controls the brain’s ‘reward system’.

The increase in dopamine motivates the brain to link the good feelings to the behaviour.

In future, in similar situations, it will remember the behaviour that led to the positive feeling – and it will want us to do it again. And again. The behaviour develops into a habit.

Celebrating directly after we have done a specific behaviour, is another great way to increase the likelihood that we will do it again:

Celebrating makes us feel good in the current situation which makes the behaviour an easy choice in similar future situations.

There are other ways how we can overcome the brain’s aversion to negative feelings and exploit its desire to feel good.

One of the best strategies is to start the desired behaviour changes with the help of suitable ‘mini habits’.

We’ll discuss these strategies in detail in the coming post.

The purpose of habits

The general purpose of habits – Habits help us survive

Habits are not boring or tedious or old-fashioned or stuffy – habits are necessary, effective, and efficient strategies that help us survive and flourish.

Our brain would get overwhelmed and finally collapse if it always had to deliberately choose what to do in a specific moment. We wouldn’t be able to use our brain for high-level cognitive processes if it had to take care of all the nitty-gritty situations and events in our daily life.

About 45% of our daily actions and behaviours are unconscious habits: actions and behaviours that we do on default, without thinking about them.

By taking regularly required behaviours and organising them into habits that get automatically activated when needed, the brain (the survival manager) helps us save energy. (Read more about the two parts of the brain here.)

And we gain precious free space and capacity in our conscious mind that we can use for more demanding cognitive work (the responsibility of the growth manager).

The purpose of intentional habits – Habits help us change and grow

Making decisions ahead of time makes life easier – for us and for our brain.

We can support our brain (here: the survival manager) in its energy-saving intentions by deliberately deciding how we want to behave in a specific situation.

We then consistently practice the desired behaviour and make it become a habit.

Whenever the specific situation comes up, we no longer need to think and decide about it (usually the growth manager’s job) because our brain knows what to do – and it automatically initiates the now habitual behaviour.

Deliberately practicing new behaviours helps our brain overcome its focus on the past.

Our brain is past-focused. It uses past experiences to predict the best suitable behaviour in the present moment.

So, if we relied only on the suggestions that our brain is bringing up – based on behaviours that have been successful in the past – we would never try something new and never change.

If we want to create different experiences and results in our life, we need to take the initiative and tell our brain about the new direction we want to take.

We focus on a goal that’s important to us. And we deliberately choose and practice a set of new behaviours that will enable us to achieve the goal.

This helps our brain to redirect its attention from the past (our old/current behaviours) to the future (our desired new behaviours).

By repeating new behaviour and thinking patterns we actively create effectful changes in our brain and sustainable changes in our life.

Choosing new behaviours and thinking patterns and practicing them deliberately and repeatedly means that we take actively advantage of our brain’s plasticity.

If we create new habits, we create changes in our brain which result in changes of capabilities, skills, long-term behaviour.

The more regularly we do what we deliberately decided to do, the less we have to think about it (which helps us save cognitive energy), the easier it becomes, the more we do it, etc.

How can we help our brain let go of its change-aversion – so that we can change ourselves and our life?

The good news is that we are the boss of our brain.

We are responsible – and capable! – of paying close attention to what’s happening in our brain.

We can – and should! – take the leadership.

It’s our job to supervise the survival manager and the growth manager (read more here) and make them cooperate in ways that allow us to survive and to grow.

As we are now aware of the main interests of the survival manager – seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and saving energy – we can decide to actively support the growth manager and take the lead in the discussions with the survival manager.

The best growth strategy is to pursue new goals and change-intentions in ways that help loosen the survival manager’s automatic resistance:

    • Powerful thoughts and feelings

We deliberately choose and practice empowering thoughts about our plans which help us create powerful feelings. The survival manager’s automatic resistance thoughts lose their power and influence.

    • Easy-to-do actions and behaviours

We plan our actions carefully and make sure that the new behaviours are tiny and easy to do, so that our survival manager can accept them as risk- and pain-free alternatives to current actions/behaviours.

    • Small start and fast results

We then start doing the new small things, so that we can create early success experiences and evidence for the survival manager that we indeed can do this.

    • Habit creation

We practice the small and easy behaviours – we do them repeatedly and consistently – and continue to create daily success stories, no matter how little they are. Soon, our survival manager will start to consider the now no longer new behaviours as potentially ‘survival-suitable’ behaviours.

    • Mind-management

And whenever the survival manager is tempted to bring up any worry-thoughts or feelings of fear and doubt, we carefully redirect our attention to our positive thoughts and to the results that we have already created with our initial actions.

After lots of practice and repetitions of the new behaviours, our survival manager will drop its resistance completely and accept the new ways of doing things as the right ways of doing things.

At that point, the survival manager – who wants us to function efficiently and save energy wherever possible – will make the behaviour unconscious and automatic – which will make it a deeply ingrained habit.

The two parts of our human brain – and why one of them doesn’t want us to change and evolve

In recent articles of this series, we talked about the power of our thoughts and how the quality of our thinking determines the results and experiences we have in our life.

Because it’s our thoughts that determine what we do – which actions we take and which behaviours we execute consistently.

Today we want to learn more about the human brain and how we can manage it successfully.

The human brain consists of two main parts.

One part of the human brain acts as our ‘survival manager’.

It has helped the human species to survive for thousands and thousands of years by

    • directing us to the things that keeps us alive (food, shelter, sex, community, etc.) and
    • keeping us away from the things that are or could be painful, dangerous, risky (trying new things, moving out of our comfort zone, being adventurous, etc.).

Another part of the brain is responsible for the ‘executive’ work, the high-level cognitive tasks.

We could call this part of our brain our ‘growth manager’.

