Nothing is stronger than habit. ~ Ovid 43 B.C – A.D.18
Today, we have the pleasure of a guest post from John Chancellor, an expert in helping solo-entrepreneurs achieve their goals in business and life. He shares with us today an interesting take on habits! Try it and let me know how it works for you - I'll keep you in the loop about my success too.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy. ~William Shakespeare 1564 – 1616
The No Diet Diet
by John Chancellor
If you've ever wanted to get rid of a couple of inches around the waistline, you've probably tried a diet.
You're probably also aware that over 90% of people who go on a diet aren't successful on a long-term basis; whatever weight they drop generally comes back within a short period of time. You might be surprised to learn that there's a no-diet diet and it really works.
The program resulted from a set of experiments done by Professor Ben Fletcher at the University of Hertfordshire. He was working with groups of people and each day, they had to pick a different option from contrasting behaviors: lively/quiet, reactive/proactive, introvert/extrovert, passive/assertive, generous/stingy, shy/flirty, and so on. If a person was an introvert, she'd choose to act like an extrovert. If a person was normally quiet, he could choose to be lively.
Each day, they had to choose a behavior that was the opposite of their typical demeanor, then act in a manner consistent with that behavior. They also had to do something outside of their normal range of activities at least twice weekly.
Now here's the interesting part: Dr. Fletcher found that after four months, the subjects had lost an average of eleven pounds. They weren't on a diet; losing weight was simply a by-product of taking part in the psychological experiment.
How can we explain these results? Well, the underlying principle is that we're ruled by habit. When people acted in ways unlike their normal behavior, they forced themselves to consciously think about their actions; they stopped acting like robots and actually took control of their lives. Instead of acting out of habit, they made conscious decisions about their behavior. And instead of eating out of habit, they became more conscious about what, when and how much they ate.
Does this have implications for other areas of our lives? It certainly does. Professor Fletcher calls this FIT Science — Framework for Internal Transformation. It's well known that if you want things to change, you need to change. But change is extremely difficult. We can't transform ourselves through sheer willpower. We need to make a fundamental shift for change to be permanent. And the way to do it is with small steps.
Trying to alter major elements of our lives doesn't work. It's too difficult. We need to take small steps to change our habits: bringing little things into our conscious awareness and making deliberate choices. If we can make conscious choices — deciding between two opposing options — we will eventually form new, better habits. We'll lose weight, get out of our comfort zones and start doing the things we should be doing.
While the participants in the experiment lost weight without being on a diet, the applications for other areas of our lives offer much greater benefits. Any time we attempt to change some major part of our lives, fear of the unknown kicks in to keep us stuck in our comfort zone. We have a built-in fear of change. Couple the fear of change with the power of habit and you'll begin to see why change is so difficult. But by becoming consciously aware of our choices in life, we can dramatically alter our lives by taking small steps not directly connected with the change we seek.
If you really want to change your life, become aware of the things you do. By concentrating on one small behavior and altering your choices in that area, you can make a habit of consciously considering the choices you face. The more aware you are of your choices, the better choices you'll make. And better choices lead to improvement in all areas of life.
Thanks John, gives me new hope to lose those last few pounds and break other habits too…. I loved how your thoughts wove together with my take on "Fake It Until You Make It' – see my February post (http://sharonsayler.com/2012/
About the Author: John Chancellor
John Chancellor is a mentor/coach specializing in helping solo-entrepreneurs achieve their goals in business and life. He helps them gain clarity, commitment and the courage to take the necessary action. Enjoy his wisdom over at his weekly blog: Lessons in Life (http://www.teachthesoul.com). He is an avid reader and a Top 500 Amazon.com Reviewer too!