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The Paradigm Shift of Habits

Last winter I met with a friend of mine for coffee. We had gone through yoga teacher training together years prior, and wanted to catch up.

He taught me an interesting concept about change. He told me to imagine a skate ramp, or a pendulum of sorts. A pendulum swings side to side, sometimes it is one way, sometimes the other. Same thing with a skater going through a half pipe. This pendulum represents us, and our daily habits. Sometimes we are better with our habits, sometimes we are worse. The pendulum doesn’t shift equally either, you can be great about your exercise routine for months, then get lazy for a few days. Or maybe it happens rather quickly, you are happy one minute, then sad the next.

Lets use the example of eating healthy. Some days you will eat all your healthy foods, and other days you might slip up and eat more junk food than you know you should. Maybe you are stuck in the bad habit of always eating unhealthy foods, and every once in a while you make some healthier choices. We naturally live somewhere in the spectrum of our our paradigms, there is no such thing as being perfect with your goals in our world. You can be a little better, or a little worse. You are never completely perfect and you are never a complete failure.

Dialing it in

Now, this can relate to any goal or habit. Our aim is to eliminate that feeling of “all or nothing”. Another way to think of this, is as a dial. With 1 being the lowest effort, and 10 being the greatest effort. If you want to take better care of your overall wellness, you could put in minimal effort and just start doing something simple, like taking a multivitamin every day without changing any other habits. If you wanted to put in moderate effort, you could start planning daily walks and eating healthy for two meals of the day. Maximal effort would be something like; you eat healthy for every meal, do daily strength training and cardio, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, have a healthy social life, and give yourself quiet personal time.

Now let’s say that you start doing something consistently. Maybe you just start meditating for 5 minutes a day. After a while, that paradigm starts to shift. This happens rather quickly, meditate for just three days in a row, and you have begun to shift from doing zero meditation. Do this long enough, and you have completely shifted the paradigm, and created a new habit.

Often times, we get so caught up in doing EVERYTHING that we forget that the little (often more manageable habits) can also make a difference. I encourage everyone who struggles with yo-yoing or is easily thrown off course, to start with some simple habits, like drinking a glass of water with breakfast. The little things do matter!

Thrown off Course

Relapse can always happen, causing you to fall back into old habits. Maybe you are going along enjoying  your new habits. You drink enough water, you meditate daily, and you are generally taking good care of yourself. Then something happens that throws you off, a breakup, a tragedy, maybe even something nice like a vacation. Either way, your whole sense of balance is thrown off. These things happen, and are inevitable. What matters, is how you get back up, after being throw off course. In the great words of Rocky “That’s how winning is done!”.

When life happens, and you get off track with your new habits you are trying to build. You should respond with these three steps:

  1. Be kind to yourself, eliminate negative self talk. Life happens and you don’t need your internal bully adding to it. Be gentle and speak to yourself like you would someone you love very much.
  2. Look at your goals, were they too much to handle with the life you are living? Do you need to eliminate some of the drama and stress in life in order to be more successful with your goals. Maybe you need to modify your goals.
  3. Make a plan to get back on track, maybe not all at once, but you can start today. Not tomorrow, not Monday, not next month, or the new year, you start TODAY. This could be as simple as getting up and getting yourself a glass of water.

I like the quote, “There are no failures, only lessons”. It reminds us to keep working towards a better quality of life. Missing out on your goal of not drinking water for a day does not make you a failure or a horrible person, it just means that you have more work to do, to shift that paradigm in the direction you want it to go.

Tying it all Together

So after reading this article you should understand that change doesn’t happen over night. It comes in subtle shifts that eventually result in a new reality. You need to be gentle with yourself and forgiving of this process. Know that you are never perfectly successful or a total failure. Maybe your next vacation you can tell yourself that you will enjoy your trip and instead of doing an hour of exercise every day, you will get in an intentional walk and that will be good enough.

Life is never perfect, we should strive every day to improve our quality of life. This means working to shift ourselves out of an unhealthy place, by doing little things each day to get ourselves there. If you are struggling in a plateau or feel frustrated with your ability to accomplish your goals. CONTACT US  today and see if we can help you. Our coaching team uses a unique proprietary method for making progress with goals. We would love to help you, and we never judge someone who is trying!

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