It enables us

    • to reflect and use our imagination,
    • to plan and be creative,
    • to set and pursue goals,
    • to process, manipulate, integrate information from other brain areas, from our body, and from the outside world,
    • to change and update old knowledge,
    • to solve problems and make conscious decisions.

Both parts of our brain are doing a great job – they are just not good at working as a team.

The survival manager and the growth manager both want our best.

But they don’t agree on what’s best for us. Their interests and intentions differ, and they usually try to pull us in different directions.

The survival manager is the change-averse part.

    • Its mission is to keep us alive and safe. That’s why it wants us to stay where and who we are.
    • Its job description lists these three main tasks: avoid pain, seek pleasure, save energy.
    • It doesn’t want us to change at all, it hates and resists any change.

The growth manager has opposite interests.

    • It wants us to question what currently is and to be imaginative about what could be instead.
    • It wants us to be curious, to explore other options and learn and create new things,
    • it wants us to change and move on – so that we can develop our potential and evolve and grow.

What’s happening in our brain whenever change ideas come up?

When our growth manager brings up innovative thoughts that have the potential to create feelings like excitement, motivation, curiosity – causing us to get active and do new things?

As soon as any ideas of potential change pop up in our mind, the survival manager gets nervous and ready to interfere.

It will do its very best to push back any change initiative brought up by the growth manager.

The survival manager doesn’t confront the growth manager directly.

Instead, it pulls its secret weapons:

Well-established and mostly unconscious thoughts that automatically create feelings like fear, insecurity, doubt, confusion – which then cause us to stay away from doing new things. (‘This is dangerous. It’s too hard. I can’t do that. I don’t know what to do.’)

If we don’t pay attention to what’s happening in our mind, the survival manager will always win the battle:

We will survive, yes – but we stay where we are, we don’t change and evolve.

In the next article, we will find out how we can persuade our brain to embrace change – so that we can start to intentionally change our thoughts, feelings, actions and habits, and consequently the results in our life.

Why it’s so important to choose our thoughts very carefully

Our thoughts determine what we do or don’t do.

Our thoughts and beliefs, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we can or cannot control, what we can or cannot do, determine how we feel, and our feelings drive our actions – the things we do or don’t do.

It really is this easy – whatever our challenge is, our thoughts determine how we approach and manage it:

    • ‘Bad’ (negative, powerless, weak, self-limiting, doubtful, etc.) thoughts create ‘bad’ feelings.

Example:

If I think, ‘This is such a mess, I can’t clear it up.’ I feel hopeless.

    • ‘Bad’ feelings make us take ‘bad’ actions.

If I feel hopeless, I take no action at all or I start and then give up quickly.

    • ‘Bad’ actions create ‘bad’ results/experiences in our life.

Procrastinating or giving up leaves the mess as it is. I create evidence for my original thought (‘I can’t clear it up’).

If we want to change our results, we need to act differently.

And our actions, behaviours, habits will only change if we think and feel differently about our challenges:

    • We need to intentionally choose ‘good’ (positive, powerful, determined, confident, trustful, etc.) thoughts to create ‘good’ feelings.

Example:

I choose the thought: ‘Of course, I can do this. I just take one step at a time.’

Which makes me feel capable. Or confident.

    • Feeling ‘good’ enables us to take ‘good’ actions.

If I feel capable, I start to get active and take the first step. And then the next.

    • And our ‘good’ actions then create new ‘good’ results.

Little by little, the mess gets cleared up. I prove to myself the truth of my thought (‘I can do this.’)

Of course, in real life, it’s not always that easy.

Changing our thoughts, feelings, and consequently our actions/behaviours is often not easy because we have a human brain.

We struggle – again and again – to get active and change and improve the things that are within our power – because our brain, at least one part of it, doesn’t want us to change what we do or don’t do. It also doesn’t want us to change our thinking.

We need to understand our human brain and how it works if we want to manage it successfully.

We’ll discuss in the coming articles of this series how we can learn to manage our brain – and, as a consequence, our actions and habits – in a powerful way.

Habits create sustainable change – one-time actions often don’t

‘What you do most days matters more than what you do once in a while.’ (Gretchen Rubin)


The results created by one-time actions are often not sustainable.

Yes, of course, one-time actions can create changes in our life. Even big changes. But do they last?

Example:

Think about a cluttered garage.

A big one-time action, like working a whole weekend in the garage, can definitely create visible and real change: at the end of the weekend the garage is (ideally) clutterfree and organised.

But how will it look like in 4 months’ time?

The success of many one-time actions is short-lived because we do change our external environment, yes, but we don’t change ourselves (our thoughts and feelings), and we don’t change what we do on a regular basis.

New habits help us create reliable and lasting results.

It’s when we build new habits – when we start to do new things consistently, every day, again and again – that the real change is happening.

Back to the example:

Instead of doing the work in one go, we can decide to do it step by step, to divide the work in small and easily doable portions.

Like starting to invest 15 minutes each Saturday morning to declutter and reorganise a small area in the garage. Depending on the current state of the garage, it might take many weeks or even months to sort it all out.

But at the end of these weeks or months, not only will the garage be free of clutter, we’ll also have built the habit of taking care of it consistently. And this new habit is going to create sustainable change:

If we stick to our new habit (every Saturday 15 minutes organising work) the garage will never get cluttered again.

One-time actions usually don’t have consequences on our habitual behaviours, they don’t change us and they don’t change what we do or don’t do on a regular basis.

If we want to change our life in a sustainable way, we need to change our habits.  

So how do we change ourselves and our behaviours?

We need to change the way we are thinking – because our thoughts determine what we do or don’t do.

The next articles of the ‘Habit Creation Series’ are going to analyse the close relationship between our thought patterns and our behaviour patterns in more depth.